Published Authors

The Big L: American Logistics in World War II

by Alan L. Gropman

American logistics in World War II was “big” by just about any measure one can devise. There is no question that it played a dominant role in the allied victory and thereby shaped the history of the rest of the century. The lessons of that achievement, consequently, remain essential today, especially for those who study and work with the resources component of United States grand strategy. So it is important that those lessons be accurate, that they portray a balanced view, pointing out shortcomings as well as documenting great successes; otherwise, a mythologized picture of the “Arsenal of Democracy” may be perpetuated. It was in this spirit that the Industrial College of the Armed Forces convened a symposium to address the lessons of World War II logistics—”the Big L.” The extended essays published here began as papers delivered at the symposium, then were expanded and revised for this book. Written by faculty of the Industrial College, they address the massive subject from seven perspectives: industrial mobilization; acquisition of war materials; the economics of mobilization; the building of infrastructure; the Lend-Lease program; joint logistics in the Pacific Theater; and joint logistics—the “materiel battle “—in Europe. The American effort—mind-boggling as it was in sheer numbers—was flawed in many respects. With the advantage of hindsight, the authors take a hard, unsentimental look at these areas of WWII logistics and offer a balanced analysis that will best serve our understanding of this subject.