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The Logistics Branch: Multifunctional and Functional

I read with interest the article on the Logistics Officer Corps in the September−October 2010 issue of Army Sustainment magazine. It contained good thoughts (although, as a point of clarity, the Logistics Corps did not become a “branch” on 1 January 2008; rather, the Logistics (LG) Branch was created on that date and became the fourth branch, along with Quartermaster [QM], Ordnance [OD], and Transportation [TC], of the Logistics Corps). I think this article was very timely.

However, I’ve sat through some briefings recently and listened to some exchanges on this topic, and I am a little concerned that, as an institution, we have not yet grasped what we put into place on 1 January 2008. I hear logistics officers continuing to be unsure as to whether they are OD (or QM or TC)—or LG. Of more concern is the notion that any logistics officer can do any job, so why pay attention to an officer’s functional area of expertise?

So, let me take the central theme of the article and highlight some of the key points for all.

Logistics officers (no matter what regiment they were accessed through) are LG upon graduating from the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course (CLC3)—Period. Our intent is for the officer to think of himself first and foremost as a multifunctional logistician. (An exception is the explosive ordnance disposal [EOD] officer, who, because of the unique requirements of that critical function, we rotate between EOD and ammunition assignments.)

However—and this is very important—every LG officer is required to have a functional area of expertise. You can generally tell what that area of expertise is by the regimental insignia that the officer wears and the regiment (TC, OD, or QM) with which he or she associates. We want this! It is crucial to the health of our Logistics Officer Corps! It is not a bad thing for LG officers to associate themselves with their regiment and be proud of the particular functional expertise that they, as members of that regiment, bring to the table.

What that means (or should mean) to the officer is that if he is a member of (for example) the Ordnance Regiment, he brings an expertise in things maintenance and munitions that no other officer can bring to the table. It also means that the officer must continue in self-study and look for developmental opportunities to sharpen that expertise throughout his career. Assignment and professional development managers in the Army Human Resources Command can help by ensuring that officers rotate between multifunctional jobs and functional jobs as much as possible throughout their careers. (I realize this is harder to do the more senior the officer is, but personnel managers must nonetheless factor in how long the officer has been away from a functional assignment, the same way they work to ensure multifunctional opportunities).

If you look at how we coded the positions for logistics officers on tables of organization and equipment and tables of distribution and allowances (and we’ve rescrubbed this three times in the past 4 years, honing it to a pretty good reflection of the skills each job really requires; the charts in the September−October article make this clear), they are not all coded 90A! We could have done that, but we deliberately did not because we recognize the fact that jobs remain out there (though they are a minority of the total logistics jobs, especially at the more senior grades) that are more functional than multifunctional and thus require a particular skill and experience.

Yes, it is absolutely right that any LG officer should be able to do any job coded 90A. (An exception again is the EOD officer.) But we should avoid taking the position that any LG officer, regardless of regiment, can do any and all functionally coded jobs.

I hope this makes sense. It’s all laid out in Department of the Army Pamphlet 600−3, Commissioned Officer Professional Development and Career Management. However, if you have questions, please bring them up on the net. Healthy debate and dialog and questions make us better. Disagreement is not disrespect!

Army Logisticians—Always There—Always Ready!

Lieutenant General Mitchell H. Stevenson is the Deputy Chief of Staff, G−4, Department of the Army.

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