September 5, 2005

ask an expert

One of the infuriating things about discussing the response to the hurricane is that you end up arguing with hippies who have not a clue about the friction that bedevils real-world operations...even without a disaster. Jason van Steenwyck, who has done done NG disaster operations, talks about logistics...
...The closest available fuel on the Eastern approaches to New Orleans is Tuscaloosa, AL. The road distance from Tuscaloosa to New Orleans is 291 miles.
My 2 1/2 ton trucks could not make it to New Orleans, carrying a full load. Without external fueler support, they'd run out of fuel on the way in. My Humvees could probably make it in, but they wouldn't be able to operate once they got there. We could maybe pull a mounted zone reconnaisance, and then that's it. Black on CL III.
So that's another layer of logistical hurdles to overcome. You'd need to set up a series of FLEs (forward logistical elements) just to allow your mass formations to get in.
But your FLEs are traveling from hours away, too. Which means everytime you empty out a fueler on the outskirts of New Orleans, you have to drive 291 miles to fill up and return again. Until Tuscaloosa runs out of fuel. Hopefully, you're trucking it in to Tuscaloosa from somewhere else. And Tuscaloosa needs its own fuel, too.
Think the shortage of available fuel for 300 miles might put a crimp on any Federal response?...
To an NYT columnist, military units are just cardboard counters in a game, and you push them where you want. In real life it isn't like that. Our military is so superb that they make this stuff look easy, and then armchair whiners expect everything to always happen instantaneously. Van Steenwyck has lots of posts worth reading. He makes a good case, writing about the NG takeover of the Superdome, that:
...our Army has never been better. The crucible of Iraq has tempered our NCOs and junior officer corps in fire, and they are able to concieve operations and execute quickly, with commendable restraint, even with an ad hoc force pulled together from all over.
This could not have gone well before the Iraq war. But one thing the Army has learned to do well is process large numbers of people quickly, screening for bad guys. We didn't learn this at Fort Benning or Fort Polk.
I would argue that despite the absence of part of the LAARNG in Iraq, the overall quality of the response, and the rapidity with which it was able to be delivered, is perhaps BETTER as a result of the war in Iraq. And our nation benefits indirectly from the leadership and logistics lessons learned by our National Guard officers and NCOs as a result of their widespread deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kudos to the LAARNG for not going in prematurely. This is one operation where you absolutely needed overwhelming force, and to go in like a bolt of lightning. Good work, brothers and sisters...
That operation went so smoothly that nobody noticed how superb it was. Not that our vile press is going to do much reporting about anything that goes well, unless it's done by Democrats. Posted by John Weidner at September 5, 2005 5:41 PM
Weblog by John Weidner