The multifunctional logistician

By Command Sgt. Maj. Oscar LlamasApril 5, 2024

For many years Army senior leaders discussed the need for multifunctional logistics noncommissioned officers. In 2008, Command Sgt. Maj. Dan Elder, wrote a publication where he discussed the need for multifunctional logistician NCOs. While the topic was not yet decided then, the concept of multifunctional logistics NCOs was established, there's a growing belief, as expressed by Elder, the former senior enlisted logistician of the Army. Traditionally, there has been resistance to the idea, with some arguing for specialized NCOs. However, with the evolution of Army logistics, especially in formations like the brigade combat team, which now operates with multifunctional support battalions, there's a growing recognition of the need for multifunctional skills.

Currently, enlisted leaders for these roles are drawn from specific career fields, but there's a call for more multifunctional expertise, particularly in key positions such as support operations sergeant and battalion sergeant major. The establishment of the Logistics University and supercenter at Fort Gregg-Adams, Virginia is seen as a positive step in developing and enabling multifunctional NCOs.

The Army aims to develop its NCO corps, warrant officer corps, and officer corps more jointly and across branches for better cohesion. However, there's a gap in specialized training for logistics NCOs, as the current courses, like the Battle Staff NCO Course, focus more on general staff duties rather than logistics-specific skills. There's a suggestion to enhance training to include proficiency in logistics systems and reports, which are crucial for effective logistical operations. Overall, there's a push for a more multifunctional enlisted force to meet the demands of modern logistics effectively.

Most agree that much of what a sustainment noncommissioned officer does is accomplished through the lens of a multifunctional logistician. What is a multifunctional logistician? A multifunctional logistician is an NCO with broad knowledge and experience who is qualified to fulfill several functions or roles within the sustainment warfighting functions. This definition was determined and established early in 2023 by nominative command sergeants major and sergeants major across the Army.

The NCO Corps currently has NCOs assigned to multifunctional positions, performing multifunctional tasks in multifunctional organizations. What we did not have, until now, was a codified process to bridge education and experience. The educational aspect is delivered through Sustainment Common Core received by all logistics NCOs, who attend professional military education at the Logistics Noncommissioned Officer Academy on Fort Gregg-Adams, Virginia. We receive education through SCC, but we needed to identify the experience to codify what constitutes a multifunctional logistician.

In May 2022, a directive was issued to incorporate SCC within the Senior Leaders Courses for our logistic NCOs attending PME at the LNCOA. The course’s intent is to offer senior NCOs attending their respective SLC with 58 hours dedicated to logistics common core.

Since the educational aspect was established, we needed to codify the experience. This is where we focused our efforts at Army Sustainment University. SCC is the foundation of our multifunctional NCOs. The required education exists and is currently delivered to our logistics senior NCOs at the LNCOA. Through the right education, SCC, and identification of accurate experience, we are able to identify and certify our senior logistics NCOs within the sustainment enterprise as multifunctional logisticians.

The implementation of the Personnel Development Skill Identifier of the multifunctional logistician encourages leaders within the sustainment enterprise to seek to become multi-skilled. The PDSI would also identify trained and experienced senior logistics NCOs for multifunctional positions in multifunctional organizations. In doing so, this would provide a baseline understanding of mission planning within each sustainment warfighting function. With the implementation of the PDSI, positions would then be coded as multifunctional logistician positions, placing the right person in the right position, at the right time.

A trained, educated, and certified multifunctional NCO provides organizations with a more confident and knowledgeable logistics NCO. Establishing the multifunctional NCO PDSI allows for a formal program of self-guided professional development. The end state would be to prepare senior NCOs to serve in multifunctional positions throughout the sustainment enterprise. Doing so will develop our Senior NCOs within the sustainment enterprise in obtaining the ability to perform duties in a myriad of multifunctional roles and responsibilities in support of large-scale combat operations and multi-domain operations.

In December 2023, the Logistics Proponent office within the Army Sustainment University submitted a PDSI requesting the establishment of the multifunctional logistician NCO. Senior NCOs were to be graduates of their respective SLC within the SCC, 12-24 months successfully performing duties in a leadership role, graduate of the Support Operations Course - Phase I, successfully served in, but not limited to, Support Operations Course commodity manager, S3/Operations NCOIC, G4/S4 minimum of 12 months (validated through NCO evaluation reports (NCOERs)), Associates Degree/60 accredited college hours, one credentialing certificate via Army Ignited, and one completed functional course at Army Sustainment University. The request for the multifunctional NCO was actioned by the Headquarters, Department of the Army G1 and approved and released February 1.

With the approval of the PDSI earlier this year, LOGPRO will determine whether the boards meet quarterly or monthly once PDSI packets are submitted.

We currently have logistics NCOs assigned to multifunctional positions, in multifunctional organizations performing multifunctional tasks. A senior multifunctional NCO possesses broad knowledge and experience and is qualified to fulfill several functions or roles within the sustainment warfighting function. The education portion of being an multifunctional NCO is delivered through SCC presented to senior leaders who attend their respective SLC at the LNCOA. However, we did not have the codified process to certify our multifunctional logistics NCO; this is where we focused our efforts on codifying the process. The implementation of the multifunctional NCO PDSI will allow our NCO Corps to identify and certify our logistical senior NCOs in performing multifunctional duties in multifunctional organizations, becoming a multifunctional logistician.

The Army leader development model is woven into the fabric of the multifunctional logistician. The institutional domain is seen through the educational aspect of the SCC received by senior leaders attending their respective SLC at the LNCOA. The operational domain is seen in the myriad of multifunctional positions senior NCOs currently serve throughout multifunctional organizations. The self-development domain is grafted into a multifunctional logistician through various functional courses, civilian education, and a myriad of certifications and credentialing. The multifunctional logistician models the leader development model in that leader identification and certification is a deliberate, continuous, sequential, and progressive process grounded in the Army values and the Army’s four major priorities.

The implementation of the multifunctional logistician meets the intent of the four major priorities of the Army’s Chief of Staff. Identifying and certifying multifunctional logistical senior NCOs to meet the demands of the sustainment enterprise allows for continuous transformation through the delivery of ready combat formations while strengthening the profession of arms. We are a transformational Army winning the challenges of an increasingly complex world.