An important contributor to the Army Materiel Command’s (AMC’s) drive to adopt private-sector best practices is the Depot and Arsenal Executive Leadership Program (DAELP). DAELP was established by AMC in 2003 to provide executive development for commanders and senior civilian leaders of the Army’s depot and arsenal facilities. It is managed by the Institute for Defense and Business (IDB) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in conjunction with the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The goal of the program is to give participants “a strategic overview of key functional, analytical and managerial elements required for effective leadership of large, complex organizations.”
The 6-month program includes 5 weeks of resident instruction at Chapel Hill provided by faculty selected from Kenan-Flagler and other leading graduate business schools and corporate and military leaders. Participants spend 1 week on a group orientation tour of representative armed services depots and selected corporations. Each participant undertakes several worksite projects at his duty station and has 4 weeks of on-site residency with one of the program’s host corporations. DAELP was designed for the Army, but participants now come from the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and the Defense Logistics Agency.
In an interview after the May 2007 DAELP graduation, General Benjamin S. Griffin, AMC’s commanding general, discussed the importance of DAELP’s role in facilitating exchanges of information and experience between military and private-sector logisticians as part of the larger and ongoing transformation of military logistics. He described DAELP as “a place where good ideas come together.” It exposes depot commanders to the latest information from a business school perspective, he said, and it provides a good environment for sharing ideas among depot commanders.
Among the innovations conceptualized through such exchanges of information with the private sector and the application of Lean Six Sigma principles, General Griffin mentioned the creation of Army field support brigades. “They are our face to the field,” he said. “They provide support for folks in the field . . . and feedback” for AMC research and development.
DAELP is only one of a number of programs operated by IDB, a non-profit research and educational institute established in 1997 by the State of North Carolina and the University of North Carolina. IDB is supported by Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations, research grants, contract and tuition revenues, and corporate and philanthropic underwriting of educational and research projects. IDB’s distinguishing concept is to bring participants from the military, Government, and private sectors together with business school faculty to teach, learn, discuss, and exchange information, in both structured and informal settings, primarily in the field of logistics.
In addition to its affiliation with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, IDB works with faculty from other institutions, including North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina State University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Michigan.
Another IDB program is the Center of Excellence in Logistics and Technology (LOGTECH), established in 2000. LOGTECH offers a master of business administration (MBA) degree curriculum in logistics and technology in affiliation with Kenan-Flagler and the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. AMC is the DOD executive agent for LOGTECH, which draws students, lecturers, and discussion leaders from all armed services and joint commands.
Through LOGTECH, the IDB also offers two executive education programs: the Program for Executives in Logistics and Technology, for flag-level military officers, executive-level civilians, and comparable private-sector executives; and the Advanced Program in Logistics and Technology, for O–4 to O–6 military officers, GS–13 to GS–15 civilians, and comparable-level participants from the private sector.
LOGTECH also organizes an annual Logistics and Technology Forum, involving approximately 90 military, academic, and private-sector leaders, and is a cooperating sponsor of the annual Focused Logistics Briefing held in London, England, which brings together military leaders from the United States and its major allies. The IDB and LOGTECH organize and manage numerous specialized programs by request of the military, including 1-week conferences and 1- and 2-day instructional programs.
The newest major IDB initiative is its Center for Stabilization and Economic Reconstruction, through which IDB provides education programs and delivers specialized support to the DOD in this increasingly important area.
Jerry Shinn is a former associate editor and editorial page editor of The Charlotte Observer.