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The Logistics Officer Corps:
Growing Logistics Pentathletes for the 21st Century

Logistics officers have debated the merits of combining Ordnance, Quartermaster, and Transportation Corps officers into one “Logistics branch” ever since the first multifunctional support battalion was established 25 years ago. With today’s emphasis on growing “pentathletes,” it is only fitting that the logistics community take a look at what logisticians have been doing for the last 15 years to see if the functional area (FA) 90 multifunctional logistician program is enough or if multifunctional logistics should be taken to a higher level.

As many logistics units evolved from functional to multifunctional in the mid-1980s, it became evident that training had to be updated. The Combined Logistics Officers Advanced Course (CLOAC) was established in 1992. CLOAC later evolved into the current Combined Logistics Captains Career Course (CLC3). In 1993, FA 90 was created within the operations career field to support the development of multifuntional logisticians. For the last 12 years, the FA 90 designation has been used to indicate a Soldier skilled in multiple areas of logistics operations across the spectrum of combat service support.

The charter to build Army leaders for the 21st century was the genesis of the establishment of the Officer Personnel Management System 3 Task Force in 2004. This task force is analyzing current personnel policies, procedures, and practices. As a part of the task force’s analysis, the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) charged the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) with developing an implementation plan for a Logistics Officer Corps.

The Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) took the lead within TRADOC and established a comprehensive integrated concept team (ICT) that included participants from Headquarters, Department of the Army; TRADOC; Army Forces Command; Army Medical Command; CASCOM; and the Active and Reserve components. The ICT met four times between November 2005 and April 2006 and, using the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System, analyzed requirements and capabilities, determined future needs, and identified capability gaps. This process facilitated the development of potential long-term solutions by establishing a comprehensive crosswalk among doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF) domains. Major tasks included analyzing current and future logistics units, reviewing logistics officer positions in manning documents, examining Basic Officer Leadership Course Phase III programs of instruction, and conducting a survey of logistics officers.

Some significant trends and insights surfaced during the analysis. For example, it became apparent that officers must be designated and trained as multifunctional logisticians earlier in their careers. Although approximately 60 percent of all logistics captain positions are currently functional, this number is decreasing. By fiscal year 2008, 55 to 60 percent of all captain positions will be coded multifunctional. Over 60 percent of field-grade logistics officer positions are already coded multifunctional, and that number is growing. Officers from all three logistics branches (Ordnance, Quartermaster, and Transportation) in the ranks of captain to colonel serve in many multifunctional-coded positions throughout their careers.

The analysis confirmed that, despite these statistics, there is a continuing need for functional expertise at all grade levels. Therefore, a way must be found to develop functional expertise in niche skills such as petroleum operations, strategic transportation, and explosive ordnance disposal. The analysis also revealed that life-cycle manning could affect the developmental assignments of officers in ways not yet modeled, and this could affect the experiences of logistics officers.

The ICT developed several courses of action that included training strategy modifications, doctrine updates, and organizational changes. In a May update on the progress of the ICT, the Commanding General of CASCOM presented several courses of action to the Chief of Staff of the Army.

The CSA-selected course of action met most of the identified requirements and described a Logistics Officer Corps made up of the three current “Logistics Corps” branches (Ordnance, Quartermaster, and Transportation) and the creation of a new Logistics branch. Officers will be inducted into the Logistics branch after graduating from CLC3. Each logistics officer will be required to have at least one functional area of expertise, such as petroleum operations or strategic transportation.

Many key tasks must be completed before this plan is implemented. The ICT expects the plan to be implemented fully by July 2007.

The number-one question on everyone’s mind probably is, “Okay, so what does this do for me?” There are several answers to this question

  • Establishing a Logistics Officer Corps makes it clear that, first and foremost, the Army expects its logistics officers in the grades of captain through colonel to be multifunctionally educated, skilled, and experienced. Command opportunities will be greatest in multifunctional units.
  • It also makes clear that the Army will continue to encourage its logistics officers to be competent in one or more specific functional areas of expertise. Not all jobs will be multifunctional. Some will be completely functional, and those will be open only to officers who have the credentials for those functional positions.
  • Officers in the grades of captain through colonel will not be branch focused or limited to only what is available in a specific branch. Rather, logistics officers will be able to pursue any functional area of expertise regardless of the basic branch into which they were accessed. Officers will continue to be associated with the Ordnance, Quartermaster, or Transportation regiment, starting with the one into which they were accessed as a second lieutenant, but they will be able to change regiments based on their desires and the needs of the Army.
Logistics officers have been leading the way on the battlefield by gaining as much experience as possible in all areas of logistics. The logistics community is now “kicking it up a notch” in order to stay in tune with what the Army needs from its logisticians in the 21st century.

Major Vickie D. Stenfors is the Chief of Functional Area 90 Proponency at the Army Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Virginia. She has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the U.S. Military Academy. She is a graduate of the Quartermaster Officer Basic Course, the Combined Logistics Officers Advanced Course, the Support Operations Course, and the Army Command and General Staff College.