Evolution of Army Civilian Logistics Education in a Multidomain Operating Environment

By Dr. Robert J. NeeleyFebruary 23, 2023

Graduates of the Army's Civilian Education System at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, on June 28, 2019.
Graduates of the Army's Civilian Education System at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, on June 28, 2019. (Photo Credit: Kari Hawkins) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Army of 2030 is undertaking a generational transformation to develop the capability to fight and win across multiple domains in a contested environment. This transformation includes an investment in the people who make up the Army force, both military and civilian. The time, resources, training, and education devoted by the Army to the development of its military and civilian force provide the Army with a distinct and competitive leadership advantage over its adversaries. Looking to a future strategic environment centered on large-scale combat and multidomain operations, it is critically important for the Army to maintain this advantage.

To do so requires a deliberate and continuous methodology to ensure Army leaders receive essential education, training, and broadening experiences focused on building professional leaders who are capable and ready to lead this nation’s Army now and into the future. Army Civilian professionals play an integral and essential role in support of a multidomain-capable Army. The Honorable Christopher Lowman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, stated the overarching goal for the civilian portion of the Army People Strategy is to leverage modern talent management practices to ensure Army Civilians can “respond with the skill sets that we own — and that only our civilians can bring to the table — to support the warfighter.”

Civilian Education: An Investment in the Future

The importance of investing in Army Civilian education to provide the essential foundation on which operational experience is applied cannot be overstated. Successful civilian education is a collaborative responsibility of the individual leader, the institutional Army, and the operational force. The Army invests in the development of its civilians through the Civilian Education System, which begins upon entry into the Army Civilian workforce with appropriate functional training and professional education throughout a civilian’s career. This investment of time and resources is a long-term investment in our civilian workforce as individuals and an investment by current Army leaders to develop the Army’s next generation of civilian professionals.

Civilian Education Important to Ensuring Army’s Success in Complex World

Army Civilians are critical thinkers, able to visualize creative solutions to complex problems. To be effective problem solvers supporting the Army’s goals and mission, Army Civilians must understand the strategic environment and be proficient in fundamental traits such as adaptability, agility, responsiveness, and resiliency. Through effective civilian education and development, Army Civilians become expert, responsible professionals who have learned the requisite knowledge, skills, and behaviors to build and lead world-class teams to meet the challenges of the 21st century operating environment.

Army Civilians as Stewards of the Profession

The Army deliberately develops its civilians through training, experience, and a formalized, structured program of professional education augmented by relevant functional training and self-development opportunities. This deliberate approach acknowledges the importance of developing a trained and educated civilian workforce for the Army and supports the Army stewardship principle to care for the people and resources in the Army family. The development of Army Civilians is an important and fundamental component of Army readiness and equips the Army with a ready and capable civilian workforce. Accordingly, Army Civilian logistics education must evolve at pace with doctrinal changes and emergent initiatives.

Evolution of Army Civilian Logistics Education through Full-Spectrum Learning

Per Volume I of DOD Instruction 1322.35, Military Education: Program Management and Administration, a main tenet of DOD policy, achieved through its educational programs, is the leveraging of a wide range of educational opportunities to develop a canon of professional knowledge for DOD personnel. Focusing specifically on the civilian workforce supporting the Army logistics enterprise, this education should produce experienced logistics civilian professionals who can provide expert logistics support, understand the tactical and strategic levels, and integrate logistics across all levels in support of national objectives. The Army Training and Doctrine Command Commander’s Vision 2023 accentuates this point regarding the modernization of functional training: the training and education of Army Civilian logisticians must adapt and evolve with new and emerging operating concepts such as multidomain operations with updated, relevant training, and new educational content centered on closing the gaps.

Lines of Effort

Functional logistics education provides Army Civilian logisticians with knowledge and skills from foundational training in basic logistics concepts to a higher-level curriculum focused on mastering Army logistics. Army Logistics University’s (ALU’s) College of Applied Logistics and Operational Sciences is leveraging four main lines of effort to facilitate the modernization of functional civilian training and education. The lines focus primarily on functional concepts, capabilities, and subjects central to the development of Army Civilian professionals, spanning enterprise logistics, capabilities development, data education, and operations research.

ALU regularly collaborates with course sponsors, supported commands and organizations, and other key stakeholders to review and revise existing course content to ensure it is academically rigorous and doctrinally relevant. ALU also fosters relationships with partners across DOD, industry, and academia to capture and incorporate best practices and innovations as part of its continuous approach to evolve and modernize the functional logistics education provided by the university. These efforts help ensure Army Civilian logisticians are provided with ample opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to support the Army fighting multidomain operations in a large-scale combat operational environment.

Educational Initiatives

To this end, ALU is undertaking new educational initiatives to modernize civilian education. ALU is working closely with key stakeholders such as the Army Materiel Command, the Army Civilian Career Management Activity, and other functional course sponsors within the four lines of effort toward an end state where students are provided relevant, value-added, and cost-effective training and education opportunities that meet warfighting and enabling force competency requirements in support of large-scale combat operations and multidomain operations at all levels of war. Current ALU courses are assessed, revised, and updated as necessary to maintain relevant educational content. ALU is redesigning existing and outdated courses to reflect changing doctrine to address new and emergent requirements. In 2023, ALU will begin the development of new courses, in subjects ranging from supply chain optimization to intermediate level logistics, and an integrated, progressive, and sequential data education strategy centered on sustainment data competencies.

Since the outset of the COVID pandemic in 2020, ALU has delivered world-class functional education to its students through a combination of in-person and virtual distributive learning. These educational delivery methods have been successful and enabled thousands of students to continue learning throughout the pandemic and beyond. ALU is adding blended learning, hybrid mixes of synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods, and interactive media instruction to the suite of available instructional delivery methods, which will allow students greater access to training through increased educational delivery options.

ALU is also working with its partners to establish a process for civilian logistics training and education governance to provide guidance and direction for functional logistics training programs. Finally, ALU is committed to its faculty’s continuing education and professional broadening. Civilian instructors are encouraged to seek out self-development in the form of additional training and education. They do and are afforded opportunities to attend educational development courses and programs, all with the goal of providing the Army’s civilian logisticians with qualified and exceptionally well-trained educators.


The educational development of Army Civilian logisticians is a critically important component of overall Army readiness and directly impacts the Army’s warfighting capability. ALU is focused on developing leaders and Army Civilians who are warfighting focused and globally aware, confident and competent in their craft, innovative and adaptive, and stewards of their profession. Through partnerships with key stakeholders throughout the Army logistics community and others such as the Army University and the Army Civilian Career Management Activity, ALU is working to modernize civilian logistics education to develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required from Army Civilian logisticians to support the Army in a multidomain, large-scale combat operating environment.


Dr. Robert Neeley currently serves as chairman of the Enterprise Management Committee in the College of Applied Logistics and Operational Sciences at Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a Master of Arts in organizational management from the University of Phoenix, a Master of Arts in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College, and a Doctorate of Business Administration from Walden University. Neeley retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel.


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


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