American logistics in World War II was "big" by just about any measure one can devise. There is no question that it played a dominant role in the allied victory and thereby shaped the history of the rest of the century. The lessons of that achievement, consequently, remain essential today, especially for those who study and work with the resources component of United States grand strategy. So it is important that those lessons be accurate, that they portray a balanced view, pointing out shortcomings as well as documenting great successes; otherwise, a mythologized picture of the "Arsenal of Democracy" may be perpetuated. It was in this spirit that the Industrial College of the Armed Forces convened a symposium to address the lessons of World War II logistics--"the Big L."

The extended essays published here began as papers delivered at the symposium, then were expanded and revised for this book. Written by faculty of the Industrial College, they address the massive subject from seven perspectives: industrial mobilization; acquisition of war materials; the economics of mobilization; the building of infrastructure; the Lend-Lease program; joint logistics in the Pacific Theater; and joint logistics--the "materiel battle "--in Europe. The American effort--mind-boggling as it was in sheer numbers--was flawed in many respects. With the advantage of hindsight, the authors take a hard, unsentimental look at these areas of WWII logistics and offer a balanced analysis that will best serve our understanding of this subject.

It is particularly appropriate that this book is a product of the Industrial College because ICAF is a unique institution--the only senior military college in the world dedicated to comprehensive study of the resources component of national security. The idea tor the book as well as the symposium was conceived and seen to fruition by a member of the IGAF faculty. The book you hold in your hands is no mere proceedings of a conference, but a comprehensive, fully developed anthology that can serve both as a textbook for the student and an enlightening guide for the general reader.

John S. Cowings
Major General, U.S. Army
Commandant, Industrial College of the Armed Forces



The authors of this volume received greatly appreciated support from a number of people who are specialists in the field of strategic logistics. Gary. E. Weir, Terrace Gough, Robert J. Samuelson, Donald Albrecht, Roger G. Miller, and Edwin H. Simmons generously commented on the seven chapters herein. Research Associates Francis H. Dillon and Thomas Candon provided tireless research and editorial assistance to the authors. This volume was initially produced as a one-day symposium, the administrator of which was Joseph Ross. His attention to detail ensured the success of that well attended scholarly event. Dr. Fred Kiley and George Maerz and their staffat the National Defense University Press turned a loosely formed seven-chapter manuscript into a book. The staff at the National Defense University Library, under the supervfision of Sarah Mikel, Ann Parham, and Rosemary Marlowe-Dziuk, were endlessly helpful in providing the source material for this holistic study of logistics. Finally, the numerous charts, diagrams, maps, and histograms herein were the product of the enormously talented graphics division of the National Defense University. This artistic unit, under the supervision of Donald Barry and, Alex Contreras, never fails to produce for the educators at the National Defense University. While many people who work for Mr. Barry, and Mr. Contreras contributed to The Big L effort, Nancy Bressi carried most of the load. We are indeed indebted to her and her colleagues and supervisors.

Alan Gropman


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