21st TSC staff rides analyzes D-Day logistical aspect

Story and photo by Mike Bowers
21st TSC Public Affairs

NORMANDY, France — Analyzing logistics and its impact on the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion from the up-close perspective on Utah and Omaha beaches and other venues in Normandy, France, was the focal point of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s staff ride Aug. 21 to 24.

Participants, who included selected 21st TSC senior leaders and subordinate brigade command teams, dissected the complicated logistic strategy used to support the Normandy invasion in which more than 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles and 570,000 tons of supplies came ashore within 24 days of the operation’s beginning.

“I thought it would be nice to visit one of the most historic battles in the history of the United States that we participated in, but look at it not from the operational perspective, but from the behind-the-scenes tasks that made it successful, which really was a true logistics effort,” said Maj. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee, commanding general of the 21st TSC.

“I think, in the future, we will most likely execute tasks where we will have to open a theater under fire, and we have not done that. There is a generation that doesn’t actually know how to do that,” Piggee continued. “So, I thought it was important for us, as the future senior logisticians of the military, to look at a battle where logistics was extremely important that led to success and how we can learn from those lessons and be prepared when we are asked to execute similar operations in the future.”

The training objectives for the staff ride were to analyze the D-Day sustainment plan from staging to execution, describe challenges of command and control during expeditionary sustainment operations, and assess port and theater opening
operations and exterior sustainment lines of communication during combat operations.

Visits to Port en Bessin (petroleum port), Pointe du Hoc, Utah Beach Museum and the Normandy American Cemetery were part of the agenda. The 21st TSC chaplain conducted a short memorial service in the cemetery’s chapel that was followed
by a dual flag-lowering ceremony.

Presentations by the staff highlighted various D-Day logistical insights and how Normandy was one of the most complicated and largest operations ever attempted with a continuous process of initiatives and experimentation.

The 21st can trace its logistical roots to World War II, when the buildup and stockpiling of supplies resulted in the formation of the Communications Zone in May 1944.

By V-E Day in May 1945, U.S. Army Communications Zone, Europe, had furnished more than 21 million tons of supplies to 61 combat divisions.

Although the 21st TSC’s sustainment mission continues today, the command also oversees a military police and engineer brigade, in addition to having duties previously fulfilled by the 1st Personnel Command.

“It’s building a team, building trust and confidence among all members of the team,” said Piggee about one of his staff ride’s main objectives. “We have people on our team who don’t know everybody on our staff and other brigades because
we are so diverse with multiple career fields and because we are spread all over Europe.”