By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Dec. 14, 2007) -- The Army plans to develop a new corps of multifunctional logisticians with creation of the new logistics branch.
Today, captains from transportation, quartermaster and ordnance branches must complete the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course or the Reserve-Component Captains Career Course. Beginning Jan. 1, all officers completing that coursework will gain a new primary military operational specialty, 90A, that indicates their competence in all three logistics areas, said Maj. Gen. Mitchell H. Stevenson, commanding general of the United States Army Combined Arms Support Command.
"In the 21st century, we need logistics officers who are multifunctional -- officers not just focused on particular fields in logistics, but who are competent in all those fields," he said.
By joining the officers of the three logistics regiments into one branch, officers will expand and broaden their abilities to meet the needs of the modular Army, Maj. Gen. Stevenson said.
"No longer is it enough to be skilled in one particular area," he said. "We have got to be good across the board. And the more senior you get, the more we are going to focus you on enterprise organizations -- where you are thinking not in terms of what is going on in your particular area or operation, but knowing how the entire supply chain works. You'll need to understand the effects of one part of the chain on another part of the chain."
Maj. Gen. Stevenson said what the Army is doing with logistics officers is similar to what private industry is doing with its own supply-chain managers.
"The commercial industry is now hiring and training supply-chain managers," he said. "And our logisticians also need to be supply-chain managers. They must understand things like distribution centers, such as what the Defense Logistics Agency runs for all the services, and how they impact our ability to support operations in the middle of Northern Iraq."
The Army has chosen to begin development of officers into multifunction logisticians at the grade of captain. Maj. Gen. Stevenson said the decision was made to start multifunctional training at the grade of captain because it is at that level where officers become exposed to units that require them to be much more diverse in their capabilities.
"What we find is that by the time you make full colonel, about 75 percent of the positions in the Army call for multifunctional expertise," he said. "At the grade of captain, that number is already at about 50 percent."
Maj. Gen. Stevenson said captains from all components of the Army, including the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, will be affected by the creation of the Logistics Branch and the development of multifunction logistics officers.
"From the beginning, we knew that whatever we did, we wanted to ensure it applied across the board, because we have one total Army," he said. "Given the way we use the reserve components these days, and plan to into the future, it is important that all officers are trained and developed the same."
Currently, there are three Army logistics schools: the Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, Va.; the Transportation School at Fort Eustis, Va. and the Ordnance School at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. As part of a directive from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, all three schools must be consolidated at Fort Lee by 2011. Training for officers in the Logistics Branch will occur there.
While the Army will create the new logistics branch to merge officers in the three existing logistics branches -- transportation, quartermaster and ordnance -- those branches will not be eliminated. The Army will still have those career fields for our enlisted Soldiers and Warrant Officers. Additionally, lieutenants may continue to enter the Army in one of those three branches.