A Logistician Again

The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…” – Sun Tzu

Spent part of Veteran’s Day back in the Air Force … figuratively. Not as the Colonel again, but as the Logistician. A new granite counter was to be delivered for our hosts’ bathroom. I volunteered to watch the contractor remove the old counter, set the new, and install the fixtures, so our hostess Candy and my wife Treva could attend a ladies’ meeting.

As I ask what seemed obvious questions about the project, Candy realized she wasn’t ready. Where does the old counter go? Where are the new sinks? Under the bed; only one bowl under the bed. (Call her husband Tom at work; the contractor took it to make the right size and shape holes.) Where are the fixtures? Also under the bed. Where can I reach you and Tom?

Meanwhile the ladies cleaned the bathroom, made the bed and arranged the decorator pillows.

Will the contractor disconnect the old fittings? Yes, but we need to turn off the water supply. Under the sink? No, for the whole house. Where? In the basement, behind … uh, we need Tom. The ladies emptied the under-sink cabinets while Tom returned to show me where to turn off the water. (I’d never have found it.)

The contract crew arrived, and the installation went off without a hitch.

Logistics is as much about avoiding what might go wrong as about planning for success. Murphy’s law applies. It’s almost the logistician’s credo. Pilots used to ask me why I always told them why they couldn’t do what they wanted. I’d answer, no, I’m assuring that nothing goes wrong or having a backup plan or two.

Many folks dream dreams and stumble through life expecting things to “turn out.” Not logisticians. We are that dour breed which always looks for the thorns on the rose bush. The better to avoid them.

It’s not quite as bad as the classic The Logistician, but almost. And it’s not just generals, strategists and tacticians who undervalue logisticians to their peril. Titans of business, entertainment and politics ignore logistics at their peril.

Forget logistics, you lose.” – Lt. Gen. Fredrick M. Franks, Jr., USA, 7th Corps Commander, Desert Storm

Happy Veterans Day to all who survived because some loggie did his or her job well.