Saturday, November 05, 2005

Strategy, Tactics, and Logistics

Logistics is the forgotten third term, supplementing the oft cited Strategy/Tactics dyad:

"To repeat. Strategy is the art of making war upon the map, and comprehends the whole theater of operations. Grand Tactics is the art of posting troops upon the battle-field according to the accidents of the ground, of bringing them into action, and the art of fighting upon the ground, in contradistinction to planning upon a map. Its operations may extend over a field of ten or twelve miles in extent. Logistics comprises the means and arrangements which work out the plans of strategy and tactics. Strategy decides where to act; logistics brings the troops to this point; grand tactics decides the manner of execution and the employment of the troops."

From The Art of War by Antoine-Henri Jomini, 1836.

Strategy and Tactics made their way to cultural theory by way of Michel de Certeau and the Situationists. A recognition of the importance of Logistics as infrastructure (mobile or otherwise) could influence the tendency to privilege Tactics over Strategy. If Tactics are, as de Certeau points out, the methods of the users in cultural and spatial production, users must be backed up by Logistics if their methods are to be productive.

Ahierarchical planning (The City is not a Tree) can have the unintended consequence of privileging those users who can afford to be prepared, mobile, and adaptable. People who don't have cell phones can't forrm flash mobs, and cheap laptops, as MIT has recognized, aren't very useful unless they are independent of centrally located hotspots. In the absence of a total Strategy that "... comprehends the whole theatre of operations ..." we need distributed maps, distributed infrastructure, and distributed Logistics to operate independently on the ground.

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