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Educating for novelty and mission command.

Throughout our long military history, the U.S. Army has expected Army logisticians and their organizations to routinely face novel situations in highly complex environments. Therefore, logistics education must begin with envisioning the eventuality of having to challenge our military logistics apprentices with scenarios involving zones of indeterminate practice and exercising methods of action learning on the journey to becoming a reflective practitioner--influencing how they "think in- and on- action" along the way.

Action learning is a collaborative approach to facing novel, problematic situations for which ambiguous and emergent tasks become the vehicle for learning. By emergent tasks, we mean trying to figure out what to do when everything that we do is tied to a complicated and interactive milieu of incongruous actors and activities based in a setting that is interdependent, dynamic, and where convergent and assimilative forms or knowledge are inadequate to frame what is happening or not happening. By action, we are not just concerned about behavior (the physical aspects of doing) but also finding new meanings during and after our acts. Hence, divergent and accommodative learning is acquired in the midst of collectively and critically reflecting "in-" action and "on-" action (the essence of professional practice). In short, education spurs the reflective military logistics practitioner to "learn to learn" more effectively in collaboration with others. Action learning, coupled with the ideal of reflective practice, is complementary to the central themes of both mission command and adaptive leadership. The need to exercise disciplined initiative and independent action drives an educational philosophy that helps professionalize logisticians to adapt effectively without reliable and detailed guidance from higher authority when faced with zones of indeterminate practice. To facilitate this overall intent of military logistics professional education, we propose the following conceptual framework. ...

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Publication:Army Sustainment
Date:May 1, 2013
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