U.S. Africa Command Staff
There’s no escaping the importance of logistics. Without the ability to effectively move and sustain troops, commanders’ plans aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. In short, logistics can be the difference between a mission’s success and failure.
This fact is agonizingly clear on the African continent, where conflicts erupt in regions that are difficult to reach by air or land. This remoteness hampers peacekeeping efforts and costs lives.
The African Union recognizes the challenge, and logistics is a key component of its newly operational African Standby Force (ASF). To attain the goal of “silencing the guns” on the continent by 2020, the AU is working to find a way to swiftly deploy and sustain its peacekeeping forces for long periods. It is making progress. A continental logistics base is planned in Douala, Cameroon, that will store equipment for rapid deployment and for establishing a mission headquarters when the ASF is on the ground. The AU created a continental movement coordination center to identify the best resources for strategic airlift and sealift to move troops, vehicles and equipment to the front lines. The continent’s many militaries also are emphasizing training logisticians to meet the challenges of 21st-century multidimensional peacekeeping operations.
U.S. Africa Command and African partners can work together to offer training, share best practices, provide airlift or sealift, and hold events such as the annual Africa Logistics Forum to build relationships. Effective logistics is built on partnerships and planning. Addressing logistics challenges before they arise helps minimize problems that once seemed insurmountable.