Based on the decisions of the 2005 Base Closure and
Realignment Commission, the Army combined officer
training for the three Logistics Corps branches
at the Army Logistics University (ALU) at Fort Lee, Virginia.
Having the three logistics headquarters located at one post
has increased the potential for producing truly multifunctional
logisticians. However, this goal requires deviation from
traditional U.S. military education practices.
With guidance from the Army Training and Doctrine
Command (TRADOC), course developers meld doctrine
with personal experiences using the Adult Learning Model
when creating curricula for the Combined Logistics Captains
Career Course for company-grade officers and Intermediate
Level Education for field-grade officers. The amount of
knowledge generated by the dialog among individuals within
these courses is astounding. Knowing “death by PowerPoint” was the order of business, students used to dread attending
officer advanced courses. But those courses have transformed
into intellectual, scenario-based symposiums.
Students agree that they are better prepared for their next
positions after using this learning model. Captains, majors,
and lieutenant colonels gain confidence and improve their
competence as leaders by learning Army doctrine and then
discussing practical applications and potential shortcomings.
Adapting the Adult Learning Model for BOLC
The professional military knowledge shared among senior
logisticians is not being shared with novice logistics officers.
Second lieutenants attending the Basic Officer Leader Course
(BOLC) are exposed to the “death by PowerPoint” characteristic
of past advanced officer courses. One could argue the
faults of using the Adult Learning Model to instruct inexperienced
officers, but failing to integrate any personal experience
into BOLC misses an opportunity to cultivate logistics
in the profession of arms and engage in knowledge sharing.
The solution to reducing the knowledge deficit experienced
in BOLC is to establish mentorship groups led by superior
officers (majors and captains). This simple and near-zero-cost
solution would dedicate small blocks of time, as little as 1
hour per week, to examining subjects that lieutenants yearn to
know about for their first duty assignments.
Mentorship Program Advantages
Incorporating senior student-led mentorship groups into
BOLC would have many benefits. Lieutenants would learn
basic yet critical administrative principles that the current
BOLC curriculum quickly skims over or ignores altogether
because of time constraints.
The forum also would allow lieutenants to candidly communicate
with experienced officers outside of the high-stress
environment of the operational force. This type of mentorship
would also provide junior leaders with a comprehensive understanding
of the roles of senior leaders and an opportunity
to plan career progression.
Lastly, this type of forum would help improve leadership
techniques among field-grade and senior company-grade
officers by exposing them to the strengths and weaknesses
of groups of new logistics officers. Mentors would be better
prepared to manage expectations and tailor future training to
strengthen junior officers in their units. Although this is not
a panacea for toxic leadership, any pragmatic approach that
wards off destructive and neglectful leadership traits is worth
The fact facing the three branches of the Logistics Corps is
that lieutenants, whether assessed as Quartermaster, Ordnance,
or Transportation officers, may serve in positions
and roles not addressed in their respective branch’s BOLC
curriculum. Distributing mentors from different fields of professional
and personal experience and expertise to lead small
groups of BOLC students is a mechanism that ALU could use
to broaden the education of these officers from the start.
By effectively increasing the knowledge base of our junior
officers, we can better prepare them to assume any logistics
role when they arrive at their first units. Professional development
and personal mentorship of officers has largely become
something of a lost art as a result of the rigorous training requirements
and deployment cycles over the last decade. Providing
mentoring officers with officer professional development
opportunities will allow them to hone their professional
development skills and show junior officers “what right looks
like” in the schoolhouse.
This small, budget-friendly investment can reap dividends
for our force by sending the best prepared lieutenants and senior
officers to their next duty assignments fully prepared and
capable of accomplishing the mission together. By emphasizing
such a program, the Logistics Corps will send a message
that it is serious about the future of its leaders and ready to
spearhead a necessary cultural change for the Army.