On Thursday 28 September members of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport were treated to a unique insight into the operations of the Irish Defence Forces prior to deployment overseas. The idea for this event began with Company Quartermaster Sargent Dave Williams from the 12th Infantry Battalion in Limerick, who is also Treasurer of the CILT Southern Section. Dave is part of the Supply and Logistics Team for all personnel and equipment from boots to bullets for the forthcoming deployment of troops to South Lebanon from November 2017 to May 2018.
Lieutenant Colonel Neil Nolan, Officer Commanding the 111th Infantry Battalion welcomed CILT members to Kilworth Camp, where the troops are currently based for central training and administrative purposes. The audience were given an informative summary of Ireland’s involvement with The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) from May 1978 to present day. From 1978 to 2001, over 32,000 individual tours of duty were completed. The Irish Defence Forces were again called to serve in UNIFIL from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2011 to present day, where the Irish Defence Forces currently have more than 300 personnel serving in the mission area. Unfortunately, this commitment to international peace has not come without a high price; 47 Irish soldiers have paid the ultimate sacrifice of life to the cause.
Following the warm welcome, Company Quartermaster Sargent Dave Williams stepped up to take the group through the logistical management and supply chain required prior to overseas deployment. Dave explained the 3-Phased Tactical requirements soldiers undergo and the increasing levels of detail supporting each phase. Dave’s talk was incredibly enlightening; clarifying that there is nothing remarkable about the hard work required to support intensive military training. His experience maintains that “effective communication and excellent leadership” are paramount. When these essential elements are not in place, the price in a military environment could potentially cost lives.
Dave Williams referenced the Economist article from 2013 entitled “The Humble Hero” to explain how important the simple container is for the Defence Forces. “Without containerisation we are on our knees, we are nothing without our supply chain”. Containers are packed to precision and hold all the supplies including kit and weapon for each soldier. Each soldier knows exactly where their kit is kept within a container and this makes storage, retrieval and transport very efficient. Furthermore, while in military theatre, sustainment outside of local purchase is predominantly by container resupply, which is co-ordinated by the Defence Forces’ National Stores Reception Centre in the Curragh.
Dave Williams took some time to explain some differences between commercial supply chains and military supply chains, while also illustrating how manufacturing methodologies such as Just-In-Time and Lean tools and techniques inform the military decision-making process. Being a contingency organisation, these commercial techniques are certainly adapted to store, control and manage large scales of inventory for all eventualities.
Following this presentation, members of CILT were treated to an incredible tour of weapons, personnel protective equipment and equipment. From the various small arms weapons systems to Mechanised Armour, Light Tactical Armoured Vehicles and heavy-lift DROPS; all was explained by the troops of the 111th Infantry Battalion with wonderful pride and detail. CILT members were then able to step on board armoured vehicles, troop carriers and various transport enablers for the Defence Forces to understand these from the user perspective. CILT members were treated to a demonstration of a very special and impressive container, the Defence Forces’ Command and Control (C2) tactical command station and office suite.
The members of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport sincerely thank CQMS Dave Williams, Lieutenant Colonel Neil Nolan, Commandant Eamon Cahill and the troops of the 111th Infantry Battalion for their time co-ordinating the visit and for their commitment of service to the Irish State. We wish you all every success; have a safe journey, a safe mission, and a safe return home to your families.