As the Army transforms and modernizes, Army Logistics University (ALU) has kept pace through the development of rigorous, relevant, and valued-added training and education opportunities. These efforts include a revised Support Operations Course that captures key components of the sustainment warfighting function (WfF) in support of large-scale combat operations in multidomain operations.
Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, and FM 4-0, Sustainment Operations, necessitated Support Operations Course revisions to align with current doctrine. Although still delivered in a phased approach, an 80-hour Phase I asynchronous online prerequisite and an 80-hour Phase II synchronous instruction (either resident or mobile training team), the previous course was a direct learning model comprised predominantly of lecture style instruction, multiple choice, checks on learning, and initial and final multiple-choice exams.
In May 2021, in response to operational Army knowledge gaps and combat training center lessons learned, ALU updated the Support Operations Course to the current 120-hour phased hybrid model focused on the sustainment WfF through increased rigor. The new course curriculum emphasizes the adult learning model, leveraging the experiences students bring into the classroom. A completely redesigned asynchronous Phase I prerequisite interactive multimedia instruction (IMI) provides students a general understanding of the sustainment WfF fundamentals needed for successful Phase II synchronous instructional participation. Upon enrollment in a resident or mobile training team support operations course, students receive an assessment of their understanding of the fundamentals presented in the IMIs that require a passing grade for Phase II participation. Additionally, ALU incorporates sustainment planning and estimation tools to enhance student knowledge in developing realistic and relevant running estimates based on capabilities and requirements. Students undergo practical exercises and receive examinations on estimation tool use and running estimate calculations.
The first week of Phase II focuses on a brigade support battalion’s capability to support an armored brigade combat team, with week two elevating to the division sustainment brigade’s support of the divisional requirements and priorities. The revised course has also incorporated the military decision-making process with two iterations of mission analysis culminating in the execution of a sustainment rehearsal of concept drill. To ensure students develop a feasible and realistic concept of sustainment, students participate in course of action development, comparison, and decision briefs focusing on sustainment.
The course is open to more than just the logistics, ordnance, quartermaster, and transportation branches. It has seen a rise in enrollment of adjutant general and medical service corps student attendance. Although the largest element of the sustainment WfF, logistics comprises only part of the support and services that ensure freedom of action, extended operational reach, and prolonged warfighting endurance. Accordingly, the Support Operations Course incorporates human resource, financial management, and health service support elements to plan for casualties, evacuations, and replacements to draft holistic sustainment plans based on independent and interrelated sustainment principles.
Recent updates to FM 3-0, Army Techniques Publication 4-91, Division Sustainment Operations, and the impending updates of FM 4-0 require additional Support Operations Course revision to ensure its relevance. The course will emphasize division-level sustainment support during completion, crisis, and conflict, primarily focusing on the division sustainment brigade support operations section instead of the brigade support battalion. The course will also incorporate a robust portion of data analytics and predictive logistics, as Maj. Gen. Mark Simerly, commanding general of Combined Arms Support Command, stated, “The shift to division-centric operations is not revolutionary and does not change sustainment principles and concepts. But division-centric operations within a multidomain environment does create new problem sets for sustainers.” Thus, as these new and emerging problem sets arise, ALU will strive to prepare graduates of the Support Operations Course for the challenges of sustaining the warfighter in 2030 and beyond.
Maj. Jonathan J. Kalczynski currently serves as the Support Operations Course manager at Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Virginia. Previously, he served as a support operations officer, brigade S4, and battalion executive officer in the 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Niagara University and a Master of Business Administration from the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
Maj. Etta Wheeler is an instructor of the Support Operations Course within Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Virginia. Wheeler’s previous assignment was with the 21st Theater Sustainment Command as a G-3/5 Future Operations Planner in Kaiserslautern, Germany. She holds a bachelor in general studies (humanities) from Louisiana Tech University and a Master of Science in administration from Central Michigan University.
This article was published in the Winter 23 issue of Army Sustainment.