The Interagency Logistics Course (ILC) offered by the Army Logistics University helps prepare local- through national-level agencies to participate in a national disaster response should the need arise. Based on recent weather-related disasters, it appears that the time to prepare for future disasters is now.
Part of this preparation was the National Level Exercise (NLE) 2011, which validated the ability of the participating states and agencies to prepare and coordinate a multiple-jurisdiction, integrated response to a simulated national catastrophic event in the central U.S. region known as the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). Now that NLE 2011 is over, after-action reports and discussions will likely indicate that there is a tremendous need and value added when the "Whole Government" community trains together before a catastrophic event takes place. As it relates to disasters, it is not a matter of if disasters will occur; it is a matter of when they will occur, and that fact makes interagency team preparation critical for all stakeholders.
The Interagency Logistics Course
Interagency training before a disaster is the purpose of the Interagency Logistics Course (ILC) taught at the Army Logistics University located at Fort Lee, Virginia. ILC is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the General Services Administration (GSA). The purpose of ILC is to familiarize students with logistics planning considerations that are applicable to disaster relief and humanitarian assistance missions.
The course provides a tactical- through strategic-level overview of interagency disaster logistics, identifies and discusses parameters for national logistics support coordination, and creates a forum for exchanging best logistics practices for interagency logistics functions.
Five classes, including a pilot, have been delivered so far at ALU, with students in each class representing the diverse cultures of the organizations and agencies that make up the "Whole Government" community. This course is not restricted to logistics students; it includes individuals in operations disciplines.
By providing a forum where logistics and operations staffs learn the capabilities of partner organizations and agencies, mission sharing can increase and redundant efforts can be minimized.
Why is ILC Needed?
ILC is an enabler that can serve as a catalyst for building collaboration and interagency familiarization. The collective local and international interagency community must train and practice together if it is going to maximize the employment of scarce life-saving and life-sustaining resources and reduce redundancy during times of major to catastrophic natural or manmade disasters.
The National Military Strategy of the United States 2011 states, "We will develop leaders who are capable of operating in interagency and multinational environments and providing liaison to other U.S. agencies, allies, and partners." As military missions in Southwest Asia draw down and reductions in forces occur as they have after past conflicts, the needs of the national and international interagency community will increase if current trends in natural disasters continue.
White House Directives, Congressional testimony and mandates, and numerous Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports state that appropriate action must be taken to prepare the Nation at the federal, regional, state, local, tribal, and private-sector levels for a catastrophic response and recovery action in the event of natural or terrorist disaster.
Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 3025.1, Military Support to Civil Authorities (MSCA); Joint Publication 3–08, Interagency, Intergovernmental Organization, and Nongovernmental Organization Coordination During Joint Operations Volumes I and II; GAO Report–10–364, DOD Needs to Take Actions to Enhance Interagency Coordination for Its Homeland Defense and Civil Support Missions; and the National Response Framework all address the need for interagency stakeholders to work together. The problem is that few agencies read doctrine and policies from partner agencies.
ILC helps local- to national-level logistics planners and operators from the interagency community prepare to work together during disaster events. This is accomplished by lectures and discussions led by subject-matter experts, including guest lecturers from the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, DOD, GSA, the Department of State, state and local governments, nongovernmental organizations, and other Federal departments and agencies, and culminates with a logistics planning exercise.
What Makes Interagency Coordination Difficult?
A saying in ILC is, "Logistics is not rocket science; it's harder!" The jobs of DOD, FEMA, GSA, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other responders are as difficult as they are important, but decisionmakers and managers have found that to be fully effective during a disaster, early interagency coordination is necessary for success.
Leaders face a range of barriers when they attempt such coordination. According to a GAO report, one main barrier concerns missions that are not mutually reinforcing or that may even conflict. This makes reaching a consensus on strategies and priorities difficult. Other significant barriers to interagency coordination are a lack of trust as agencies strive to protect what has historically been their turf and concerns over resource control.
ILC addresses current policy, doctrine, theory, and processes so that students develop an understanding of the various agency authorities and perspectives. This course also provides insights and explores the potential solutions that are needed to manage logistics at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels during a national disaster or incident. At a minimum, all first responders and stakeholders should be aware of the capabilities, missions, and entry points of the interagency organizations and agencies that they must interface with during a disaster or other mission. As is said in ILC, "Before you
can think outside the box, you must know what is inside the box."
The Interagency Logistics Course is ongoing at ALU. The dates for fiscal year 2012 classes are shown above at right. Those wishing to attend should register through the Army Training Resource Requirements System.
Guidelines for course registration are as follows:
- Students should be mid-to-senior level logistics managers from organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, or one of the military services (Active, Guard, or Reserve).
- Students should be military officers in the grades of O–4 through O–6, warrant officers in the ranks of W–3 through W–5, senior noncommissioned officers in the grade of E–8 or E–9, DOD civilians in the grades of GS–12 through GS–15 (or equivalent) assigned to, or en route to, a position requiring interagency logistics knowledge.
- Civilians from nongovernmental and volunteer agencies are invited to attend.
- International logistics exchange officers assigned to a U.S. joint-level or multinational staff billet are also eligible.
All others not falling into one of these categories by either rank or duties but who feel that they may benefit from this course may attend with an approved waiver. They should fax a request for a waiver, in memorandum format, with a justification to the ALU registrar's office at DSN 539–4240 or (804) 765–4240. They should be sure to include the course title and class number that they are requesting to attend.