CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - “To a very high degree the measure of success in battle leadership is the ability to profit by the lessons of battle experience,” said Lucian Truscott in Command Missions, A Personal Story in New York in 1954.
With the Operation New Dawn drawdown steadily approaching, The 1st Theater Sustainment Command received leadership and professional development from Lt. Gen. (retired) William Pagonis on Sept. 8. Pagonis was the director of logistics during the Gulf War of 1991 and is widely recognized for his logistical achievements particularly during Desert Storm.
Pagonis received a tour of the 1st TSC retrograde operations took pictures and provided additional advice to soldiers along the tour.
After winning high praise from General Norman Schwarzkopf, Pagonis retired in 1993. Pagonis is also an author, having written Moving Mountains: Lessons in Leadership and Logistics from the Gulf War.
“We were given two years to get everything out of Iraq,” Pagonis said. “We did it in six months because the troops were the reason he was successful.”
He drew stories from assignments covering 29 years of service in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Panama, and bases all around the United States. Pagonis provided advice to those in attendance as he stressed the importance of learning from history.
“They transported equipment on barges during the American Civil War,” he said. “I transported artillery on barges during Vietnam [War]. We aren’t doing anything new, everything I’ve done in my career, somebody else has done previously, and we build on that experience.”
As the “logistics point man” for the U.S. Armed Forces, Pagonis held daily press briefings during operations and kept notes, and conducted after-action reviews. He sees Desert Storm as the beginnings of the logistics branch that is today a reality.
“It didn’t matter what your branch was; you were a logistician,” said Pagonis. “We tailored on the battlefield to meet the situation, and the logistical corps made all the difference.”
During his visit to Camp Arifjan, Pagonis noted another logistics success—Operation Desert Farewell.
“We always forget Desert Farewell,” said Pagonis. “When the war was over, I was able to send people home, but I stayed. They gave me 6,000 individual ready reserves who never dreamed they’d ever be called up.”
He noted that the National Guard and Reserve soldiers were as good as any active unit during his time as director of logistics.
He said they used the motto as soon as this junk is out of here you get to go home.
“That’s all the logisticians needed to hear to make it work,” Pagonis said. “We had sergeants doing the jobs of captains. It was a tremendous effort.”
His small team of logisticians tackled a mountain of logistics in supporting almost 550,000 soldiers in every single aspect of warfare and day-to-day support.
"The secret of logistics is never to lose sight of who the customer is,” Pagonis said.
The 1st Theater Sustainment Command continues the legacy of moving mountains as the drawdown of Iraq nears under the new leadership of Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Dowd, 1st TSC commanding general, who had served under Pagonis.