October 01, 2002
Dumb Question #1

I haven't seen anyone mention this angle, which seems important:

What effect, if any, is the West Coast longshoremen's strike having on preparations for war with Iraq? Are there bunches of M-1 tanks and other heavy equipment parked on the piers waiting to be loaded that should already have been loaded and shipped out to the Gulf? Or does the military have a logistical system that is separate from the shut-down civilian system, or at least separate enough not to be slowed down by a strike? Just wondering.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at October 01, 2002 04:50 PM

If there were a national security issue, I'm sure there's a law that would let Bush force the ports open. I'm pretty sure there's such a law for railroads, and would be surprised if it weren't worded in a way to include ocean-going travel.

(Of course, sometime in the last year some judge decided that airplanes weren't "mass transit vehicles", so I could very well be wrong.)

Posted by: Robert Crawford on October 1, 2002 07:47 PM

When the Marine's embarked for Guadalcanal they had to load their own ships because the New Zealand warfies were on strike for more money because they were only getting four times what an infantryman in North Africa was being paid.

I wouldn't worry too much, what needs to happen will happen... one way or another.

Posted by: Murray on October 1, 2002 10:55 PM

There's a law that lets him force the port open anyway. I think that most cargo loading is done by the military itself, at their own bases. But I could be wrong.

Posted by: Jane Galt on October 2, 2002 08:15 AM

I'm pretty sure the military has its own transports. Go to http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/sealift.htm and scroll down to the sample loadout of a Naval Sealift ship. It's pretty clear that the Navy has things well in hand, with plenty of surge capacity.

Posted by: David Perron on October 2, 2002 08:47 AM

There are something like 4 to 5 brigade sets of armor in the area already, in Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, and, of course, the Kingdom, and more at Diego Garcia, in addition to the two (I think two) Marine assault ships. I think they're set.

Posted by: Jack on October 2, 2002 12:05 PM

I heard on Fox News the other night, that the dockworkers are willing to load military equipment. I believe Bush also has the power to force it, it needed.

Posted by: CGeib on October 2, 2002 02:40 PM

I don't think it matters what West Coast longshoremen do.

From Supporting the Troops: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Persian Gulf War, 1 October 1996:

"Shipment of material continued throughout August and September from five Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico ports."

Posted by: Lynxx Pherrett on October 3, 2002 07:05 AM

At the least, the President could get an 80-day injunction forcing everyone back to work under the Taft-Hartley Labor Act.

Posted by: Cato the Youngest on October 3, 2002 07:27 PM

Have been an active duty member of a couple of Armor divisions, and most recently a transportation unit of the National Guard. The military will contract with civilian companies to do the work, but is totally capable of getting the job done using it's own resources- including c-17's and c-5's and ocean going craft. Did you know the Army has more boats than the navy?

Posted by: John on October 4, 2002 08:56 PM

There's a big difference between owning a "boat" and a "ship".

The Navy has something called NAVCHAPGRUs that can do anything a longshoreman can do, and probably faster. All they have to do is activate them... although given a choice they're put to better use @ the receiving end.

Anything that's going to be there is probably already there (on MPF/APS ships from Diego Garcia and Guam), or in transit.

Aircraft are great for moving people and light equipment, but they're worthless for anything armored.

Posted by: Kevin on October 5, 2002 10:30 PM