Red River bids farewell to logistics center
December 20, 2012
RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT, Texas - After 56 years of teaching leaders of the Army, the Army Materiel Command Logistics Leadership Center is closing its doors in January. Red River Army Depot has been the center's home.
ALLC serves as AMC's preeminent learning resource and contains a multifunctional staff which develops, implements, sustains and manages AMC's Fellows and Apprentices Programs.
Nearly 6,000 students have been trained at ALLC since its inception in 1956.
Probably the most popular of the ALLC programs is the AMC Fellows Program. The five-year Fellows program is 18 months of training consisting of core training and graduate education at the leadership center located on Red River Army Depot. The program allowed each Fellow the opportunity to earn a Master's degree in business or management. Upon graduation, each Fellow receives three 12 to 18 month on-the-job-training assignments. Each assignment is conducted at a different geographic location requiring each Fellow to move between assignments.
Other programs include the Apprentices Program, the Quality and Reliability Assurance Intern Program and the Safety Engineering Intern Program.
The long, rich history of ALLC can almost be told in its entirety by the director of the center, Dr. Ronald Higgins and the Dr. Mark Oestmann, deputy director for ALLC. Higgins has been a part of the logistics center for 47 years while Oestmann falls closely behind with 40 years of service.
Higgins was hired in 1966 as a math instructor. Oestmann begin his career with ALLC as a maintenance management intern in 1972.
Both instructors voiced that technology has been the most constant change since they began teaching.
"When we started our careers, there were no computers, no printers, no copiers; just typewriters, mimeograph machines and chalk boards," Oestmann said.
In the late 1950s, the Army saw the need for highly qualified, young careerists. They needed these young men and women to be trained and funneled through the Army's lower level management system. In efforts to fix the need, Red River was chosen as a civilian career intern training location.
The first class entered the Army Ordnance Supply Intern Training Center (OSITC) in May 1957. The center consisted of a chief and secretary. Since no faculty was authorized, guest instructors taught storage management to one class per year.
The facility fell under a new name in 1962 and became the Supply Management Intern Training Center (SMITC). With the new name also came two permanent faculty members.
Over the next few years, programs were added and the staff and faculty grew to 14.
In 1966, a contract was awarded to Texas A&M University to teach the second year of the Maintainability Engineering Program. Successful graduates were awarded Master's Degrees in engineering from the university.
As the years continued, change was evident. In March 1985, classes grew to over 500 students. The population increase provided a new wing to the the building which included the current auditorium.
The following year in 1986, the center was renamed to the School of Engineering and Logistics (SEL).
The final name change occurred in 2001. In years past, ALLC has not only conducted training for the Army's apprentices and logisticians but it has also performed specialized research in support of the Patriot and TOW missile systems for the Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command.
Higgins discussed the students who have come through the program.
"The exciting thing is most of the students are right out of college and we have the opportunity to help them develop from being a student to being a quick advancing federal employee," said Higgins.
Higgins continued discussing the students who have advanced to the ranks of Senior Executive Service.
"The most rewarding part is seeing young people come in and helping them develop the skills and ability to advance to be successful," he said.
The center once kept a wall of fame of all the SES members who graduated from the school.
"There are a lot of people who have moved into influential positions," Higgins said. "Patton Tidwell (RRAD deputy commander) graduated from the school and there are many others as well."
Many of the instructors for ALLC were students at one time. At the center's peak the faculty and staff reached 60 people.
"We've always been fortunate to hire good people," said Higgins. "There have been people who have come here to work for four or five years just to give the students the knowledge they possessed. I always thought that was a great thing for the school because people thought enough of it to want to move here just to share their knowledge with the students."
Higgins moved to Texarkana following graduate school.
"When I first came the Red River badges had stars on them and if you had five years of service you got a star," he said. "I knew I probably would not stay a year and I definitely knew I wouldn't be here long enough to get the 5-year star. But it has been a great job...it's not the same job over and over again because we get a new class of students every year or so."
Higgins and Oestmann said they are both ready for retirement and looking forward to spending time with family.
"ALLC will be a fond memory for me," said Higgins. "I'll miss working with the people more than anything."
Plans are underway to continue the engineering program as well as the quality program, according to Higgins.