The side with better logistics seems to always win. The ostfront is a good example of logistics overcoming quality. What is the clearest example of the reverse happening?

  • I think there's an interesting on-topic question struggling to get out here. However, as it stands this question is overbroad, perilously close to a list question, and can probably use a concrete example or two. – T.E.D. Mar 31 '17 at 14:10

No single factor determines the outcomes of all battles and wars, this is true even for the most important one, logistics.

Usually when a side fights on home territory, can field bigger armies that are better equipped and fed, then have they have better logistics. Yet we can still find plenty of examples of such sides losing, like Agincourt:

The English had very little food, had marched 260 miles (420 km) in two and a half weeks, were suffering from sickness such as dysentery, and faced much larger numbers of well equipped French men at arms.

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  • I thought about Agincourt, but I'm not sure that the English had better equipment - their logistics were far worse - I'd argue that their situation was even worse than the quote (please source the quote), but I'm not sure there was a clear advantage in equipment. – Mark C. Wallace Mar 30 '17 at 23:34
  • @MarkC.Wallace: The English certainly had a clear advantage in technology with their longbowmen. Whether that comprises an advantage in equipment is a debatable point. – Pieter Geerkens Mar 31 '17 at 1:59

The vast majority of invasions & foreign wars. Whenever you choose to fight on foreign soil, you invoke a fairly dramatic handicap in logistics. If we limit the examination to conflicts where technology and equipment are roughly par, then distance to conflict becomes a significant discriminator in logistics. Defenders can count on frequent, if not ubiquitous resupply.

  • Rome - Conquest is the definition of poor logistics. Concentrate on the Eastern wars, or the frequent internal civil wars.

  • War of 1812 the UK trounced us from across the ocean. All logistics devoted to the USA had to be diverted from an existential conflict against an entire continent. Although the UK had equipment superiority, they were forced to fight us with their "C" team because the A team and the B team were busy fighting off everyone else in Europe.

  • Battle of the Nile - Nelson fought in the Mediterranean, near the coast of France. Nelson had lost his scout squadron and relied on luck to find the French. Their equipment wasn't radically different, but Nelson destroyed the French fleet. (the deciding factor was neither equipment nor logistics but boneheaded tactical decisions).

  • Vietnam - (arguably we didn't "lose", but I think that is outside the scope of this question.). US and French equipment was clearly superior, but their logistics were vastly inferior to the locals who lived among their supplies.

  • Falklands - The UK had a long logistic tail; the Argentine's could resupply locally.

  • Every carrier deployment in history. Carriers are about logistics.

The dichotomy you're drawing also assumes that the soldiers, sailors, airmen & marines are all fungible. They're not. The quality of the warriors decides many battles.

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  • The British were actually well supplied in the Falkland's, for example they didn't have the constant equipment failures and dud bombs like the Argentines did. Lack of maintenance is due to lack of spare parts, which is a logistics problem. The rest of the examples don't show differences in quality of equipment even though the side with poorer logistics did win for political or tactical reasons. Also, carrier fleets usually blockade and whittle down an islands logistics first. If you can find a contrary example ill accept that. – Pain Fither Mar 31 '17 at 0:32
  • I may be missing something, but some of these examples showing cases where the side with better logistics won (Vietnam, arguably Falklands). – Greg Mar 31 '17 at 6:56
  • Did the USA had any logistic issue in Vietnam? Yes, resupplying a war across the ocean is a costly business, but the USA had way more than enough resources to do it. It were the North Vietnam trucks, roads and bridges the ones that were constantly under bombardment. Bombardment carried constantly by the well supplied US Navy airplanes. The fact that the Vietcong lived sometimes off the field does not mean that logistics were good for them, it means they were so bad that they had to live off the field (which means devoting time to raid supplies, risk antagonizing population, etc.) – SJuan76 Mar 31 '17 at 9:07
  • To put an example, it is often quoted that during the Vietnam war the USA dropped more tonnage of aviation bombs than during WWII. It had the logistics to do so! Could the same be said about the Vietcong/DRV have done the same? Was ever a shortage of supplies for the USA forces (avoiding siege situations like Khe San)? – SJuan76 Mar 31 '17 at 9:11

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