Friday, September 30, 2005

great minds think about logistics

The military adage that smaller minds think about tactics while greater minds think about logistics is proven by looking at Katrina. Forget red tape and legal barriers. Forget gross incompetence on the part of the local and state officials. Assume all of that goes away and you are looking at a perfect world. Can the National Guard and FEMA come in faster than 48-72 hours effectively?

This article at iraqnow (HT: Rantingprofs, welcome back btw) gives you some idea of the magnitude of the problem that I have not seen the press even attempt to address. We are not talking about a couple of semi trucks being pulled up to the Superdome. The problem is enormous.

I tried to explain what a massive undertaking it is to move the National Guard into the Katrina affected area to my wife. I had very little success until I broke it down to one number. 8 pounds. It is a magic number. The planning weight for a gallon of water. Times two gallons per person per day minimum. Times 40,000 personnel for the National Guard to support itself. The number gets pretty staggering really quick. 320 tons a day. And that is just for the water.

I don't know what the Guard uses for hauling general cargo these days so I'll use the good old 5 ton truck as my vehicle of choice. A five ton truck carries, well, not five tons. Not after you take out of its total people, fuel, equipment, spares and all the other "stuff" your average driver/A driver pair need to survive. But assuming you can get 5 tons of water on the truck that is 64 trucks (big trucks, not Ford F150 trucks) just to haul water for the relief forces. Still not a drop to drink for the survivors. Now double that number to add in one days worth of water for the 40,000 people in the Superdome. Now we are 128 water trucks.

And nobody (including the troops) has been fed, nobody has any dry clothes, there are no working portable toilets, no generators, no water heaters for showers, no kitchens, and NO FUEL which is an even bigger problem than water in terms of size.

The fact that they can pull it off in roughly 72 hours is pretty amazing to me.


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