Wednesday Words And Phrases: Logistics

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Ah yes… logistics. The science of transporting men and material from place to place. In military terms, it is the means by which the soldiers and sailors have places to sleep and recreate, bullets to shoot and food to eat. Without the logistics, service wars would be a lot more difficult to fight.

So where does the word “logistics” come from? How about the 18th-century French military? Originally logistiques and referred to one of the duties of the army’s quartermaster who were charged with finding the men places to sleep or to loger or lodge. They would then need to also make sure that there was food and supplies for the men.

The phrase logistics was apparently coined by Baron Jomini. A Swiss officer who fought with the French and later Russians during the Napoleonic Wars. He did so in his very popular Treatise on Major Military Operations.  Jomini was a contemporary of Clauswitz and between the two pretty much set the standard for European military thinking up until today.