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Development of a master's degree in Operational Logistics for logistics officers. (Inside Logistics).

Wouldn't it be great if logistics officers could work toward and receive a Master of Science in Operational Logistics while qualifying in their career field?

The Chief's Logistics Review is bringing major changes to the Air Force. Many questions are brought to mind, especially when considering the new logistics readiness squadron and the logistics readiness officer. Are we creating generalists versus specialists? Is this the right approach? Is logistics readiness too much to get your arms around? Are the new training requirements too broad or demanding? What future repercussions are Out there that we can address now? Let's examine the facts as well as the possibilities.

As everyone knows, the squadron structure has changed significantly. Transportation and supply squadrons are a thing of the past; they are being combined with the logistics plans function to form the new logistics readiness squadron. For the most part, traffic management, vehicle management, and fuels flights (and Air Mobility Command aerial port squadrons) will remain somewhat intact, while other functional processes will merge into distribution, readiness, and management and systems flights. (1) Former logistics plans, transportation, and supply officers will find themselves in dire need of education and training. How will the Air Force address this need? The Air Force vision for fully qualified logistics readiness officers will be achieved through training and experience to develop officers in three core competencies.

New accessions (second lieutenants) will start with a 6-week local orientation. This will be a commander's program focusing on key processes in preparation for technical training. They will then attend an 18-week course, which will cover fuels, logistics plans, transportation, and supply. Graduates will return to their units, where they will begin on-the-job training (OJT) as they are assigned to work in one of the squadron's six flights. As they complete specified OJT tasks, their commander will certify them in each appropriate special-experience identifier. Six special-experience identifiers roll up into the three core competencies. An officer will be qualified in each core competency by completing one special-experience identifier applicable to that area. (2) In addition to earning the special-experience identifiers, logistics readiness officers must spend a minimum of 12 months in each core competency to be qualified. Full qualification should be achieved for most officers by the 6-year point, at which ti me the logistics readiness officer will receive the 21R3 Air Force specialty code (AFSC). (3)

Company grade officers who already have attended a pipeline technical training course are referred to as roundout officers. Roundout officers will be awarded the 21R3 AFSC temporarily. However, they must complete exportable minicourses (fuels, logistics plans, transportation, and supply) for courses they have not yet attended. In addition, they must gain experience in one additional competency within 3 years. (4)

Both new accessions and roundout officers will be considered to be in upgrade status and will follow gate system requirements. Field graders are grandfathered but highly encouraged to complete exportable minicourses. Professional continuing education will be available via the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) for all levels.5

Okay, that all sounds good. Problems will come up, but we can work through them. What about master's degrees?

The master's degree is not mandatory, but any officer career path you look at shows completion of a master's degree by the 10-year point or at least prior to the major's board. Let's face facts; it's a way to differentiate between individuals, all other things being equal.

What avenues are currently available to complete a master's degree?

AFIT is a well-known avenue for loggies to accomplish this objective. AFIT offers a Master of Science in Logistics Management at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. This 18-month program is the Air Force master's degree for logistics. The degree is further specialized in acquisition logistics, logistics management, supply management, and transportation management. (6) Through AFIT, the Air Mobility Warfare Center, adjacent to McGuire AFB, New Jersey, offers a Master of Science in Air Mobility. It is a 13-month program that offers many courses similar to those offered by AFIT's Logistics Management program. (7) Graduates of AFIT master's programs go on to designated advanced academic degree positions and, consequently, do great things for the Air Force. These degree programs are obviously outstanding but offer opportunity to complete a master's degree to only a small percentage of the total population of Air Force loggies.

The majority of Air Force officers complete their master's degrees through a variety of off-duty programs. These programs are run either by local colleges or by colleges catering specifically to the military or professional people, with satellite programs at numerous locations. Unlike attendance at AFIT as a full-time student, off-duty education requires all class attendance, studies, papers, and the like to be completed on personal time. A sharp, young officer might spend 10 to 12 hours in the squadron and then press on to class or home to study or work on a paper. It is already difficult to achieve balance between duty and family, and a degree program only makes the situation more complicated.

So what is the issue? Increased time, training, and focus required to qualify as a logistics readiness officer will reduce the time available and focus possible to complete an off-duty master's degree by the 10-year point or prior to meeting the major's board. Things are already tough, and now they are going to get tougher. If this sounds like whining, let's take a look at the aircraft and munitions maintenance crowd. Young officers are looking at 10-, 12-, or 14-hour days; nights; weekends; and holidays. Contracting--again, long hours. Who's got time for a master's degree? What's the most expedient avenue to get one?

Wouldn't it be great if logistics officers could work toward a Master of Science in Operational Logistics while qualifying in their career field? What if this master's degree awarded them credit hours for Air Force formal training? So they are actually working toward their master's simply by qualifying in their career field. In an educational sense, a Master of Science in Operational Logistics would tie together the multiple disciplines of the logistics readiness officer. It would also cover maintenance and production management for aircraft and munitions maintenance officers, as well as acquisition logistics for the contracting officers.

This is not rocket science. It's a win-win for everybody. So what's the best approach? What are the alternatives?

Course of Action 1

Partner with AFIT, to offer an accredited nontechnical or semitechnical master's program focusing on operational logistics and geared toward off-duty students. This program should not be on the same level of difficulty as an in-residence ART master's degree or intended to fulfill advanced academic degree requirements. It must have distance-learning (either online or via correspondence) capability to allow loggies at any location to complete the course work. Papers could be mailed to AFIT for grading. Testing would need to take place through the base education office.

Key. Logistics officers must receive credit hours for formal training and certifications.

Advantages.

* Lends itself toward central management by the Air Force.

* AFIT already has logistics-focused courses to draw from.

Course of Action 2

Partner with civilian colleges that have specialized master's programs in logistics to offer a program tailored for off-duty military students. Again, the program for the Air Force should be nontechnical or semitechnical with a focus on operational logistics, and courses must be available either online or via correspondence. Papers could be mailed to the college for grading, and testing could take place through the base education office.

Key. Logistics officers must receive credit hours for formal training and certifications.

Advantages.

* These colleges already have logistics-focused courses to draw from.

* The degree would be from a regionally accredited college.

Course of Action 3

Partner with civilian colleges that have numerous extended-campus programs at military bases. Request development of a nontechnical or semitechnical master's program focusing on operational logistics. Students would be able to attend classes at worldwide satellite locations. Distance learning must also be available for individuals in unserviced locations. Papers could be handled by the local instructor or mailed to the college for individuals at unserviced locations. Testing could take place through the base education office.

Key. Logistics officers must receive credit hours for formal training and certifications.

Advantages.

* The degree would be from a regionally accredited college.

* These colleges are already operating in numerous worldwide locations.

Key Elements

* Logistics officers must receive credit hours for formal training and certifications.

* Capability to continue course work at any location

Why a master's degree focusing on operational logistics?

* Operational logistics is very relevant to the daily work of logistics officers.

* The program would build an increased sense of professionalism into the logistics officer corps.

* It would improve the ability to master multiple aspects of the logistics business.

Is there a demand? Just walk around and ask the opinion of young logistics officers, and you will have your answer. Look outside logistics; rated officers might desire to take part in this type program. One could push this theoretical argument even further. Look outside the Air Force; Army, Navy, and Marine Corps logisticians would probably find value in these same master's programs. With that kind of mass appeal, a really solid program could be built to suit a variety of backgrounds.

Things can stay as they are, and the best will still survive--even excel. It is possible for any logistics officer to complete a master's degree. However, with a little more planning, we could really help the individuals our country will depend on to lead tomorrow's Air Force.

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[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

Notes

(1.) Lt Col Linda Dahl, Air Force Logistics Readiness briefing, WWTC 2002 Conference Briefings, Directorate of Transportation [Online] Available: http://www.i1.hq.af.mil/ilt/wwtc/briefings.html.

(2.) Lt Col Connie Rother, Logistics Readiness Officer briefing, WWTC 2002 Conference Briefings, Directorate of Transportation [Online] Available: http://www.il.hq.af.mil/ilt/wwtc/briefings.html.

(3.) E-mail between author and Lt Col Connie Rother, 28 Jun 02.

(4.) Rother.

(5.) Ibid.

(6.) Catalog of Graduate School of Engineering and Management, Academic Year 2001-2002, Air Force Institute of Technology [Online] Available: http://rr.afit.edu/catalog/AFITCatalog200l.pdf, 111-113.

(7.) Ibid.

Colonel Boyette is the chief Transportation Division, Air Force Logistics Management Agency, Maxwell AFB, Gunter Annex, Alabama.
COPYRIGHT 2002 U.S. Air Force, Logistics Management Agency
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Boyette, Marcus
Publication:Air Force Journal of Logistics
Date:Jun 22, 2002
Words:1707
Previous Article:Readiness: a commander's responsibility. (Research Focus).
Next Article:Is agile logistics focused logistics in hiding? (Inside Logistics).


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