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The singular feature about calculations for logistic support of military operations is that they are inevitable. No matter how difficult the process, or how long stalled, the requirement and capabilities for logistic support must sooner or later come down to hard, firm numbers expressed in meaningful categories of men, materials, and services. The tragedy of many an operation is that these numbers did not become known until it was too late to do anything about them.

Having accepted the thesis that some calculation is inevitable, the planner is then confronted with the problem of bringing the calculation process down to manageable proportions. Planning factors are a sort of mathematical shorthand, a set of convenient abstractions of the mountainous detailed planning which would otherwise have to be done as part of the function of logistic planning. To this purpose, they are used, and misused, by planners all over the world in every phase of military activity. This article is an attempt to describe the nature of planning factors, to show what they are not, to attempt a description of what they are, and in general to advance some thoughts as to what can and what cannot be done with them.


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