Shoestring Logistics Lessons from Guadalcanal

No one will ever accuse the Marine Corps of having a short memory. Indeed, it is all but an article of faith within the Corps that much of its misery at Guadalcanal can be traced to the Navy's logistics failures. And in truth, the criticism is not without merit. At the start of Operation Watchtower, neither the Navy nor the Marine Corps was prepared to move personnel and matériel off cargo ships and across the shore quickly in a contested environment. Doctrinally, while Landing Operations, U.S. Navy (FTP 167) acknowledged the tasks associated with conducting offload operations, it failed to lay out the command-and-control expectations.1 The result was an undermanned and uncoordinated traffic jam that became a debacle once Japanese forces counterattacked in earnest.

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