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Army Logistician to Army Sustainment: Continuity and Change

When the first issue of Army Logistician was published 40 years ago in the fall of 1969, our Nation was engaged in a long war against an often elusive foe on the mainland of Asia and a new President was in office, elected in part to bring that war to a successful and honorable conclusion.

Four decades later, it might seem that history is repeating itself. But we recognize that the particulars of today’s conflicts differ from that war of 40 years ago and that the global situation in which our Armed Forces now operate has changed profoundly. In 1969, the United States was locked in a worldwide competition with another superpower—a competition that seemed to be a permanent fact of life. Now, with the wisdom of hindsight, we know that the Cold War would indeed end and that the United States would emerge from it as the only superpower on the planet. And yet the peace dividend at the end of the Cold War would prove fleeting, as we were all tragically reminded on 11 September 2001. The geopolitical environment has changed over 40 years, but the need for a vigilant defense and robust military capabilities remains.

Those capabilities have of course improved in often spectacular ways over 4 decades. It is interesting to leaf through the pages of past issues of Army Logistician and see how the Army has evolved to meet new challenges and incorporate new technologies. For example, in the inaugural issue of September–October 1969, the lead article was authored by the commander of the Army Materiel Command, General F.J. Chesarek. While discussing the challenges facing the Army during wartime, he spotlighted the computer’s increasingly important role and the hopes the Army was placing on automation as a transformative technology—

We are fortunate that this “era of challenge” to do more with less coincides with an era of management revolution based upon the use of high speed computers. . . . Logisticians of the 1970s must be ardent enthusiasts for automation in all its forms.

General Chesarek foresaw in 1969 one of the major trends of the last 40 years: the Army’s growing use of, and dependence on, information technology. Another major trend has been a drive toward integration, whether of systems, branches, organizations, or Soldiers. The latter trend is illustrated by the rise of the multifunctional logistician, culminating in the creation of the Logistics branch in 2008.

These changes can be seen in the magazine you hold, digitally designed and bearing a new name resulting from doctrinal and organizational integration. The new name, Army Sustainment, reflects our expanded mission as the Army’s professional bulletin for the sustainment warfighting function. (See the article on page19 for an interesting perspective on the Army’s use of the terms “logistics,” “combat service support,” and “sustainment” over the years.) That function, as defined in Field Manual 3–0, Operations, includes logistics, personnel services, and health service support (which in this magazine will be limited to medical logistics and evacuation). So in Army Sustainment you will see more articles concerning such functions as financial management and human resources support. You also will notice some design changes, although we have sought to maintain a look consistent with our past; we have tried to change only when change has been necessary.

We do not view Army Sustainment as a new publication. Instead, we see it as the next chapter in the story of a magazine that has served the Army for 4 decades. We will continue to perform our three basic missions: to provide information on Army and Department of Defense (DOD) sustainment plans, programs, policies, and operations; to serve as a journal of record for Army sustainment; and to offer a forum to Army and DOD military and civilian personnel to share their thoughts and experiences.

Providing information is an obvious function of any magazine, but other venues, including the ubiquitous Internet, can disseminate information more quickly than a bimonthly publication. As a result, the latter two functions have perhaps become more important in recent years. We like to think that Army Logistician/Sustainment, as a journal of record, will always allow the sustainer to discover what his predecessors did and why and thereby place his own challenges and endeavors in a broader context. Forty years of Army Logistician articles have created a unique resource on the history of Army sustainment. (See the article on page 30 for a broader discussion of this aspect of the magazine’s role.)

Yet providing a forum is probably our most important function. Army Sustainment is a place where sustainers can tell their stories—what problems they faced, what they tried to do, what worked and what didn’t, and what lessons they learned. In this sense, Army Sustainment belongs to its readers. We hope, at this time of change, that you will continue to feel a sense of ownership of this magazine. Here, we hope, you will see your stories, and we encourage you to join in adding to the ongoing story of Army sustainment.

—Robert D. Paulus, Editor

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