Army & Navy - LOGISTICS: Then and Now

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The U.S. began its 17th month of World War II. In terms of time (but not in terms of the imminence of victory) it was at the Battle of St. Mihiel of World War I. It was also far enough along to let the Army Service Forces (formerly Services of Supply) release a few figures on its performance in logistics in the first twelve months.

Compared with the record of the first twelvemonth of World War I, these figures were fragmentary but convincing proof that if the U.S. had performed prodigies of supply and transportation then, it was doing vastly more this time. Without including the great shipments of Lend-Lease material, the U.S. had made transportation history.

In the first twelvemonth of World War II, 891,827 troops had been embarked for overseas duty; in the same period in World War I, 366,603.

Army freight in the first year reached 10,474,923 measurement* tons; last war 1,725,000. Biggest monthly total then was 450,446 tons; now, 1,554,127.

Then the vast bulk of shipments was to the British Isles, and transports averaged 6,500 miles the round voyage. Now the average is much higher; transports to Australia cover an average 14,000 miles on the round voyage; to the Persian Gulf (longest haul), 28,000.

Then, only one airplane was shipped overseas in the first twelvemonth; now, thousands. At last war's end, the U.S. had 241 tanks in combat areas, mostly from England and France: this time, almost that many have been carried in a single ship.

Cargoes of today, especially tanks, mobile artillery and aircraft, are harder to handle than cargoes of 1917-18. But the average round trip of freighters between the U.S. and Great Britain has been cut from 83 days then to 65 days now. In 1942 troop ships average a third less time idle or loading in home ports than they did in 1917.

* 40 cubic feet.