FORT BLISS, Texas – “What’s important to me from a field grade in my formation is: one, you’ve got to be an expert at your job; two, as a field grade, when given a task, even if it’s outside your expertise, you must contribute; lastly, field grade officers solve problems for the commander,” Col. Marc Cloutier, commander 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Bulldog”, 1st Armored Division.
Leaders from the brigade S4 (Logistics Operations Section) from 3rd ABCT, 1st AD, conducted a two-part, distributed-Logistics Forum with students taking a logistics operations elective at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, April 16 and April 23, to provide the cohort with feedback from peers conducting sustainment operations in a tactical-level organization.
“One of the opportunities I wish I had, while I was at the school house (CGSC), was to engage someone who was actually in the field, and ask them – ‘Did they (CGSC) prepare us well?’ the school (CGSC) just doesn’t have the ability to replicate that,” said Maj. Ryan Molina, native of Ashburn, Virginia, Brigade S4, for 3rd ABCT, 1st AD. Having the opportunity to ask the question – ‘What are you seeing at the tactical level?’ from somebody that’s about to go into that seat – that was our intention for the forum.”
The two-part logistics forum provided majors enrolled in the Logistics Operations Planner Course elective at CGSC the opportunity to hear firsthand from sustainment professionals in an armored brigade combat team.
Topics discussed during the forum included: Brigade Sustainment Operations Overview, Finance and Budget Management, Transportation and Mobility Considerations, Food Services Planning and Execution, Property Book Office Procedures; as well as Expectations and Feedback from the Bulldog Brigade Commander, Command Sgt. Maj., and Executive Officer.
Sgt. 1st Class Alexander Daniels, native of Washington D.C., non-commissioned officer in charge of sustainment operations for 3rd ABCT, 1st AD, discusses the mentality incoming brigade logistics officers should have as they take charge of sustainment operations for a tactical-level organization.
“The mentality they (Logistics Officers) have to have is to be open minded to who they’re going to be dealing with,” said Daniels. “Of course, they have to come in running and get their feet wet, but they have to know who’s on their team, who’s dependable, who’s not, and who can make something happen. The Brigade S4 Officer is in charge of everything that happens in the section. The PBO (Property Book Officer) is in charge of the (unit) property book, change command inventories, ordering and fielding, lateral transfers, equipment turn-in directives. The Mobility Officer deals with the movement of everything. They have to deal with the unit going from here to another training area just to support, and manage how the unit gets government contracted vehicles.”
There is a significant learning curve for junior field-grade officers as they transition from the year-long CGSC program to serving in a key-
developmental assignment on a higher-headquarters staff to assume responsibility of sustainment operations in a high-tempo organization managing millions of dollars and thousands of personnel as a logistics officer.
“I’ve never been assigned to a BCT (Brigade Combat Team), light or heavy, so the electives here at CGSC (Command and General Staff College) really give me an opportunity to institutionally learn what I haven’t learned through personal experience,” said Maj. Ashian Azadi, native of Los Angeles, student at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
Azadi participated in the two-part Logistics Forum, facilitated by Bulldog Brigade, via the Army University Blackboard virtual platform.
“There was a lot of value and a lot of things that I liked about the two sessions,” said Azadi. “I’ll tell you that at first, I thought it was going to maybe a few field grade officers from the Brigade BSB (Brigade Support Battalion) and SPO (Support Operations Officer) section. It seemed like most of the brigade participated, to include the brigade XO (Executive Officer) and the commander, Bulldog 6. That was impressive – they valued our time, our education, and this opportunity so much that they wanted to participate. There were so many participants willing to share information or answer our questions; and it helps to understand the layers of what’s important to whom, and how everybody has to work together to accomplish that same mission.”
Molina and his team generated a presentation for the cohort at CGSC, and worked through the challenges of adhering to social-distancing guidelines necessary during the logistics-forum event.
“The systems (command and control) we had in place required a lot of face to face meetings and engagements, so it very much shaped our thought process on not only decide what kind of systems we would use, whether it be CVR (Commercial, Virtual, Remote), whether it be DCS (Defense Connect System), or reaching out to the school house using blackboard,” said Molina.
The best practices gained while taking the initiative to ensure all subject-matter experts were able to field the questions from the virtual audience, of whom are preparing to meet the expectations of their gaining-unit leaders and Soldiers, served as a proof of principle as to how operations may continue even after we move beyond the constrained COVID-19 conditions.
“Even after COVID-19 allows us to go back to a more steady state operations, I think we’re going to use a lot of the systems we’ve established during this timeframe,” said Molina.