One factor most authors tend to overlook is logistics. This is more important than fancy weapons and equipment. Logistics is supply, if troops don’t have food or bullets, they can’t fight, if the troops are a psychological wreck they won’t fight well.
Logistics involves Food, Water, Ammunition, medical supplies, enemy prisoners of war, mail, medical treatment, communication, transportation, information, rest and recuperation, replacements, and more.
Consider, a man can eat three MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat) a day. If each MRE is two pounds and there are forty men in a platoon, that is two hundred and forty pounds a day. A company of men (around two hundred) requires one thousand, two hundred pounds of food a day. That is just food. Frequently water must also be transported because in most areas troops cannot drink the water in streams or lakes for health reasons. Then there is ammunition, spare parts, replacement weapons, gas for the vehicles, spare batteries for the radios, mines, and more. All these things may be needed on a daily basis.
Despite the best precautions, people also get sick or get injured and must be evacuated.
This is all important to military units for without them they quickly fall apart and cease to be an effective fighting force. Logistics is the key to successful military operations.
Lets look at long range patrols for a second, say a month. With three meals a day each person must carry ninety MRE’s. At two pounds an MRE that is one hundred and eighty pounds. That is an awfully heavy backpack. A person can survive on one MRE a day (but it leaves him very hungry). It still adds sixty pounds to his pack. Add in radio batteries, and water. Before you know it that patrol that will be gone for a month is so overloaded they can’t move.
If they are going to remain motionless in a site then they will have to carry camouflage netting, digging tools and the like. Living off the land is usually possible, if the fighters have the skills, however, living off the land is also much more likely to reveal the presence of that patrol and that is not a good thing. Sometimes it can be fatal.
Then the psychological factor must be considered. If a person spends too much time in a battlezone without a break then they will start to crack under the pressure. Battle Fatigue or Shell Shock well set in and make the person unstable and dangerous. Rest and Recreation must be scheduled so the troops don’t stress out too badly.
Another point of logistics is mail, everybody wants mail from home and nobody likes delays. Mail is important to people and can have a direct impact on their morale. Care packages from home are also great morale boosters.
It has been said that for every fighter there are five to twenty rear echelon non-combatants that support him and the other rear echelon non-combatants. Cooks, finance clerks, lawyers, chaplains, doctors, dentists, military intelligence specialist, cargo plane and helicopter pilots, military police, technicians, mechanics and more.
Logistics is the life blood of a military. If logistics is poor or nonexistent than the fighters will be severely vulnerable and unable to fight effectively.