By Robert D. Paulus and Kari J. ChenaultOctober 1, 2019
This issue of Army Sustainment commemorates 50 years since the publication of the first issue of Army Logistician, the original version of Army Sustainment, in September 1969.
This publication has been dedicated to providing, in the words of 1969's Department of the Army Circular 310-72, "timely and authoritative information on U.S. Army logistics concepts, plans, policies, procedures, operations, and developments to the Active Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve."
FILLING A PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GAP
A Jan. 22, 1969, Army Times article announced the establishment of the new publication, stating that "the magazine will improve communication among logistics personnel at all levels, promote their professional development, and increase the level of understanding of the role and importance and challenges of Army logistics."
The article went on to explain that the magazine would fill a gap that the Army Logistics Management Center at Fort Lee, Virginia, had discovered when it investigated the need for an official logistics periodical in 1967 and determined that no existing journal or periodical "could be used to update the information on logistics presented at Army service schools."
Likewise, the Fort Lee post newspaper, The Traveller, reported in a Jan. 9, 1969, article, "In order to keep abreast of his profession, a logistician is required to research a great variety of separate sources, both official and unofficial.… [Army Logistician] will enable the Army Logistics Management Center to fulfill its mission in the field of continuing education of logisticians."
Thus, Army Logistician made its official debut with the 32-page September--October 1969 issue. Since then, thousands of Soldiers of all ranks, Army Civilians, and even defense contractors have sent in articles for publication. The publication became a respected source of information, a professional development resource, and a forum for discussing the latest ideas from the field.
Army Logistician/Army Sustainment has always been produced at Fort Lee at the Army Logistics University and its predecessors, the Army Logistics Management Center and the Army Logistics Management College. Since the beginning, it has been published under the sponsorship of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4.
Originally, the periodical fell under the Army Materiel Command, which assumed command of the Army Logistics Management Center in August 1962. Both the Army Logistics Management College and Army Logistician were transferred to the Army Training and Doctrine Command in October 1991. The Army Logistics Management College was reorganized as the Army Logistics University in July 2009.
The founding editor of Army Logistician was Thomas A. Johnson, a former historian at Fort Lee and an Army National Guard officer who retired as a brigadier general. Mr. Johnson was editor for 18 years, and his policies and procedures formed the foundation of the publication's operations and organizational culture throughout its 50 years.
He was succeeded in 1987 by his longtime associate editor, Terry R. Speights, who emphasized professionalism and service throughout his 30 years on the staff and at the helm of the periodical.
In the pre-digital days, an author would mail a proposed article to the Army Logistician staff in the form of a paper manuscript. An assigned staff editor made changes to the manuscript and then typed a new version for review and editing by senior editors.
The staff editor then incorporated all of the changes and typed up a clean copy of the edited article to mail to the author for review and approval. Once the author approved and returned the article, it was sent to the art department with any proposed graphics.
For many years, Army Logistician had two staff artists to accommodate the workload of producing original art and laying out articles for the printer. With in-house artists just down the hallway from the writer-editors, the periodical had the ability to produce drawings, maps, and charts when a submitted article had few or no suitable graphics.
Throughout its history, Army Logistician/Army Sustainment has used a contract printer to print and mail each issue. But in the pre-digital days, the art staff would prepare physical materials, including article manuscripts, photographs, charts, original artwork, and detailed instructions on how to lay out the issue. The art staff would pack everything up in a big box and ship it to the printer.
The printer laid out the issue according to the instructions and prepared a mockup of the issue, known as the "page proofs," which was mailed back to the publication for review and correction as needed. The marked-up page proofs were returned to the printer, which then prepared a second mockup of the issue known as "the bluelines." The bluelines were mailed back for a final review and approval by the editor for printing.
Needless to say, this process, which seems so cumbersome today, required more time, more personnel, and more money. Postal spending was a significant line item in the publication's budget, both for shipping materials back and forth between the office and the printer and for mailing tens of thousands of copies of each issue to subscribers.
The art department usually had two artists, and the administrative staff usually had two secretaries. With the growing use of computers from the mid-1980s on (the first software used was called Spellbinder), it eventually became possible to produce the magazine with one art director/designer and one administrative assistant.
FROM MAGAZINE TO BULLETIN
A major change came in 1987 following a Department of Defense study of all department periodicals. Originally aimed at reducing the number of periodicals, the study instead resulted in the introduction of a new category of publication, the professional bulletin (PB). Army Logistician became PB 700 beginning with the March--April 1987 issue.
One of the features of PBs, designed to save money on production costs, was a prohibition on the use of full color in printing. The upshot of this guidance was that the bulletin for well over a decade was a black-and-white publication with one color permitted on the cover. Full color used extensively throughout the bulletin did not return until the May--June 2002 issue.
FROM ANALOG TO DIGITAL
The biggest change in the history of the bulletin mirrored what was perhaps the biggest transformation in the Army over the past decades: the increasing use of information technology and the move to digital operations. Although computers now can be found at every desk in the offices of Army Sustainment and are used in every facet of bulletin production and management, for almost 20 years all writing, editing, and administrative work at Army Logistician was done on typewriters.
The major move to digital operations came through the initiative of Janice W. Heretick, who served as editor from 1997 to 2006. Beginning with the September--October 1998 issue, Army Logistician was prepared totally by electronic means.
Staff writer-editors began to use prepress software to develop, edit, and save text for articles. The administrative assistant at the time, Joyce W. Pawlowski, was trained to use electronic prepress publishing software to lay out all text and illustrations for each issue. Thus the design and layout process was brought fully in-house for the first time, reducing the role of the printer to simply printing the submitted electronic files and distributing the printed copies.
FROM LOGISTICIAN TO SUSTAINMENT
A major change in the bulletin's history was the name change from Army Logistician to Army Sustainment. The change was made with the 40th anniversary issue, September--October 2009. The initial redesign of the publication for its debut as Army Sustainment was produced by the bulletin's contract designer from 2003 to 2011, RCW Communication Design, Inc., of Alexandria, Virginia.
The change extended beyond just a name. The bulletin's focus shifted to include more functions, and a reorganized and expanded board of directors issued a new memorandum of understanding.
The change from Army Logistician to Army Sustainment was advocated by the commanding general of the Combined Arms Support Command, Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers. The idea was to align the bulletin's mission with a significant change in Army doctrine and the resulting establishment of the Sustainment Center of Excellence at Fort Lee.
The revised Field Manual 3-0, Operations, issued in 2008, reintroduced the term "sustainment" (originally used in 1993) as a warfighting function and divided it into the sub-functions of logistics, personnel services, and health service support.
The new Field Manual 4-0, Sustainment, then being drafted, defined "logistics" as including supply, field services, maintenance, transportation, operational contract support, and general engineering support. The manual defined "personnel services" as including human resources support, religious support, financial management operations, and legal support.
So the scope of the bulletin expanded to reflect the broader functions of "sustainment" as opposed to the narrower function of "logistics," and a change of name seemed warranted.
REFOCUSING ONLINE PUBLICATION
In the early 2000s, Army Logistician moved online with the rest of the world. The first version of the bulletin's website included html versions of each article, sorted by issue, and pdf versions of back issues. The website had a search function, which made it much easier for readers to find information on specific topics. The digital publication made it possible to reach more readers with fewer printed copies, so the staff was able to reduce the number of hard copies printed each issue.
Several years later, Fred W. Baker III, the editor from 2012 to 2018, decided to expand the bulletin's digital presence beyond simply posting the issues online. He started by sending out a readership survey and, from that survey, found that the bulletin's audience was mainly reading Army Sustainment content online.
The bulletin's website was updated, and the staff began using army.mil to post articles. Using this platform made it easier for other Army offices to read and share Army Sustainment content. It also made it easier for Army Sustainment to share relevant news from sustainment units and commands. The responsive website design also made articles easier to read on mobile devices.
At the same time, the bulletin established a social media presence in order to share Army Sustainment articles and relevant material from other sustainment-related commands and agencies. Readers began receiving articles through Facebook, Twitter, Milsuite, Google+, and LinkedIn. Followers liked, shared, and commented on Army Sustainment articles, which allowed the content to be disseminated even further.
The effect of all of the technological changes on how the bulletin has been produced and distributed over the last 50 years is dramatically illustrated in the diminishing number of copies printed and mailed. Circulation of printed copies of each issue has declined from a high of around 100,000 during the Vietnam War, to roughly 55,000 by 1979, to 35,428 in 1998, 26,826 in 2003, 12,033 in 2010, to 5,344 copies of the September--October 2018 issue.
For a half-century, Army logisticians and sustainers have relied on Army Logistician/Army Sustainment to be a source of information about their professions and have used it as a forum for sharing their own experiences and ideas. Thousands of authors from across the Army and the Department of Defense have contributed to making it a useful professional development medium.
The bulletin published articles on logisticians' role in all the Army's major programs and initiatives. Readers counted on the publication for information on how to sustain the latest concepts, such as AirLand Battle, Force XXI, Modularity, and Multi-Domain Battle.
The approximately 55 writer-editors, art directors, designers, and administrative assistants who have been employed at Army Logistician/Army Sustainment have worked to ensure that the bulletin provided clear and accurate information on Army and Department of Defense logistics and sustainment plans, programs, policies, and operations. The staff strives to serve the sustainment community by providing them with a journal of record and a forum for professional discourse.
From its birth during the Vietnam War, through the end of the Cold War, and through the Army's operations in Central and Southwest Asia, Army Logistician/Army Sustainment has existed for one purpose: to serve and support the Soldier and civilian logisticians and sustainers who make warfighting possible.
Robert D. Paulus joined the Army Logistician staff in 1979 and served as the bulletin's editor from 2006 to 2012. He has a bachelor's degree in history from Montana State University and a master's degree in recreation and park administration from Clemson University.
Kari J. Chenault served as the associate editor of Army Sustainment from 2007-2019. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Virginia Tech.
This article appears in the October-December 2019 issue of Army Sustainment.