Founded in 1944, the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA) will be celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2019. To commemorate this milestone event, we will be publishing a series of articles selected from our archives that will highlight important events in our Association's history.
In nearly every war or conflict our country has been involved in, from the Revolutionary War right up to today's military actions, there has always been a crucial need for transportation and logistics support. Invariably horses, wagons, and later trucks, railroads and airplanes, helped our countryman to augment our military forces.
During the course of these conflicts, "on-loan assets" became quite skilled in the transport and resupply functions they were asked to provide. Processes were developed, priorities set, and ways to transition civilian transportation operations to military methods were developed. It is interesting to note, said long time NDTA President LTG Edward Honor, USA (Ret.), that in more recent wars private sector transportation companies did more than simply transport materiel. They provided senior management and cadre the means to operate the military railroad system, and developed an industry/military affiliation program with the motor transport industry as a means of transferring expertise from the private sector to the military. Sealift was the workhorse for over-ocean transportation of people and materiel as our air transport system was not fully developed during this period.
Usually by the end of any given conflict, civilian transportation and logistics functions had become quite integrated and very successful. Then, when peace returned and all of the equipment and personnel was sent back to its donors, experiences gained during the conflict were too quickly forgotten or marginalized. Rather than maintaining a stand-by capability, or "warm base" ready to call into action for the next war, the prevailing opinions seemed to be that we'd probably never be faced with the same situations again. Perhaps not true--remember "the war to end all wars!"
Finally in 1944, as WWII was drawing to a close, the folly of again reducing to near zero transportation capability as peace returned was recognized--and something was starting to be done about it. Seven Army Transportation Officers (two Lieutenant Colonels, three Majors and two Captains), believing in the seriousness of the problem and the power of numbers, pledged to band together and...