Southwest US border, 1916
Quartering of troops is one of three essential elements of military campaigns, the others being operations and logistics. Quartering of troops: with this concept I wish to encompass everything from orders for military deployment to employment, which operations would control but be at the same time supported further by logistics, and quartering itself.
How do we deal with the subject of quartering US troops today in our various campaigns?
Funny that there is hardly any comment among all the various strategic thinkers on this very important aspect, but then in reality, not soooo funny at all.
Still, it has unsurprisingly a long history.
Colmar von der Goltz wrote about it . . .
A question inseparable from the consideration of marches and transport is that of quarters. The soldier who, after a fatiguing march, finds good quarters, rapidly recruits himself, and gains strength for the following day; whilst, if bivouacked in the open field, exposed to wind and weather, he would, perhaps, have become incapable of continuing his march. A prudent regard paid to the quartering of the troops is the best means of counteracting the chance of casualties on the march. We have now arrived at a pitch of civilization which permits us no longer to regard the wood as our night quarters and the moon as our sun.
If the troops, immediately on the outbreak of hostilities, were to be collected in camps, they would soon be decimated without a single battle. Let us only reflect how much our troops suffered during the first rainy days of August, 1870. These experiences have led to the reintroduction of light tents, which afford some shelter against the weather, without encumbering the baggage column.
The Nation in Arms, 1906, pp 147-8
The (re)birth of the shelter half?
But just as with Mitt Romney's father, we have lost what little sense of our own history we ever had: command neither that recent nor deep in the past.
For instance our own Declaration of Independence lists in its 14 6 15th paragraphs of British Crown offenses the following:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states.
Pretty heavy. Yet, where is the strategic theory discussion today, especially given that the quartering of troops in Iraq is such a hot, but hidden, political topic . . . ? This only but one of our current military campaigns all of which include this topic. Still Iraq is unique, considering that it is the war that officially we are attempting to leave . . . ?
Need we ask? . . . and by asking we actually define ourselves which is the greater part indeed . . .