Complexity of Military LogisticsProfessor Peter Nyhuis, managing director of the Institute for Factory Plants and Logistics at Leibnitz University of Hannover, Germany stated in his book "Contributions to a Theory of Logistics" that "logistics in particular is characterised by a very high degree of complexity, which essentially results from the scope of the task but also from the multitude of internal and external influencing variables." This applies to military logistics, as well. On the one hand, the tasks cover different areas such as ensuring basic performance in standard service or implementing a supply chain network to sustain a force in an operation. On the other hand, environmental influences such as available resources, multi-nationality, partnerships, or different kinds of operations must be taken into account. In addition, current military logistics mega-trends, such as digitalization, automation, and autonomy, and micro trends (e.g. additive manufacturing and bionic enhancement) must not be ignored.Overall, military logistics faces a complex and rapidly changing environment. This increase in complexity leads to new or increased demands on logistics management. It is precisely these demands that military logistic leaders must be able to meet. These leaders must be adequately educated to deal successfully with these challenges.Differing Views on a Military Logistic Leader The military logistic leader can be viewed from different angles depending on what is in focus. This results in different perspectives on the same topic. The six-sided die is a suitable form to show these views of a military logistic leader because no matter from which side you look at this die, you always see a die but with different numbers. Since the sum of the numbers of the opposite sides always is seven, logical interdependencies result automatically.The developed cube can be used to describe levels, tasks, and competencies of a military logistics leader (see Figure 1). The top side shows the essential and central tasks. Namely, these include supply chain management; the development of logistic concepts, plans, and guidelines; as well as the development of logistics capabilities as a contribution to force development. The left-hand side lists the various command levels at which the leader carries out his or her activities. The front panel shows the various competencies.Using this cube, aspects from different areas can be combined with each other, whereby the interrelationships can be presented transparently and comprehensibly.Task-oriented PerspectiveIn principle, the military logistics leader must be capable of planning, coordinating, and controlling the logistics support of a force in a multinational, joint, and interagency environment. This person controls the actions and activities of all networked actors in the military supply chain. It covers the entire path of the supply goods (with the associated money and information flows) from the strategic base (i.e. the industry), to the military strategic level where the items are integrated into the military logistics system. The next step is storage and distribution at the operational and tactical levels and further on the use by the forces. It is thus to be understood as a network of vertically-linked actors who have expressed the will to cooperate and share responsibility in their actions. The goal in military supply chain management is therefore to maintain a balance of the latent tension between all the actors involved and to increase effectiveness and efficiency.The basic specifications through concepts, plans, and guidelines in the field of logistics support are the starting point for efficient and effective actions. Therefore, decisive participation is required. In the context of force development, the aspect of logistics should not be neglected. The contributions through specific research are indispensable. A holistic and comprehensive view on development lines is necessary both in a national and multinational context. .Level-oriented PerspectiveThe military logistic leader is active on all three levels of military command—namely military-strategic, operational, and tactical—in order to ensure the sustainability of the deployed forces and be able to plan, control, and lead by means of instructions or guidelines.Logistical support at the military-strategic level contributes to the fulfilment of the tasks of the defense sector, based on the political or strategic guidelines, by means of planning, provisioning, and determination of equipment. These tasks are assigned to the central management, i.e. the German Ministry of Defence or the Department of Defense in the United States .Logistical support at the operational level performs cross-sectional and joint logistic tasks. Its area of responsibility includes the theater logistics base with defined transfer points for logistical resources to the tactical command level. A support directorate coordinates national, multinational, and civilian logistics resources in accordance with the special requirements of the operation. The range of uses of a military logistics leader extends from the head of the coordination center to the head of a specialized branch within it.Logistics at the tactical level supports the respective service of the armed forces. Its area of responsibility ranges from the component down to the brigade or battalion level. Military logistic leaders are the commanders of support battalions or the heads of logistics branches in the headquarters of a brigade, such as the commander of a joint logistics support group.Competence-oriented PerspectiveThe expanded range of tasks of military logistics leaders requires a multitude of competencies, which can be systematized according to the "four-skill approach." These are personal, professional, methods, and social competencies. These competencies weigh differently depending on the level of command, but only the totality of all four components is called action competence.While the personal competence includes abilities and attitudes that reflect the individual's attitude to the world and especially to the job, the professional competence covers the knowledge of the methods, techniques, or procedures used in a specific area. The leader should have the ability to link, deepen, and critically examine specialist and interdisciplinary knowledge and to apply it in action contexts. This ability is based primarily on a good education as well as experience and professional training.The methods competence is the ability to make optimal use of existing specialist knowledge. Through a methodical or systematic approach, and a creative combination of information and knowledge, plans are developed to achieve a goal. Due to the increasing complexity of military tasks and the dwindling half-life of specialist knowledge, the importance of methods competence is growing.Social competence completes this approach. It deals with the way in which the leader interacts with employees in a manner appropriate to the situation. The aim is to motivate the coworkers in such a way that they work in the sense of achieving the goals. Loyalty must be built up and social phenomena must be perceived and influenced. These are mainly communicative skills, which become important in connection with teamwork and partnerships.ConclusionMilitary logistics leaders face a complex environment. The key to managing these challenges is education. Wilhelm von Humboldt stated in his writings in the early 19th century, education (the German word is “Bildung”) “is the stimulation of all human powers and this leads to a self-determining individuality and personality.” In other words, education describes the ability to use one's critical mind in order to act in a reflective manner.Education within the framework of teaching and study courses must have a high priority and is the only way to provide leaders the necessary tools to master the complexity of military logistics. In order to meet this broad requirement, targeted and often purpose-specific training is necessary. Life-long learning in national, but also in multinational military or civilian educational institutions can build up, maintain and expand the necessary logistics knowledge.---------------------Austrian Col. Prof.(FH) Andreas Alexa currently serves as a researcher and lecturer at the National Defence Academy in Austria. He is the head of the department and lectures on military logistics for the Master’s Program Military Leadership.