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FA 90: An Update on the
Multifunctional Logistician Program

The Army is undergoing its most comprehensive transformation since the early years of World War II. As a result of the changing battlefield and threat, the majority of the logistics units we are now fielding are multifunctional. Junior logistics officers are being exposed to multifunctional logistics experiences earlier in their careers, often in combat. Our logistics units require smart, competent, and confident leaders who have the training and experience to operate successfully, and not only as part of an Army team but also as part of a joint or multinational force. We owe our Army and our Nation nothing less.

Our multifunctional logistics program has come a long way since its inception in 1992. The proponent for functional area (FA) 90, Multifunctional Logistics, is the Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) at Fort Lee, Virginia. CASCOM, working with the combat service support (CSS) branch proponents and the CSS Division at the Army Human Resources Command (HRC), has undertaken several initiatives to address the reality of the predominantly multifunctional environment in which our logistics leaders are required to operate. These initiatives will ensure the relevance and readiness of our logistics officer corps during this period of dynamic change and into the future and will strengthen the FA 90 career field.

This article addresses some of the current major initiatives that impact all logistics officers who aspire to become the prime movers in our profession: competent and confident multifunctional logisticians.

DA Pamphlet 600–3

Department of the Army Pamphlet (DA Pam) 600–3, Commissioned Officer Development and Career Management, is the Army officer’s primary career guide. This pamphlet is used by HRC career managers, Department of the Army selection boards, personnel system staff officers, and officers in the field to make critical career decisions that impact individual officers and the Army as a whole. Since the last major update to the pamphlet in 1998, much has changed in the Army, especially in organization and business practices. A newly updated chapter on FA 90 (chapter 29) acknowledges the expanding role of multifunctional logistics and reflects an ongoing process of maturing that began when FA 90 was established in 1992.

The updated chapter on FA 90 clearly details the training and jobs required to become fully qualified as a multifunctional logistician. Much of the haze that obscured what was needed to be qualified as a multifunctional, as opposed to a functional, logistician has been cleared. Here are some of the more significant changes—

• Service in a logistics position outside of the officer’s basic branch is recognized as a multifunctional experience, and that service is credited accordingly.
• A specific list identifies FA 90 qualifying positions at the major and lieutenant colonel grade levels.
• A new policy allows an HRC panel to evaluate retention of the FA 90 designation by lieutenant colonels who have not participated in the FA 90 career path.

This last initiative ensures that only experienced, competent, qualified logisticians fill our multifunctional command positions, G–4 slots, and other critical Army and joint logistics staff officer billets. The first HRC panel met this year and reviewed the files of 208 Ordnance, Quartermaster, Transportation, and Medical Service Corps and Aviation Logistics officers from the fiscal year 2004 lieutenant colonel selection list. The panel certified 149 officers in FA 90 (71.6 percent) and decertified 59 (28.4 percent).

The message is clear: If you want to be a board-validated FA 90 officer, you must meet specified minimum qualifications. Gone are the days when you could carry the FA 90 certification without having served in FA 90 by the time you reached major (P) [promotable].

Command Rea lignment

Part of an ongoing assessment of logistics units and their functions was a review of current commands on the lieutenant colonel-level command selection list (CSL) to see if those commands were in the appropriate category. This is part of a continual effort to keep our logistics branches in step with Army Transformation and with evolving missions and functions across the force. As a result of this assessment, several functional logistics commands were moved to the multifunctional command categories. Two new multifunctional command categories, 6SM (materiel management) and 6ST (Surface Deployment and Distribution Command), also were created at the lieutenant colonel command-level. (See the chart above). The result is that there are now 104 commands in the multifunctional logistics command category. Of these, 75 are multifunctional tactical (6S). Only multifunctional logisticians can compete in categories 6S and 6SM. The 6ST category is open only to officers in FA 90 and branch code 88, Transportation Corps. (See the chart on page 4 for details.)

Currently, the HRC Colonels Division is studying the realignment of colonel-level commands to ensure that they mirror the categories and changes at the lieutenant colonel level. Clearly, if a logistics officer desires to command, multifunctional logistics offers the greatest number of opportunities. However, a few branch specialty commands will still exist and will likely have a place in our Army for the foreseeable future. (See the chart on page 5.)

CPL Certification Annotated on ORBs

As many logisticians know, the process of becoming a Certified Professional Logistician (CPL) is very arduous. Of those who try, only a few actually earn the coveted designation of CPL from SOLE—The International Society of Logistics. The CPL designation is a professional statement of competence and a personal statement of commitment to logistics as a career. In the past, however, CPL status could not be documented in official military records. Commanders in the field and career managers also had no way of tracking who in the military logistics community had this prestigious certification—until now.

In an acknowledgment of the importance of the CPL designation for multifunctional logisticians, CASCOM, with the CSS Division at HRC, has gained official recognition of CPL as a professional certification. The certification now can be annotated on section X of an officer’s Officer Record Brief (ORB). Tom Edwards, the Deputy to the Commanding General of CASCOM, summarizes the relevance of CPL certification for Army logisticians—

Professionals take examinations to certify their competence whether they are doctors, lawyers, accountants, or physical therapists. The Army cannot be excellent in logistics without excellent logisticians. I encourage any Army logistician who considers himself or herself a professional to study for and pass the Certified Professional Logistician examination.

TAADS Review of Logistics Positions

To assist career managers in assigning officers across the Army, CASCOM, with the proponents for the Transportation, Ordnance, and Quartermaster branches, spearheaded a major review of over 10,000 officer positions in The Army Authorization Documents System (TAADS). The rewrite of DA Pam 600–3 increased the timeliness of a review of positions to determine if they met the criteria to be considered multifunctional.

The result of the review was a recommendation that over 2,000 positions be recoded to FA 90, other logistics basic branches, or other Army functional areas. Another finding was the need for a designation for logistics officers performing duties that require officers qualified by education, training, or experience in any of the logistics branches but not requiring the expertise of a multifunctional logistician (FA 90).
With the rewrite of the FA 90 chapter of DA Pam 600–3, the criteria separating the skills and jobs of a functional logistics officer from those of a multifunctional logistics officer now are delineated more clearly. However, the staff working on the TAADS review faced a dilemma: Hundreds of officer positions of all grades clearly needed a logistician but did not require the experience of a multifunctional logistician or a specific functional logistics officer. Examples of these positions included Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) instructors, recruiting command positions, aides de camp, inspector general positions, battalion S–1s, and various indefinable staff officer positions. This dilemma resulted in a recommendation to establish a logistics officer immaterial code or a logistics officer designation.

Logistics Officer Designator

The rewrite of the FA 90 chapter of DA Pam 600–3 involved all of the principal logistics proponents. As the proponent staffs worked on the TAADS review, they were careful not to dilute FA 90-coded billets with positions that did not require the skills of a multifunctional logistician or were not optimum career steps to achieving multifunctional qualification. The TAADS review staff favored establishing a logistics officer designator similar to the old 03A, logistics officer immaterial designator, which existed before 1993. A logistics officer designator—perhaps a code such as 90Z—could be used on TAADS documents to identify logistics officer positions that do not require the skills of a specific functional logistician or a multifunctional logistician.

Although the logistics officer designation has not yet been approved by the Army Staff, the concept calls for every Transportation, Ordnance, and Quartermaster officer to receive the designation (90Z as an example) on graduation from the basic course. Medical Service Corps and aviation logistics officers will receive the designator upon graduation from the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course (CLCCC) or the Logistics Executive Development Course (LEDC). Officers who lose FA 90 certification on the recommendation of a HRC panel will maintain 90Z status.

The goal of establishing a logistics officer designator is to establish clearly the credentials (training, education, and operational assignments) required to support the FA 90 designator and to tie all logisticians, from a personnel management perspective, to a single logistics officer identity.

Feasibility of a Single Logistics Corps

Probably no other topic has evoked as much passion in discussions among military logisticians as the establishment of a single logistics branch or corps. However, consolidations of branches and occupational specialties are a very real possibility in the future. “The Army in 2020” White Paper asserts that the Army of 2020 will have only three branches. This might be extreme, but fierce competition for resources throughout the Department of Defense and the Federal Government, as well as the potential for increased efficiencies, make consolidations and eliminations appear both logical and beneficial. Now is the time, in this exciting period of transformation—when real change is being accomplished—to look hard at the logistics institutions and what they could and should look like in the next 10 to 15 years. A future force with one Army logistics corps may become a reality.

Should we and can we move to one Army logistics corps? Some may assert that we have a logistics corps now in FA 90 and in the structure of our officer education. For years, the logistics proponents have led the Army in combining functional resources. The Captains Career Course is combined at Fort Lee, Virginia, for Transportation, Ordnance, Quartermaster, and some Aviation Logistics and Medical Service Corps officers. Our CSS combat development efforts achieve much synergy by being combined at CASCOM. All of our logistics captains and majors are eligible to attend the Support Operations Course and LEDC at the Army Logistics Management College at Fort Lee and are encouraged to pursue certification as a CPL. These education avenues provide a common, predominantly multifunctional logistics foundation. Though numerous logistics jobs require functional expertise, the majority of logistics commands are multifunctional, and junior logistics officers are getting exposed to multifunctional experiences earlier in their careers. By the time logistics officers become lieutenant colonels, branch affiliations blur as officers from the core logistics branches of Transportation, Ordnance, and Quartermaster move through similar assignments and experiences.

We logisticians are our own worst enemies when it comes to focusing on a logistics officer’s branch. Our comrades in the combat arms and combat support branches recognize us corporately as logisticians and not by our affiliated logistics branches.
Arguably, we have been moving toward a single Army logistics corps since FA 90 was established in 1992. If we look at the ground we have covered over the last 12 years, including the initiatives described above and how our collective professional mindset has gone from a functional logistics outlook to a primarily multifunctional one, we all can be proud of our accomplishments. We Army logisticians are relevant, ready, and willing to embrace change, and we continue to evaluate ourselves and our processes so we can always provide the best support possible. However, before we totally plunge into a single Army logistics corps, we need to carefully study and resolve important issues regarding doctrine, organizations, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities. For example, our warrant officers and enlisted soldiers will be full members of any future logistics corps, but we will continue to count on them to be our premier functional logistics experts.

The Army Chief of Staff has stated clearly that everything is on the table for debate as we transform the Army—except our values. As professionals, we need to look at the concept of a logistics corps without being blindly bound by traditions, flags, branch insignia, and installations. It is far more important that we build the best possible Army to defend this country and purge parochial attitudes that inhibit our progress. Our current system of multiple logistics branches and the overhead they entail must be reviewed carefully. If multiple logistics branches create inefficiencies, waste resources, and fail to maximize readiness, then we need to consider consolidating them into a single Army logistics corps. ALOG

Major General Terry E. Juskowiak, USA (Ret.), was the commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee, Virginia, until 2 September. As of 1 October, he retired from active duty. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from The Citadel and an M.S. degree in contract and acquisition management from Florida Institute of Technology. General Juskowiak is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, the Quartermaster Officer Advanced Course, the Army Command and General Staff College, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and the Army Logistics Management College’s Logistics Executive Development Course.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Shumar is the Chief of Functional Area 90 Personnel Proponency at the Army Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Virginia. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia polytechnical Institute and State University. He is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College.