A War of Logistics
Parachutes and Porters in Indochina, 1945--1954
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Following the French reoccupation of Indochina at the end of World War II, the pro-Communist Vietnamese nationalists, or Viet Minh, launched a grassroots insurgency that erupted into a full-fledged war in 1949. After nearly ten years of savage combat, the western world was stunned when Viet Minh forces decisively defeated the French Union army at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. Logistics dominated every aspect of the First Indochina War, dictating the objectives, the organization of forces, the timing and duration of the operations, and even the final outcome.
In A War of Logistics, Charles R. Shrader meticulously examines both French Union and Viet Minh logistical units during the period of active conventional warfare, as well as external support provided to the French by the United States and to the Vietnamese by China. Although the Vietnamese had few advantages over their opponents, their military leaders brilliantly employed a highly committed network of soldiers and civilians, outfitted to accommodate the challenging terrain on which they fought.
Drawing on extensive research such as declassified intelligence documents, the reports of French participants, and accounts by Viet Minh leaders, including Vo Nguyen Giap and Ho Chi Minh, A War of Logistics provides in-depth coverage of the often-ignored but critically important topic of logistics in modern military campaigns.
A War of Logistics
French Union Combat Forces
Viet Minh Combat Forces
French Logistical Doctrine and Organization
Viet Minh Logistical Doctrine and Organization
The Opposing Transport Systems
French Sources of Supply
Viet Minh Sources of Supply
The Shape of Battles to Come
The Campaign for the Base Areas
The Campaign for the Lines of Communication
Planning and Buildup for the Battle of Dien Bien Phu
The Limits of Aerial Resupply
The Triump of the Porters
Logistics and the War in Indochina, 1945-1954
"This work is a major contribution to the study of the First Indochina War and the study of military logistics. It will be required reading for anyone studying the conflict between the North Vietnamese and the French Army in Indochina." -- Steve R. Waddell, author of United States Army Logistics: From the American Revolution to 9/11
"A valuable addition to the military history of the French Indochina War." -- Jeffrey Grey, coauthor of American Military History: A Survey from Colonial Times to the Present
"In his latest work on the history of military logistics, Charles Shrader once more demonstrates how close historical analysis of the interactions between military operations and how they are sustained is crucial to an understanding of modern warfare. In A War of Logistics, Shrader's history of how this intricate relationship decisively influenced the course and outcome of the First Indochina War transcends its immediate subject and makes an important contribution to our understanding of the art and science of war." -- Roger Spiller, author of In the School of War
"C.R. Shrader is a professional historian as well as a professional logistician, so it is no surprise that he has written a superb study of the first Indochina War with special emphasis on logistics. The U.S. Army, where he served as historian and logistician (including tours in Viet Nam) has a proud tradition of recording and interpreting its logistical history. This book transcends that tradition by giving full, balanced accounts of the logistical doctrines and operations of both combatants. Students of modern warfare recognize logistics as one of the key 'enablers' of battlefield success, and they seek lessons from 'asymmetrical warfare' to help them prepare for future challenges. A War of Logistics is filled with insights that will be useful to leaders at every level on tomorrow's asymmetrical battlefields." -- Brigadier General Harold Nelson, USA (Ret.), Former Chief of Military History for the U.S. Army
"In A War of Logistics, Charles R. Shrader meticulously examines both French Union and Viet Minh logistical units during the period of active conventional warfare, as well as external support provided to the French by the United States and to the Vietnamese by China. [...] Drawing on extensive research [...], [the book] provides in-depth coverage of the often-ignored but critically important topic of logistics in modern military campaigns [...] [and] full, balanced accounts of the logistical doctrines and operations of both combatants." -- McCormick Messenger
"[...] There's no doubt about the depth of Shrader's research [...] Shrader presents a continuous string of eye-opening stories and facts." -- VVA Veteran
"[...] [A] well-researched, meticulously detailed study of logistics in the Indochina War in Vietnam 1945-54.
[...] [T]his intelligent book reveals the critical role of logistics in the unsophisticated communist Viet Minh's victory over the modern, technologically advanced French." -- Military Officer
"Charles R. Shrader's new work on the First Indochina War [...] once again demonstrates the author's keen understanding of an oft-neglected facet of warfare.
[...] [F]or serious students of the Indochina Wars Shrader's book is an indispensable resource.
[...] Shrader's book is a tremendous boon to our growing, yet still very much incomplete understanding of the First Indochina War. A War of Logistics represents a treasure trove of archival and French language material delivered to an ironically resource‐poor Anglophone audience. While the casual reader will likely be intimated by the material, serious students and scholars of the Indochina Wars will recognize this as the definitive look into the main theater of the war for the foreseeable future." -- H-Net Review