January 10, 2008
By Peter Bacque, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
FORT LEE -- Col. Jeffery Allen was thinking ahead.
Even before Maj. Gen. Mitchell H. Stevenson gave the order, Allen loosened the shiny Quartermaster Corps emblems on his lapels, ready to pin on a new insignia and think a new way.
Yesterday, Allen and about 100 other Army officers pinned on the emblem of the service's newest branch: Logistics, symbolically uniting historically separate Quartermaster, Ordnance and Transportation soldiers.
And for an Army at war, the change is shaping the service's logistics organization to match the way the Army fights.
"In the 21st century," Stevenson said in his remarks to about 170 soldiers and civilians, "what we need are logistics officers who are multifunctional.
"No longer is it adequate or in the best interests of the Army for logistics officers to be skilled or focused in only one area," said Stevenson, commanding general for both the service's Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee.
Logistics is supplying, maintaining and moving military forces, and Fort Lee -- home of the Army's traditionally supply-oriented Quartermaster Corps -- is becoming home for the Army's logistics efforts.
One military maxim says that amateurs talk about strategy while professionals talk about logistics.
While the Quartermaster Corps is the Army's oldest branch, Stevenson said after the ceremony, "The old way doesn't make any sense any more."
"Today and into the foreseeable future," he said, "logistics officers must be able to operate effectively amidst uncertainty and unpredictability in the full spectrum of operations."
The Army's Transportation and Ordnance schools are moving to Fort Lee as part of the nation's base realignments.
By 2013, Fort Lee's military and civilian population will grow by about 60 percent and its economic impact will almost double to about $1.4 billion, according to Fort Lee officials.
Yesterday's Logistics Branch inauguration will directly affect about 10,000 Army officers from captain to colonel in rank, Stevenson said.
More than 270,000 soldiers -- about one-third of the Army -- serve in logistics specialties.
Meanwhile, the Army's traditional Quartermaster, Transportation and Ordnance organizations will not disappear, Stevenson said.
"We will preserve the unique heritage of each," he said. "The career fields will still exist for our enlisted soldiers and warrant officers."