Fleet Adm. Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations during World War II once said "I don't know what that logistics is, but I want some of it." In the Army, logistics includes meeting our Soldiers needs by providing them with supplies, equipment, and maintenance. Today, the world of logistics remains ever important.

Five local high school students became the first graduates of the Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center Logistics Academy. The Logistics Academy partners with Eastern Iowa Community College, Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley High Schools in Bettendorf, Iowa, and Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center to provide students a unique learning opportunity.

The program graduates learned about inventory management, transportation, distribution, warehousing, and regulatory and compliance for the Army. Their classes were held at Scott Community College during the first eight weeks, and RIA-JMTC during the second half of the course.

"Students were able to interact with our logistics capabilities and get hands-on knowledge and experience that isn't afforded to most high school seniors trying to decide a field of study," said Nicholas Wagner, RIA-JMTC training coordinator. "They also had the opportunity to see how we (RIA-JMTC) support our Armed Forces, and the pride employees pour into their work every day."

"This is a great way to expose our future leaders to a background in Supply Chain Management," said Tim Cottle, a program coordinator from Eastern Iowa Community College. "It's a new and emerging field that I believe will offer great opportunities for those who choose to pursue a career in this area."

Equipped with steel toe boots and safety goggles, the students were guided through the factory exploring a wide range of logistics missions over seven weeks.

"We wanted to make sure that we gave them a flavor for all the logistics missions we have at RIA-JMTC," Wagner said. "People sometimes think that logistics means driving a fork truck, but it's much more than that."

RIA-JMTC commander, Col. Craig S. Cotter, personally shared some advice for the students who were getting ready to venture off to college next year.

"Don't let anyone tell you what you can't do with regards to your future," Cotter said. "Education will give you a foot in the door to whatever you want to do in life."

The students seemed to understand the value of the program, and the direction it can provide for their futures.

"The academy opened doors to show me what I may like to do as a career," said Cameron Lovich, a senior from Pleasant Valley High School. "The Arsenal people were very thorough in demonstrating how things are done. I'm considering a career in logistics."

Students received both high school and college credit for participating in the academy. This year marks the program's first year in place.