By T. Anthony BellNovember 28, 2018
FORT LEE, Va. -- The Army Logistics University here is concurrently running three pilot classes to assess the feasibility of combining the Ordnance, Transportation and Quartermaster Basic Officer Leader Courses.
Culminating roughly two years of preparatory planning and curriculum restructuring work, the Logistics BOLC classes involve more than 400 students who are testing the "validity of using a single program of instruction for new Army logisticians versus three separate courses as it stands now," said Maj. William R. Mulkey, chairman of the Basic Officer Leader Department, Logistics Leader College.
"What we've done is pull the most pertinent information from each branch and combine it into a 15-week, two-day model for all lieutenants," he said. "We anticipate the end result will be graduates with a broader perspective of sustainment functions because their training is more diversified."
As it stands now, the legacy Ordnance, Quartermaster and Transportation leader courses are 16 weeks, 4 days; 15 weeks, 2 days; and 15 weeks, 3 days, respectively. The length of the pilots are based on the mid-range QM model.
BOLC can be described as the second phase of initial military training for officers -- the first phase is ROTC, Officer Candidate School or training at the U.S. Military Academy. ALU BOLC students receive training common to all officers and general logistics instruction as well as branch-specific training in classroom and field exercise environments.
Mulkey, who is quartermaster branch-affiliated, further elaborated on how the combined class should give junior logisticians a more detailed frame of reference that will enable them to function within branches to which they are not affiliated.
"We've found that a lot of lieutenants showing up to their new units of assignment are not always getting a job within their branches," he said. "For example, a quartermaster officer shows up at forward support company, but he or she gets a transportation job or something that is ordnance-related."
Assigning inexperienced officers to positions outside of their functional areas, though not ideal, is an operational dynamic based on mission requirements; and combining the basic leader course that better prepares them for the operational Army is a means of accommodation, Mulkey emphasized.
Amongst the students participating in the pilots, there is a prevailing sentiment the decision is a sensible one, but more work is needed to validate it as such. The officers seem to relish the exposure they get to the other branches, yet they acknowledge the course in its present form is far from its final state.
"I think having a better understanding of the Army in general and logistics across the branches will be helpful, depending on your unit (of assignment)," said quartermaster officer 2nd Lt. Mikaela Romesser.
Her classmate, ordnance 2nd Lt. Jacob Bergert, said feedback is critical to making the course viable. "We're providing recommendations to our superiors," he said. "I think it's going to be a good program."
The last pilot class is scheduled to graduate in early February. A combined course based on lessons learned from this evolution will follow but no date has been set, said Mulkey.
"We are not sure at this time when the first official LG BOLC course will start," he said. "As with all new courses or course redesigns, it can be a long process to consolidate the pilot course data, conduct analysis, and get everything vetted through the multiple levels of approval."
The BOLC courses graduate roughly 1,500 students yearly, said Mulkey. Quartermaster, Transportation and Ordnance officers are branch-specific until completion of the Logistics Captains Career Couse, after which they are assigned to the Army Logistics Corps as multi-functional logisticians.
The Army Logistics University, a CASCOM sub-element, is comprised of three colleges and the Logistics Noncommissioned Officer Academy for enlisted leaders. It was established in 2009.