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The Army’s New Logistics? Branch:
An Interview With CASCOM's Commanding General

In response to a growing need for all logistics officers to be multiskilled logisticians, the Army established the Logistics branch on 1 January 2008. Rather than being singularly focused on one of the existing branches, the new Logistics branch joins Ordnance, Quartermaster, and Transportation officers into one unified branch at the rank of captain. During their advanced officer training, the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course, these officers are trained to anticipate requirements and plan, integrate, and execute all types of deployment and sustainment activities. Major General Mitchell H. Stevenson, the commanding general of the Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM), recently addressed some questions concerning the evolution of the officer logistician and what is in store for the future.

Major General Stevenson, what is the Logistics branch?

(Photo by Jorge Gomez, Fort Lee PAO)

The Logistics branch is the newest branch of the Army and is only for logistics officers from the grades of captain through colonel. Logistics branch officers are trained and experienced in supply, maintenance, and transportation—not just a single functional area. However, each officer in the Logistics branch is required to have one functional area of expertise—an aspect of logistics that he is especially good at—and through this means he will retain functional area competence for those jobs that are mostly branch-specific in nature.

Why was it created?

The Logistics branch was created because the Army needs multiskilled logistics officers, starting at the grade of captain. The primary battalion-level organization that provides multifunctional logistics support for the brigade combat team, the brigade support battalion, consists of a mixture of supply, maintenance, and transportation Soldiers. Within the brigade support battalion is a unit called the “forward support company,” a multifunctional company that provides supply, maintenance, and transportation support to each maneuver battalion in the brigade combat team. As you can see, to be an effective logistician in the new modular, brigade-based Army, logistics officers—starting with the captain who commands the forward support company—must be proficient and knowledgeable in all facets of logistics. We need our logistics captains to focus on becoming experts in multifunctional logistics, rather than just one aspect of logistics. Again, we are not walking away from functional area competence; all logistics branch officers will have a functional area of expertise in which they will concentrate their training and experience throughout their careers.

What does this mean for Soldiers who are already in the Quartermaster, Transportation and Ordnance branches? Have the different branches gone away?

The Quartermaster, Transportation, and Ordnance branches have not gone away. Logistics branch officers in the grades of captain through colonel make up less than 5 percent of the total logistics population in the Army. The other 95 percent of logisticians in the Army, who are functionally focused on a particular logistics specialty, still occupy the traditional Quartermaster, Ordnance, and Transportation branches.
Logistics lieutenants, the most junior of officers, still enter the Army in one of these three traditional branches. Their job is to become proficient in their basic branches. Our lieutenants still lead platoons of Soldiers from one branch. For example, a transportation lieutenant will be platoon leader of a truck platoon that is made up of Soldiers who are trained as truck drivers. An ordnance lieutenant might be platoon leader of a maintenance platoon that is made up of Soldiers who are trained to repair all of the different pieces of equipment we have in the Army. A quartermaster lieutenant will be the platoon leader of a supply platoon that is made up of Soldiers who receive, store, and issue supplies. After lieutenants demonstrate proficiency within their basic branches, they will attend the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course, where they will be trained on how to effectively blend all of these functions to support our Army on the battlefield. Officers in the grades of captain through colonel who have already completed the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course (or an early version of a logistics advanced course) automatically converted to the Logistics branch on 1 January 2008.

How does the creation of the Logistics branch benefit the Army?

Logistics branch officers are trained for, and often assigned to, multifunctional logistics roles as opposed to a single logistics function. Since the birth of our Nation, officers have been primarily functionally focused in a particular field, and that has worked well for us for over 200 years. But it will not work well for us in the future. We have recognized a need to change how we train and employ logistics officers, from captain through colonel, and so, with the creation of the logistics branch, we are accounting for this new need. As a result, Army logistics officers can be better prepared to provide the top notch logistics support to which our Army has become accustomed. Incidentally, we are not the only nation taking this step with our logistics officers, but no other nation is combining supply, transportation, and maintenance as ours has.

Why does the military need multifunctional Army logistics officers?

As Logistics officers progress through their careers, and the more senior they become, the more time they spend planning and executing missions that involve all aspects of logistics. When an officer reaches the field-grade level, from major to colonel, they not only participate in logistics activities at the tactical and operational levels but also at the joint and strategic levels. These joint and strategic levels involve coordination with the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and even other countries. Officers must have a wide range of logistics expertise and knowledge in order to be effective.

Within the Logistics branch, what types of assignments should officers have in order to be successful?

Logistics branch officers should strive to gain as much experience as possible in multifunctional logistics positions throughout the Army, and also remain skilled at their chosen functional area of expertise (for example, petroleum, oils, and lubricants operations). The new Department of the Army Pamphlet (DA Pam) 600–3, Commissioned Officer Professional Development and Career Management, was just published on 30 November 2007 and details the types of assignments that will allow our officers to develop themselves as logisticians. Officers should remember that all assignments are important, and they should do the best they can in whatever assignment they are given.

What are some of the attributes you would look for in a multifunctional logistics officer?

A multifunctional logistics officer must understand the warfighter’s concept of support and anticipate their needs for sustainment in all situations, at all times, and under all conditions. He must integrate logistics into the commander’s plan and respond rapidly to the ever-changing needs of the Soldier. He must be an expert in integrating the various aspects of logistics and, at the same time, use innovation and ingenuity when necessary.

How will the Logistics branch work within the Reserve component?

Within the Reserve component, the Logistics branch functions exactly the same as the Active component, except Reserve officers attend the specially designed Reserve component captains’ career course for logisticians. The Reserve captains’ career course began teaching and emphasizing multifunctional logistics instruction in October 2007.

Do you have a new branch insignia? Who is eligible to wear the new insignia?

Yes, we have created a new branch insignia. The insignia is a combination of the elements of our historical logistics regiments and demonstrates unity in purpose. Only officers who have graduated from the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course (or an earlier version of a logistics captains’ course) wear the new insignia. Lieutenants and warrant officers wear the insignia of the Ordnance, Transportation, or Quartermaster branches.

Please explain how the insignia was created and what it represents.

We decided to let our Soldiers have a voice in the design of this insignia. We advertised in Army Logistician that we were looking for designs, and over 115 readers responded with all different kinds of ideas. Although we did not use any one design exactly as it was submitted, we took elements of many of them and, with the help of the Institute of Heraldry, came up with what we have today.

The insignia consists of a diagonally crossed key and cannon, surrounded by a ship’s steering wheel with a stylized star in the middle. On the steering wheel is the Logistics branch motto, “Sustinendum Victoriam,” which is Latin for “Sustaining Victory.” This insignia represents the logisticians’ mission of planning, integrating, and executing logistics activities in support of the Soldier. The key represents supply (quartermaster), the cannon represents maintenance and munitions (ordnance), and the ship’s wheel represents movement (transportation). The star in the center represents the unity and integration of all of these functions.
If the needed equipment is not available, the RTSM may request a waiver of the task that requires the equipment; however, this leaves soldiers untrained on the task. In some cases, a task cannot be waived, so the RTSM cannot teach that particular course.

Is the insignia available for purchase through clothing sales? When will it become mandatory to wear the insignia?

The insignia is available for purchase now. Officers have until 31 July 2008 to purchase their new branch insignia. The all Army activities message 286/2007, published on 14 December 2007, further clarifies the rules for wear.

What office is responsible for managing the Logistics branch?

The Logistics Branch Proponency Office here at Fort Lee functions as the executive agent to the commanding general of CASCOM for all personnel proponency matters. The office is responsible for the Logistics branch’s personnel life-cycle management functions, including writing the Logistics branch section of DA Pam 600–3. The office also manages the Logistics branch portion of DA Pam 611–21, Military Occupational Classification and Structure, and ensures that personnel management policies, programs, and procedures established at all levels properly support Logistics branch-related requirements and issues.

The Logistics Branch Proponency Office advises and assists the Army Human Resources Command on branch personnel matters other than individual personnel management decisions. The office also works hand in hand with the Army’s Ordnance, Quartermaster, and Transportation branch proponency offices to ensure that the branches all stay in synch. The points of contact for the Logistics Branch Proponency Office are Lieutenant Colonel Vickie Stenfors, (804) 734–0315, and Rufus Montgomery, (804) 734–0312.

Where can people get more information about the Logistics branch?

For more information, you can go to the CASCOM website at www.cascom.army.mil and click on Logistics branch at the top of the page. We also have a topic site on LOGNet, which is the logistics section of the Battle Command Knowledge System. You can access this site using an Army Knowledge Online account at https://forums.bcks.army.mil.

Major General Mitchell H. Stevenson is the commanding general of the Army Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee, Virginia, and the chairman of the Army Logistician Board of Directors.