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Maritime Logistics Community News : April 2014
32 MARITIME LOGISTICS COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER 2014 MIKE FOGARTY 12 AUG 13 This fourth campaign to attack and destroy an enemy redoubt at Illig, in Somaliland, was conducted from 20 to 26 April. Its purpose was to suppress, if not subdue, the threat of the Dervish forces led by the so- called "Mad Mullah", Muhammad Abdulle Hassan (sic). Jardine wrote that the Mullah had been soundly beaten in battle and had lost the greater part of his following and stock.10 In contrast, the British logistical effort and its forces prevailed over its enemies. Few were killed. Aden was a near by hub. India also serviced logistics. One author asserts the obvious in a general principle on warfare, which is no less applicable to Somaliland. New demands could only be met by continuous replenishment from base.11 The Royal Navy and the Royal Hampshire Regiment effected an amphibious assault to re-assert Britain's national interests. Brassey reinforced and presaged the inter-dependence of all roles. The duties of the Navy were constant and unrelaxing, and involved those functions which always fall to the Service afloat, such as "patrolling the coast", "embarking and disembarking troops and stores", and which, though at times unseen, and unadvertised, are yet no less important than the military operations proceeding concurrently.12 The Somaliland hinterland was mostly an unknown region. The topography, climate, hydrographical and sea state factors affected the application of logistics. Intelligence from friendly natives allowed planners to proceed with an appreciation of local resources. Water Shaw observed that a desert has always proved to be the most formidable frontiers (sic) against invasion, owing to its lack of water. Forces of heavy man-power and particularly of heavy animal power (camels and horses) consume an immense amount (of water) and its carriage in bulk presents many difficulties.13 Grain may be suitable for Indian camels but Somali camels graze. Water (and food) are the prime logistical needs to nurture an army. Somalia had little available fresh stocks of the former, outside of the rainy season. It required local knowledge to find streams and potable water sources. Some water had to be shipped in and rationed accordingly. The commanders recognised the need for an assured supply. As the normal supply of water was likely to prove inadequate for the large increase of troops and transport, water supply plant was shipped from England and was installed with satisfactory results at the various posts on the line of communication.14 The need for water was no less so on embarkation after the campaign. The Admiralty noted that the task of feeding and watering the garrison had become arduous and even dangerous.15 Food The expeditionary force had to victual itself with adequate provisions of food. It required a determined endeavour to garner food stocks, land them, and sustain their continuing replenishment. Religious and cultural sensitivities also impacted on food shipments. The meat supply was principally furnished by sheep for British troops and goats for Indians.16 Volume II of the official history provides a voluminous inventory of stocks. It demonstrated the need for their integration and disbursement. For example, in a joint operation, it required a high level of liaison and co- ordination to furnish the soldiers in the field. The British expedition to Somaliland in 1904: A case study of the use of logistics The British expedition to Somaliland in 1904 is a case study in military and naval logistics. Continued next page ... 10 Douglas Jardine, The Mad Mullah of Somaliland, Herbert Jenkins, London, 1923, p. 153. The British force neutralised many of his followers. Coupled with that, the enemy lost a considerable part of its logistical back-up, which nullified its ability to successfully prosecute its campaign. The country lacked all civilised transport. Jardine also notes the dietary conditions which complicated supply. Religious and cultural factors meant that food sources were variegated. Water was short in the desert. 11 Martin van Creveld, Supplying War, Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990, p. 233. The author provides some intellectual ballast, using examples to correlate logistics with strategy. For that he applies a sound theoretical base to any case study. In his introduction (page 1) he defines logistics as the practical art of moving armies and keeping them supplied. He puts logistics in their correct perspective. At once, their supply is twinned with strategy. 12 T.A. Brassey, editor, The Naval Annual, 1905, "The Navy and the Somaliland Expedition", Chapter IV, J. Griffin and Co., Portsmouth, published 1905, p. 58. 13 G. C. Shaw, Supply in Modern War, Faber and Faber, London, 1939, p. 314. 14 General Staff, War Office, Official History of the Operations in Somaliland, Volume I, H.M.S.O., London, 1907, p. 217. 15 Admiralty, Intelligence Department, Papers on Naval Subjects, Capture of Illig, Somaliland, 1904, No. 747, published London, February, 1905, p. 10. This report has useful facts on Somaliland. 16 General Staff War Office, Official History of the Operations in Somaliland, Volume II, p. 525. Local food acquisition, like water, was parlous and of poor quality which could only supplement those rations shipped in. That said, there were some grazing areas which were dependent on good seasons.