What is the best way to start a essay on logistics?

Expert Answers
kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absent context into which a discussion of how to write an essay on the subject of “logistics” is presented, it is difficult to provide useful insights other than the offer of broad generalizations.  Logistics refers to the multifaceted process by which an activity or operation is supported through the timely and consistent provision of material and other resources necessary to achieve success.  As the attached essays illuminate, logistics are involved in business, the conduct of military operations, and many other endeavors requiring a continuous supply and movement of component parts and services.  Inventory control, an essential part of the manufacturing and retail industries, involves the continuous supply of parts or finished goods consistent with the outflow of products to consumers or to so-called “up-stream” industries. 

The best way to begin an essay on logistics, therefore, is to establish parameters within which the topic will be discussed.  For example, if the essay is focused on military logistics, then the thesis could revolve around the importance of the timely supply of ammunition and food and water to troops in the field.  Following the first Persian Gulf War, designated “Operation Desert Storm,” in early 1991, the U.S. Army general responsible for logistics, Gus Pagonis, wrote an informative book, Moving Mountains: Lessons in Leadership and Logistics from the Gulf War (1994) in which he described the challenges he and his staff confronted in facilitating the support of half-a-million troops rapidly deployed to the Middle East following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  In beginning his informative discussion of that massive challenge and the success General Pagonis enjoyed, he observes that “running logistics for the Gulf War has been compared to transporting the entire population of Alaska, along with their personal belongings, to the other side of the world, on short notice.” 

If the topic is more focused on business logistics, the principles of support remain largely the same.  While the average business does not require the efforts needed to support a war to achieve its goals, the fact that the now-retired general continues to be asked to address business groups regarding the lessons he learned as a specialist in logistics speaks to the value the corporate world has found in his experiences.  For example, one chairman of a large company was quoted in discussing his corporation’s approach to supply chain management as having “. . . learned from Gus Pagonis to do an ‘ups and downs report’. . .” [See “Bally Technologies Boss Gets Weekly Progress Report,” Investors.com, August 9, 2013]  General Pagonis’ efforts by necessity – planning and executing large-scale military operations is considerably more complicated than found in the average business environment – required levels of innovation and adaptability that exceed the requirements typically found in the corporate world, but the fundamental translate into the civilian world. 

An essay on logistics, once better defined, can borrow from any of a myriad of examples provided in the literature of business and military affairs.  The first step, however, is to define precisely what component of “logistics” the student in question wishes to emphasize.  From there, the basic discussion is fairly straightforward. 

Stephen Holliday eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The key to a successful essay is to do some research before you begin writing--the research will not only help you gather facts to support your essay's point but also will help guide you to a workable thesis statement.  

Your first paragraph will contain your thesis statement--the point or argument you want to make about logistics.  If, for example, you wish to argue that logistics is important in both civilian and military efforts, you should look for examples that support that view.  An effective opening for the first paragraph, then, is to use statistics relating to the logistics involved in a particular effort--for example, when the Allies landed on the Normandy beaches in June, 1944, the successful landing depended, in large part, of having enough ships and supplies to land the troops and then to support them.  The logistics involved in this effort are well documented, and a quick Internet search would provide you with impressive statistics related to the logistical effort in one of the most important events in the twentieth century.  One of the great values of statistics to start an essay is that statistics are facts and therefore not disputable.  In other words, your reader can argue with your ideas, but not the facts that statistics represent.

After you have opened your first paragraph with statistics or anecdotes related to logistics, if you are making an argument about the importance of logistics, you place your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph.  By the time your readers get to your thesis, they are primed by your examples to acknowledge the reasonableness of your thesis simply because the facts you have used support the thesis.  Your readers may, of course, disagree with you about your conclusions at one point or another, but they cannot disagree with your facts.