Wars, battles, skirmishes – whatever the level of combat military personnel are called upon to get involved in, in this technological age, the ability to move people and fighting equipment quickly to where it is needed is just as important as the size of the force deployed.
In recent years, as we have seen large-scale cuts made to the levels of personnel serving in armed forces across many Western democracies, the number of army, navy and air force personnel who can be deployed to any trouble spot has to be very carefully calculated. And this number depends in turn on the amount and types of weaponry which are deemed necessary in each individual case.
Modern intelligence plays a pivotal role in assessing this in any conflict. It will monitor and try to ascertain the extent to which respective sides in a conflict are armed, and carefully work out the nature and level of response which is then called into action.
Of course, when intervention is deemed necessary in any trouble zone, those co-ordinating the response will work in the hope that those people and the equipment which they send in to carry out their appointed task will be required for as short a time as possible.
But as we have seen in recent conflicts in Iraq and Kuwait, military leaders and their political masters are wont to issue highly optimistic estimates in this regard.
And of course, the longer forces are committed to working in a particular region, the greater are the demands placed on not just the front-line fighters, but also those whose job is to ferry equipment and supplies to and from the conflict zone.
Historically, the importance of reliable international delivery in warfare was first acknowledged by forces fighting in the French and Prussian wars of the 19th century. And Napoleon can be considered the first military commander to take on board the concept of appointing commissioners – non-military personnel who worked alongside his generals to ensure that advances did not run ahead of…