Lt. Gen. Charles R. Hamilton, the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, and John E. Hall, the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, sat down with Army Sustainment to offer their thoughts on the evolution of the Army Sustainment Enterprise’s approach to train and educate its entire professional workforce for future operations in accordance with current doctrine.
Historically, the Army has leveraged unit-focused, top-down training and education to prepare its sustainers for joint operations geared toward a single adversary in a targeted theater. How will the changing future operational environment impact the development and delivery of sustainment education to best support the Army of 2030?
Hamilton: We need to be prepared to change and subsequently reinforce how we fight and sustain large-scale combat operations across multiple domains, and that all will start with training and education. Delivering predictive and precision logistics will be central to how we reconsider modern formation protection to sustain warfighters at echelon, and all of this will be done in a potentially disconnected and contested environment. Training and education are both influenced by our perception of what the next large-scale fight will require, with the understanding that a more holistic — and not strictly top-down — approach is necessary. For instance, we know we will have to rethink how we deliver supplies in the future, which becomes increasingly complicated in a multidomain battle-space. Advancing our predictive and precision logistics capabilities by training our workforce to execute data-enabled sustainment will ensure we can deliver supplies to a dispersed unit before they’re needed.
Hall: Recent updates to Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, assert that combat formations frequently bypass enemy forces, so sustainment forces must be ready to protect themselves in that future environment. Naturally, these changes will drive a holistic review of FM 4-0, Sustainment Operations, to ensure our sustainment doctrine reflects the Army’s operational needs at echelon. We’ve already started that revision process and anticipate publishing an updated FM 4-0 in early 2024. As Hamilton mentioned, training sustainers to deliver predictive and precision logistics will enhance their ability to protect and sustain in that disconnected and dispersed area of operation. Sustainers must be trained in both the art of maneuver and the science of logistics delivery, rooted in our understanding of how we can leverage our enterprise data to inform faster and more reliable decision making at echelon. Army Logistics University (ALU) is putting us as an Army Sustainment Enterprise on a sustainable glidepath toward that end-state through a targeted data education strategy baked into their curriculum for military and civilian logisticians.
Over the course of the last decade, how has the Army Sustainment Enterprise adapted its technical logistics training to account for the emphasis placed on data analytics skills?
Hamilton: If you look at the last 7 to 10 years, dominated mostly by counterinsurgency operations in a single theater, we became accustomed to delivering sustainment from an established forward operating base to a point of need. We know supporting multidomain, large-scale combat operations will not come with that stable luxury; the battlefield will be much faster and more complex, replete with fires. As Hall mentioned, using data to inform decisions at and across echelons is the crux of the issue. Training has been adapted to account for the reality that each logistician needs to have the knowledge and skills in their hip pockets to understand, interpret, assess, and communicate insights they can glean from our massive streams of enterprise data.
Hall: The technical science of logistics and sustainment — with data analytics at its core — is used to inform and influence the art of command. From the civilian perspective, technical training is more available and aims to be more broadening in nature because we realize the value those analytical skills bring to the table for our warfighters. The first advice I’d offer to any logistician, whether you’re a civilian or not, is to make yourself a technical expert in what you do daily — understanding that analytical expertise will inform commanders and help them make decisions with the resources they have at their disposal. Training has adapted over time to account for that large-scale, fast-paced future fight wherein rapid and reliable analytics expertise will be a game changer.
How does striking the balance between the art and science of sustainment delivery shift throughout a service member’s or civilian’s career?
Hamilton: From start to finish, you need to have a healthy balance in both, and much of that balance is driven by leadership and how they may choose to emphasize one or the other to influence decision-making processes. The goal of being predictive and precise while applying targeted analysis to a given situation is to make challenging decisions at echelon much easier for commanders. The scientific aspect is easy to envision through modernized capabilities such as advanced manufacturing and autonomous aerial resupply. Our ability to appropriately field those capabilities for commanders involves that balance of science and art. We must be ready to identify and use cases with the most positive impact on our warfighters based on experience and our perception of the future fight. More often than not, this balance will be contextually fluid. Weighing art over science for one scenario may not be the optimal decision for the next, and vice versa.
Hall: Striking a balance that may be situation-dependent is key, and I think the scientific perspective today is much more challenging. We have more tools to help us analyze and make those decisions than we’ve ever had before, but this also comes with a huge opportunity. Those tools — everything from open-source software to enterprise resource planning systems — allow us to be more predictive and precise within the scientific realm of logistics even when our principles remain the same. I want to reemphasize the importance of ALU’s efforts ensuring we as an Army have a strategy to train our logisticians to capitalize on all these tools now and in the future. Having an adaptive curriculum that allows our logisticians to pair their functional, domain-specific knowledge with the data analytics skills we need to sustain the future force is exactly what we need now to meet the Army and joint force’s needs in multidomain operations.
Is there an archetype Army sustainment professionals should reflect on as they develop new skills and progress throughout their careers? Have updates to doctrine and our logistics tactics, techniques, and procedures altered this over time?
Hamilton: This has absolutely evolved over time, but we don’t blindly compare the modern sustainer to their past counterpart. The modern sustainer must possess holistic operational knowledge and understand how to support multiple operations in dispersed theaters. Sustainers need to also be fully synchronized with maneuver commanders, as well. The bottom line is we’re all called to be stewards of our profession. You have to be well read, well trained, able to operate in all domains, and prepared to fully integrate with those warfighting functions you’re called to support.
Hall: There’s not necessarily one archetype that a great sustainment professional will fit. Rather, I would say successful sustainers are grounded in the science of logistics and committed to understanding the art of command while broadening their skills over time. This has been consistently reflected in doctrine. From the civilian purview in the logistics career field, we’ve worked over the last 10 years or so to create many more opportunities for civilians to leverage the education system to expand their skillsets and, ultimately, compete for Senior Service College slots later in their careers. This follows a different pattern than those leveraged for service members, but the outcomes have the same end-state in mind. From the Army’s standpoint, we need to make sure we effectively communicate and advertise what the system offers so people understand how and why they can and should seek those broadening educational opportunities.
Knowing what you do now about the Army’s approach to training, education, and leader development, what advice would you offer your younger selves first embarking on their Army careers?
Hamilton: I would tell a younger version of myself to continue to advocate for impactful education for our NCO corps. NCOs are absolutely the backbone of the Army, and their experience and educational capabilities are invaluable at the strategic, operational, and tactical level. If you’re a lieutenant arriving to meet your platoon, then you can rest assured you’re being given an amazing opportunity to learn from a platoon sergeant who has been in the Army for nearly 10 years, if not more. On the flip side, if you take that sergeant’s experience over multiple assignments they have had at varying echelons and train them at the strategic level, then you’re simply bolstering an already incredibly strong NCO corps. The bottom line here is you will learn an immense amount from the people around you and their experiences, and they will look to learn from those you bring to the table.
Hall: I’d like to echo Hamilton’s comments about our NCO corps. In my past life, I was a foreign affairs officer in Latin America, where I was embedded with several of their armies that did not have an NCO corps to speak of. The difference in their readiness versus our own was shocking because of the advantage we have, thanks to the experience of our NCOs. In offering advice to a younger civilian version of myself, I’d emphasize the importance of civilian leader development in ensuring we can recruit, train, develop, and retain the very best. Leaders at echelon need to be prepared to offer those broadening and learning opportunities to their workforce, meaning they need to be prepared to release them to go take a course or go to school. We need to send high-caliber people to available courses, although it will certainly hurt when you, as a leader, release them to seize that opportunity. However, I truly believe this will benefit the person in question and the Army as we best train, educate, develop, and retain a world-class logistics workforce that supports our warfighters better than any other organization.
Lt. Gen. Charles R. Hamilton currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4. He most recently served as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, G-4 3/5/7. Hailing from Houston, Texas, Hamilton enlisted in the U.S. Army. Upon completion of basic and individual training, he was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas. In February 1988, he graduated from Officer Candidate School as a distinguished military graduate and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps. He earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Virginia State University and master’s degrees in public administration from Central Michigan University and Military Studies from Marine Corps University. He is also a graduate of a Senior Service College Fellowship — Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellows Program.
John E. Hall currently serves as the Headquarters Department of the Army Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4 (Tier 3), responsible for Army logistics plans, policy, and programs. Prior to this assignment, Hall served as the Deputy to the Commanding General, Combined Arms Support Command. Hall is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College and holds a Master of Arts in Latin American studies from Stanford University, California, and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Arkansas State University.
Mike Crozier is a strategic analyst in the Army G-4’s Logistics Initiatives Group. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgetown University.
This article was published in the Winter 23 issue of Army Sustainment.