Maj. Gen. Mark T. Simerly talks with quartermaster advanced individual training Soldiers on Dec. 19, 2022, as they wait in the boarding area at the Richmond International Airport.
Maj. Gen. Mark T. Simerly talks with quartermaster advanced individual training Soldiers on Dec. 19, 2022, as they wait in the boarding area at the Richmond International Airport. (Photo Credit: Ryan Sharp) VIEW ORIGINAL

As the Army modernizes how we fight, what we fight with, and who we are, we must invest wisely in educating sustainment professionals to provide holistic sustainment capabilities across a multidomain environment. It requires sustainers to rapidly describe what happened, diagnose why it happened, and apply the analytical competencies and skills that enable them to prescribe optimal actions that account for interrelated effects across the industrial base, the global distribution system, and the complex, multidomain battlefield. Additionally, all sustainment warriors must be tactically proficient and mentally resilient to adapt and thrive in large-scale combat operations (LSCO).

We are modernizing education across all cohorts to ensure professional military education (PME) and officer and warrant officer initial military training systems are responsive to acquiring and integrating new technologies while maintaining a distinct focus on sustainment fundamentals, leader development, and the knowledge, skills, and behaviors expected of sustainment leaders as part of the combined arms team. We recognize the importance of continuously assessing our education system to expertly develop our leaders and keep pace with unmatched technological advancements. Our education system must be the foundation upon which training and experience build and enable sustainment leaders to operate successfully in any environment.

Redefining Rigor

As part of the Combined Arms Center (CAC) effort to increase competency and performance outcomes in the learning environment, Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) is developing a framework for rigor in sustainment PME. Starting with the Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC), we are implementing a three-pronged approach that includes academic, tactical, and physical rigor. The combined experience of the three rigor components is designed to develop intelligent and resilient leaders capable of thinking critically and operating in a degraded environment.

Rigor has been deliberately modulated throughout BOLC to achieve four main outcomes. Students must be physically capable of moving rapidly and fluidly, under load, in a simulated combat environment. Academically, students must think critically in complex environments. Tactically, students must competently and confidently apply individual and collective skills to operate as a warrior and a member of a team at the platoon level. Lastly, resiliency to stress is achieved by increasing, decreasing, and combining the three aspects of rigor throughout the course.

Sustainment Common Core

The ability to conduct sustainment operations in contested theaters before and during armed conflict requires a community of professionals capable of effectively integrating the sustainment warfighting function (WfF). Regardless of specialty, every sustainer must understand how functional tasks and systems relate and connect to ensure freedom of action, extended operational reach, and prolonged endurance. Our education system must maximize every opportunity as we develop logistics and sustainment leaders for multidomain operations. We must provide Army officers, warrant officers, and NCOs with the foundational knowledge of core logistics and sustainment functions required to operate in current and future operational environments. Through the integration of Sustainment Common Core, CASCOM will arm students with a foundational understanding to make immediate contributions as a part of combined arms teams in LSCO environments.

Introducing Data

Future conflicts will be highly complex, lethal, mobile, and rapidly evolving, accelerated by emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, nanotechnology, and robotics. The multidomain environment demands and requires our forces to become more integrated, precise, predictive, and adaptive. Leaders can no longer make decisions in silos. The future battlefield will involve multilayered and interconnected domains, requiring Soldiers to find relationships between seemingly unrelated data streams. They must intrinsically consider many factors across multiple domains and leverage data to enable immediate and lasting military advantage.

Army Logistics University (ALU) is developing a program of sequential and progressive levels of data education embedded in PME for officers, NCOs, and civilians throughout their careers. Additionally, talent management will identify exceptional sustainers and connect them with the right opportunities to create sustainment data specialists. This approach will include expanding existing PME and functional courses, developing exportable interactive multimedia instruction (IMI) and programs of instruction (POIs), assessing civilian academic programs for equivalency, and increasing access to advanced academic degrees. The proposed approach will be practical rather than theoretical, blending math and computer skills with sustainment WfF requirements.

The Adjutant General (AG) and Finance and Comptroller Schools are leading multiple data analytics training and education efforts. Data analytics is incorporated into the AG Captains Career Course (C3) with 32 hours of instruction that cover data literacy, analytics, and visualization using Power BI, macros, and Excel formulas. Finance has incorporated the Basic Analytics Course into BOLC and is piloting the implementation of the Intermediate Data Analytics Course into the C3. Their NCOs and Advanced Individual Training Soldiers receive hands-on General Fund Enterprise Business Systems training and introductory basic data analytics training, soon transitioning into a full 40-hour block of instruction. They continue to partner with the University of South Carolina and have developed online options for data analytics courses that ensure widespread availability.

Joint Education

In partnership with the Joint Staff J-4, ALU continues to expand joint logistics educational opportunities. The Joint Logistics Course provides intermediate-level officer, senior NCO, and Department of Defense civilian logisticians an understanding of organizations, authorities, and processes associated with the joint logistics enterprise and the ability to apply joint logistics doctrine in a joint, interagency, and/or multinational environment.

We are in midstream in developing the Joint Sustainment Planners Course (JSPC) and in the early stages of developing a Joint Data Course. The JSPC will focus on joint planning and operationalizing logistics information and plans to support the commander’s intent in a dynamic environment. The core audience would include combatant command logistics planners and planners from service headquarters that directly support joint logistics operations such as Army theater and expeditionary sustainment commands. The Joint Data Course will focus on creating common logistics visualizations and conducting analytics using service-specific logistics systems and information available in Advana.

Logistics (LOG) BOLC Redesign

Since 2018, CASCOM has trained newly commissioned lieutenants to be multifunctional logistics officers. The decision to train this way was predicated on how logisticians at all ranks are being managed. Many lieutenants do not serve in their basic branch in their first assignment, frequently serving in other logistics positions before they attend the career course. We recognized we must train logistics lieutenants to be capable of operating the in the way they are being employed.

In early 2021, ALU began redesigning the LOG BOLC course with branch proponents. The redesign shifted focus to LSCO, implementing the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) U.S. Indo-Pacific Command scenario throughout the course. This scenario drives all lesson plans and practical exercises. The redesign effort didn’t stop in the classroom. New physical fitness standards, including a 12-mile ruck march and 4-mile run, were incorporated to help inculcate the winning warrior mentality. Dinings-in, physical readiness training challenges, and other extracurricular events are all executed from operation orders the students must write have all been implemented. The course builds toward a three-week field phase, which includes range operations, weapons employment, and land navigation. The phase culminates in a 96-hour opposition force driven exercise where lieutenants establish and defend field sites and conduct logistics convoy operations in support of a maneuver battalion. The course has been redesigned academically, physically, and tactically to modernize the logistics lieutenants’ capabilities and warrior mentality.

Captains Career Course Redesign

The Logistics (LOG) C3 is implementing a modernized POI to which it will transition in April 2023. Significant updates include the addition of a distance learning prerequisite, enabling the resident course to incorporate new data, supply chain, and threat lessons to better prepare officers to conduct logistics and sustainment operations supporting LSCO in a multidomain environment. The resident portion of LOG C3 remains a permanent change of station course scheduled for 20 weeks and three days.

The CAC and Army University designed and implemented distance learning as part of the C3 Common Core. The distance learning course includes a course introduction and five modules: Army Profession, Mission Command, Operations, Operations Process, and Training. Officers register for distance learning through the Army Training Requirements and Resource System and complete the training through the Army Learning Management System (ALMS) before arrival at LOG C3. The course can be accessed by searching the ALMS course catalog for "Captains Career Common Core (9-00-23 (DL))."

Warrant Officer PME Modernization

As part of an overarching CAC initiative, we are modernizing Army warrant officer PME to establish a more effective and efficient continuum of education tailored to develop military occupational specialty (MOS) centered on technical and tactical expertise. We will provide PME focused on MOS-specific employment, which increases learning across modalities and supports all Army compos. It will meet Army warrant officers’ personal, functional, and career professional developmental requirements and is nested with the Army People Strategy. The end-state is a career-long continuum of training, education, and skill assessments, centered on MOS and branch technical and tactical knowledge and skills that enable Army warrant officers to provide the needed expertise and meet the demands of Army 2030.

NCO PME Modernization

Throughout fiscal year 2022, ALU’s Logistics NCO Academy (LNCOA) led a digitization effort for NCO Common Core Competencies (CCC) lessons, a TRADOC initiative. ALU LNCOA began delivery of a multiphased approach that capitalized on the latest technology by utilizing a blended learning environment (BLE). The BLE is modernized learning that delivers NCO CCC to Advanced and Senior Leader Course NCOs, arming them with tools that refine their leadership skills and multiple core competencies such as leadership, readiness, operations, program management, training management, and communication. NCO CCC directly supports the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Golden Triangle and the Sergeant Major of the Army’s This is My Squad. The ALU LNCOA served as the pilot for NCO CCC execution from October 2021 through May 2022. On Oct. 1, 2022, we began executing the approved lesson plans. More than 851 NCOs have participated in the synchronous virtual learning environment.

Modernizing Civilian Logistics Training and Education

We are actively partnering with the Army Civilian Career Management Activity — Logistics Career Field and U.S. Army Materiel Command teams to modernize civilian logistics education. More specifically, we are redesigning functional courses, integrating distributive learning, blended learning, and introducing IMI into the delivery strategy. We are developing the Data Analytics Instruction Learning Strategy to be similar to our military courses. Our intent is to develop civilian education that is relevant, value-added, and cost-effective while ensuring Department of the Army Civilians are afforded training and education opportunities that meet the enabling force competency requirements and contribution to multidomain operations.

As we prepare for the next fight, CASCOM will continue modernizing sustainment education to maintain momentum, extend reach, sustain forces, and provide commanders with decision dominance on the complex future battlefield.


Maj. Gen. Mark T. Simerly serves as the commanding general of the Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Virginia. He previously served as the commander of the 19th Expeditionary Support Command. He was commissioned as a lieutenant of Air Defense Artillery and awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree as a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Richmond. He holds a Master of Science in national resource strategy from the National Defense University and a Master of Military Arts and Sciences Degree from the Army Command and General Staff College.


This article was published in the Winter 23 issue of Army Sustainment.


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