Army logisticians face challenges that require agile and adaptive leaders that are trained to execute multifunctional logistics operations. In 2018, the Basic Officer Leadership Department (BOLD) implemented cross-functional training into the course design. In 2022, Army Logistics University (ALU) introduced a new training strategy and redesign of the multifunctional Logistics Basic Officer Leadership Course (LOG BOLC). The realistic demand for multifunctional lieutenants outweighs traditional training approaches to single-function quartermaster, ordnance, and transportation officers.
Army Doctrine Publication 6-22, Army Leadership and the Profession, states a leader’s development happens in three domains: self-development, institutional, and operational. Army Centers of Excellence provide junior leaders with branch-specific or specialized skills training. Army Strategy reinforces institutional and operational domains by providing guidance, intent, and objectives for training Soldiers to sustain mission readiness. Successful training programs empower Soldiers with the tools and resources needed to improve in all three domains.
Leaders across the Army emphasize the importance of being able to multitask. Logistics leaders are not only required to complete multiple tasks simultaneously, but the Army also relies on logistics platoon leaders to be multifunctional. Throughout the years, there has been a constant requirement for logistics units to perform logistics operations in small teams dispersed across austere operational environments. These teams operate under the leadership and guidance of a logistics platoon leader. By training multifunctional logistics, the LOG BOLC redesign better prepares logistics platoon leaders for the uncertainties of their first duty assignments and provides flexibility in talent management to unit commanders.
Multifunctional logistics platoon leaders allow commanders the talent management flexibility to respond effectively to logistical requirements needed within the operational environment. Previously, commanders struggled with branch-specific platoon leaders having insufficient knowledge and understanding of cross-functional responsibilities. As many as 27 percent of lieutenants have been initially assigned to duty positions other than their basic branches. Further, 53 percent of lieutenants served in positions outside of their basic branches before attending the Logistics Captains Career Course (LOG C3).
In May 2021, a Critical Task Site Selection Board (CTSSB) was conducted with leaders from within Forces Command, Combined Arms Support Command, Training and Doctrine Command, and ALU. The purpose of the CTSSB was to identify critical tasks for establishing logistics platoon leaders across all components who can make competent decisions in highly complex environments. As a result, logistics platoon leaders are trained to possess technical and tactical knowledge, characteristics, and abilities to achieve the commander’s desired end states.
Encompassing the results of the CTSSB, the holistic redesign shifted the legacy 16-week course format of functional areas separated by weeklong modules into six multifunctional integrated modules: Army Profession, Building Readiness, Mission Preparation, Large-Scale Combat Operations (LSCO) Foundation, Mission Execution, and Logistics Profession. LOG BOLC program of instruction (POI) still encompasses 48 percent of the previous quartermaster POI, 40 percent of the previous ordnance POI, and 41 percent of the previous transportation POI while adding 89 percent of multifunctional logistics tasks excluding initial military training (IMT) tasks. This holistic approach allowed revisions to the POI, training scenario, and Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) initiative, increasing training rigor for students.
Along with the course redesign, BOLD realigned personnel into three teams: training, advising, and counseling; instructor; and tactics. The realignment enables talent management by assigning the right instructor for the right subject, which promotes subject matter expertise in each module. The training, advising, and counseling team facilitates the H2F initiative and adopts a crawl-walk-run methodology to train students to complete an Army Combat Fitness Test, a 4-mile by 36-minute run, a 12-mile ruck march, and a total of 8.5 hours of resilience training before graduation. The tactics team is then enabled to focus on assessments of the troop-leading procedures, orders process, combat trains command post establishment and operations, and convoy leadership.
With looming near-peer threats, training objectives have shifted from counterinsurgency threats to LSCO and multidomain operations (MDO). The new scenario used throughout LOG BOLC is set in the Indo-Pacific Command operational environment with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division supporting South Torbian operations against North Torbian aggression. Students receive road to war briefs throughout the course, coinciding with the module covered, reflecting the crawl-walk-run concept for a distribution platoon leader assigned to a forward support company supporting a combined arms battalion. The progressive training strategy begins with training in a garrison environment, deploying to the operational environment, and conducting mission support to maneuver battalion operations. The scenario incorporates a combined arms maneuver framework to build an understanding of armored brigade combat team organizations, weapon systems, operations, and roles while focusing on platoon leader duties at the tactical level. In addition to preparing lieutenants for any logistics lieutenant duty assignment, LOG BOLC also prepares logistics platoon leaders for LOG C3.
LOG C3 supports Army modernization efforts by implementing a modernized POI. The updates include the addition of distance learning prerequisites comprised of: Army Profession, Mission Command, Operations, Operations Process, and Training. The resident course consists of: Adversary Tactics and Capabilities; Supply Chain Studies; Data Visualization; Company Grade Systems and Processes; Mission Command Fundamentals; Mission Command Systems and Platforms; Leader Development in Tactical Formations; Logistics Support in Army Special Operations Forces; Logistics Operations in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Environments; Logistics in LSCO/MDO; Unit Training Management; and Military Decision Making Process/Operations Process. The LOG BOLC redesign introduces concepts embedded into the LOG C3 POI.
Former President John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” The continuous change in how the Army fights in war — full spectrum operations to unified land operations to multidomain operations — requires constant review of force structure and modified tables of operational equipment. This may bring opposing opinions on what change leaders want to see in the Army. Specific to logistics, many believe a multifunctional LOG BOLC will lead to the degradation of heritage, traditions, and branch associations.
Quartermaster is the second oldest branch in the Army with 247 years of lineage, heraldries, and traditions that could be perceived to be lost with the removal of the branch specific office. However, the transition of basic branch officers to logistics officers does not result in the overall consolidation of the branches. The requirement for enlisted Soldier military occupational specialties and the warrant officer corps will still necessitate individual branches. The LOG BOLC course redesign also implements other long-standing Army traditions, such as socials and dinings-in, while maintaining regimental induction ceremonies.
Currently, classes are limited to a fixed number of courses in the Army Training Requirements and Resources System by branch to train a specific number of lieutenants per fiscal year: quartermaster — 14 courses, 673 lieutenants; ordnance — 18 courses, 597 lieutenants; and transportation — 12 courses, 543 lieutenants. Shifting to logistics courses would allow for more balanced class sizes and potentially more course dates throughout the fiscal year, enabling units and commissioning sources flexibility for assigning BOLC dates. Additionally, combined logistics BOLC courses would increase opportunities to specialty training and additional skill identifiers, such as explosive ordnance disposal and aerial delivery and materials, providing a larger talent pool to select from regardless of the students’ basic branches.
The LOG BOLC redesign encompasses POI, H2F, and instructor management in a holistic, data-driven strategy to produce multifunctional logistics lieutenants who are prepared for any assignment regardless of branch. Progressively training for LSCO and MDO environments utilizing the crawl-walk-run strategy comprised of each branch’s functional tasks, IMT tasks, and multifunctional tasks produces the holistic logistics lieutenant. Albert Einstein said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” The modern reality of LSCO and MDO environments demands multifunctional training over traditions.
Capt. Lakesa Cobb serves as an instructor/writer of the Basic Officer Leadership Department, Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Virginia. She previously served as the F, Forward Support Company in the 1-82nd Field Artillery Regiment. She commissioned through Officer Candidate School as an ordnance lieutenant. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from University of Phoenix and a master’s in business administration from Liberty University.
Capt. Erica Gaughan serves as an instructor/writer of the Basic Officer Leadership Department, Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Virginia. She previously served as the commander of the Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). She commissioned through ROTC as a Transportation Corps second lieutenant. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Mary Baldwin College.
Capt. Eric Schnell serves as an instructor/writer of the Basic Officer Leadership Department, Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Virginia. He previously served as the company commander of E Company, 1-43rd Air Defense Artillery Battalion. He was commissioned through Creighton University ROTC into the Transportation Corps. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in natural science education from Wayne State College and a Master of Arts degree in leadership from Bellevue University.
This article was published in the Winter 23 issue of Army Sustainment.