10 April 2003 | David Arminas
Attacks on allied logistics soldiers shows that a secure supply chain is as elusive as ever.
Former logistics Brigadier Frank Steer said the army faces threats as the divisions move faster towards Baghdad.
He told SM: "The lessons of history are clear. You cannot risk long lines of communications because the enemy will cut them.
"It is hard for civilians to imagine protecting 50 trucks strung out along an open desert road," said Steer, who, until his retirement in 1999, was director of support systems, HQ Quartermaster General.
"The danger is that soldiers act as small groups rather than an integrated unit."
Steer is secretary-general of the Institute of Quality Assurance, a professional body for managers and directors, and is writing a book on logistics in the British Army.
Frank Butterworth, a former Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, said military tacticians needed to have supply chain information so they could prioritise goods.
"Logisticians must have their finger on the pulse of who needs what where, and so that staff who are based at headquarters can understand the needs of the front-line soldiers," he said.
Butterworth is now business development manager for equipment parts supplier Lex Multipart Defence, which supplies running gear to Challenger 2 tanks and support vehicles used in Iraq.