The practice of logistics, as understood in its modern form, has been around for as long as there have been organised armed forces. In as much as the application of logistics covers many areas and organization in human activities the military remains outstanding in its use of logistics support. This could be based on the fact that logistics form an integral part of the elements of military science, which include tactics, strategy and intelligence. The provision of adequate logistics support has been vital to the success of military operations for centuries. The Persian Army successfully invaded Greece in 481 and 490 BC due to their superior logistics support. In recent times, during the Gulf War of 1991, the Coalition Forces were victorious due largely to the provision of logistics resources. This made the Commander of the Coalition Forces, General Schwarzkopf to refer to the war as “a logistician’s war”.
The term logistics, in its military application is defined by Jane’s Dictionary of Military Terms as ‘science of planning and carrying out the movement and maintenance of forces. It involves those aspects of military operations which deal with the design and development, acquisition, storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation and disposition of material’. As part of the disposition of the military on logistics operation, forward operating bases (FOB) are established, whose primary role is to increase on time on task for military personnel platforms. FOB is any secured forward position that is used to support tactical operations. An FOB may or may not contain an airfield, hospital, or other facilities. The base however may be used for an extended period of time.
The Nigerian Navy (NN) as an integral part of the Nigerian Armed Forces has taken advantage of the importance of logistics in military operations. Part of the development of the NN logistics system led to the establishment of FOBs. These FOBs serves as an important and strategic logistics support infrastructure. They aid re-supply and quicken fleet’s reaction time as well as increase time on task. The FOBs in the NN are located in Ibaka, Formoso, Bonny, Igbokoda, Escravos and Badagry.
These FOBs, in spite of their importance to the NN operates below capacity. This is mostly due to some problems such as lack of storage facilities, inadequate skilled manpower, inadequate infrastructures, inadequate funding and agitation for compensation by host communities. As a part of the inadequacies of infrastructures, the FOBs lack adequate platforms, water supply, maintenance facilities and jetties. As such, these FOBs operate only under the name and not on its proper functions. This therefore calls for a reassessment of the facilities of the FOBs to put them in proper position for effective and efficient logistic support.The purpose of this paper is to suggest ways of enhancing the effectiveness of FOB in NN logistics support operation. The paper is limited to logistics support in the NN. It is assumed that FOBs in the NN would continue to be an integral part of military operations. The paper will discuss the logistics support in the NN and give an overview of FOBs in the NN. It will thereafter examine the issues confronting FOBs in the NN and finally proffer a way forward.