Apprehensions in the Supply Chain

Networks, Logistics, and Military Detention

To be presented at the Turbulent Circulation / Toward a Critical Logistics workshop at the University of Toronto

The field of military logistics has long focused on managing, accelerating, and reinforcing the supply chains that enable and sustain war. Recently, military logisticians have turned their attention to the imbrication of war with networked digital infrastructures. They seek to harness the power of digital devices (like handheld biometrics readers) and calculative techniques (like predictive analytics) in order to shape the contours of state violence, enhance military mobility, and enable lethality at a distance. This has led to new ways of supplying the ‘just-in-time’ battlespace, as the logistics of global war are increasingly interwoven with the practices of building and populating networked databases.

In this paper, I describe the effects that these transformations have had on military detainment—a wartime spatial practice now firmly ensconced in these dynamic distribution channels. I argue that this increased reliance on digital networks disrupts the relationships between inside and outside of the camp, between military and civilian supply chains, and between spaces of war and peace. I outline the ways in which military detention has become a central part of the global flow of data and things, and these landscapes of global distribution are equally central to the constitution of the war prison.