FORT LEE, Va. – Leaders and staff members of the Army Logistics University gathered for a 10-year anniversary celebration July 2 in the facility’s multipurpose classroom area.
University President Michael K. Williams spoke about the significance of the moment during remarks that followed a slide show depicting highlights from the past decade and preceded the cake-cutting that concluded the formalities.
“Today is all about the pride of this institution,” Williams told the staff of roughly 100 assembled for the observance. The full complement of instructors, administrators, department managers, support personnel, etc., totals over 600.
“We produce the best trained and ready logisticians the world has ever seen,” Williams boasted. “We can deploy our forces anywhere in the world and sustain them as long as we want, and a big reason our defense department has that capability is because of what you do here.
ALU is where logistics leaders are built. It is a “composite campus” for DOD uniformed and civilian education. Key departments include the Logistics Leader College, the College of Professional and Continuing Education, the Technical Logistics College and the Logistics Noncommissioned Officer Academy. Particularly unique is its international student program, which draws participants from more than 40 countries, including the recent addition of Vietnam.
David Rohrer, deputy to the ALU president since 2011, said the university came into existence when defense department leaders designated Fort Lee as the Sustainment Center of Excellence as part of Base Realignment and Closure legislation passed in 2005. The cost of the complex was $136 million. In tandem with Bunker Hall, the two university buildings provide approximately 340,000 square feet of indoor space. There are more than 200 multi-use, reconfigurable classrooms that can be used for instruction and teleconferencing.
“Most importantly, it brought together all of the proponents for leader education – Quartermaster, Ordnance and Transportation – and unified the focus on providing the best training and education we can to every student regardless of their branch affiliation,” Rohrer said. “From that point on, most of the conversation changed to ‘what can we do together to improve this or that curriculum.’ Many of the brightest minds in the sustainment business were under one roof engaging daily to up our game.”
A prime example of this enhanced interaction and its end result is the Logistics Basic Officer Leader Course pilot launched last year. Two years of preparatory planning and curriculum restructuring work led to a first-time class rotation in which more than 400 students tested the validity of using a single program of instruction for new Army logisticians versus three separate legacy courses focused on quartermaster, ordnance or transportation-specific tasks. The goal was to prepare lieutenants for the wider range of non-branch specific leadership roles they will likely take on early in their military careers. Final approval of that curriculum is pending.
“Our message to the operational Army is that we are providing the sustainment leaders for today and tomorrow, and you can count on them to do their job whether it’s serving as a platoon sergeant or leader, a company commander, or a member of the support staff,” Rohrer said. “That’s a huge promise; one I think we’ve never lost sight of since the beginning.
“We have to give (students) that foundation to help them serve as the technical experts and trainers of their skill set. It’s what we have to be proud of at the end of the day,” he also observed. “I’m reminded of the significance of what I do when I walk into this building each morning and see so many young, energetic faces who are committed to the task of becoming logistics leaders. That hasn’t changed since my first day on the job, and it never gets old. A close second is interacting with the faculty every day. I think they see things the same way I do, and they are professionals in every sense of the word.”
Those interested in learning more about the shaping of ALU and historical highlights from the past 10 years are encouraged to visit www.fortleetraveller.com and type “Army Logistics University” in the search bar.