The U.S. Army will establish a Logistics Branch to help fulfill increasing requirements of an ever-changing logistics operational environment that requires the skills of a multi-functional logistician.
It will become operational in the coming months, said Lt. Col. Vickie Stenfors, Logistics Branch Proponency Office, Combined Arms Support Command.
“We expect the paperwork to be signed before the first of July,” she said.
Establishment of the branch was necessary due to several factors to include Army transformation plans which broaden the functionality of some organizational elements and requires officer personnel with multi-functional skill sets.
“Transformation and the changing of units from a quartermaster battalion, for example, to a multi-functional battalion, is dictating that officers change their focus,” said Stenfors. “No longer can officers be multi-functional logisticians on the side. When you have a functional area program, that’s what it is – a side program, rather than the primary focus of our officers.”
The creation of a logistics branch might be viewed by many as an exercise in formality, but Stenfors said that it is the first move in an ongoing effort to develop officers for the 21st century battlefield.
“It will require a change in the mindset and culture of some of our officers,” she said.
Currently, logistics is a functional area program. Logistic assignments are filled by officers from the quartermaster, ordnance and transportation areas of expertise who have completed the mandatory Combined Logistics Captain’s Career Course taught at the Fort Lee’s Army Logistics Management College.
Upon course completion, officers retain their branch affiliation and are assigned to logistics functional area assignments on an as-needed basis. Assignments include positions such as materiel management officer, logistics planner and logistics operations officer. The result, said Stenfors, was that some officers had varied multifunctional experience while some had none at all.
That won’t work in today’s Army because many of the units are multi-functional and have personnel assigned from all three combat service support branches.
“What we’re saying now is that officers at a certain rank are going to be expected to focus on the big picture, not just on their quartermaster, ordnance or transportation areas of expertise. To that end, we had to change our logistics functional area program into a branch.”
When logistics becomes a branch in July, all Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard quartermaster, transportation and ordnance officers who are CLC3 or equivalent Reserve training course graduates will automatically become logistics officers.
“About 4,500 Active Duty officers will be making this transition in July,” said Stenfors.
The first class of about 115 logistics officers will graduate from CLC3 July 6. They will wear a new distinctive logistics branch insignia incorporating major design elements of the quartermaster, ordnance and transportation branches. Officers will continue to wear the regimental crest of their respective branch as they will continue their affiliations with them.
“We’re not doing away with the transportation, quartermaster and ordnance branches,” said Stenfors. “A quartermaster officer can still be required to fill quartermaster positions at any time and all officers will be expected to maintain his or her skills in the respective functional area.”
Now that logistics will be a branch, it will have greater control over personnel functions that drive assignments, said Stenfors. Officers will simply be encouraged to land assignments in both the multifunctional arena and their functional area of expertise. The emphasis will be on varied experience. No longer will there be a template for career paths.
“The chief of staff of the Army (former CSA Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker) said that we’re going to do away with prescriptive paths,” she said. “You need to do a good job at whatever level or location your assigned and this will allow you to gain experience in order to be a successful logistics officer.”
So how does the pursuit of a varied career path affect promotions?
“In term of promotions, they’re not going to hold it against an officer if he or she’s had three logistics jobs and one quartermaster job,” said Stenfors. “That’s not the point. The point is doing well at the job that you were assigned.”
Stenfors said the creation of the logistics branch will not affect junior officers because many of them were developed in multi-functional units. Many senior officers, on the other hand, were largely developed in a particular functional area of expertise. The branch creation may be more of a challenge for them.
“They will need to adapt from their experiences and perhaps change their traditional views on what they thought made a successful officer,” she said. “Today’s logistics branch officers will need to be more, know more and do more and our senior officers must be able to coach, teach and mentor younger officers to be aware of all the ongoing changes within our personnel system.”
Stenfors said all officers may find guidance on key developmental positions in Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-3, scheduled to be released by the end of this year.