Career Field: Transportation, Supply & Logistics (Enlisted)
In the Military, supplies and equipment to support troops are shipped and exchanged regularly. Transportation, Supply and Logistics enlisted personnel facilitate such transfers through organizing loading schedules, fueling and driving delivery vehicles, assisting passenger travel and operating retail stores that sell needed goods. These service members make sure the right supplies are in the right place at the right time — no small feat in an organization the size of the Military.
- Useful Fields of Study
- Driver Education, Shop Mechanics, Algebra and General Mathematics
- Helpful Attributes
- Interest in working with machines and equipment, Following instructions well, Being comfortable reading maps, Enjoying physical work, Good attention to detail
In the Military, supplies and equipment to support troops are shipped and exchanged regularly. Transportation, Supply and Logistics enlisted personnel facilitate such transfers.
Possible Military Careers
Cargo Specialist, Company Convoy Commander, Logistics Specialist, Petroleum Supply Specialist, Preventative Maintenance Analyst, Sales Specialist, Stock Specialist, Storekeeper, Transportation Specialist, Vehicle Driver, Warehousing and Distribution Specialist
- Determine transportation and shipping routes
- Load supplies onto trucks, planes and railroad cars
- Check the volume and temperature of petroleum in tankers and barges
- Prepare charts and reports on maintenance activities
- Price retail sales items
- Drive vehicles over all types of roads
Job training consists of classroom instruction, including some further onsite training. Sample courses include:
- Techniques for Loading and Storing Cargo
- Testing Oils and Fuels
- Parts and Supply Inventory Control Procedures
- Analysis of Transportation Documents
- Basic Vehicle Maintenance
“A lot of the members of my family and church thought that I was going to be a leader of men. They’d always tell me that when I was young. So I kind of had my mind set up on the Military from a young age.”
Growing up in Grand Rapids, Mich., Steven Tener was always looking for a challenge. He pushed himself throughout high school playing football, and when it came to enlisting in the Military, his attitude was no different.
“I wanted to be challenged physically and mentally, so that’s why I chose the Marine Corps.”
Steven visited with a Marine Corps recruiter and, two weeks later, was on a plane to San Diego, Calif., for boot camp. During the 12-week training process, he was selected to be a squad leader and put in a position of leadership right away. Steven had selected a career in infantry, so upon graduating from boot camp, he headed to Camp Pendleton for two months to attend the School of Infantry. From there, he was stationed in Hawaii for three years and then Michigan. During that time, he also took part in several deployments.
“My first deployment was to Okinawa, Japan. It was a unit deployment program. We basically just did different training exercises and acted as a quick reaction force to anything that would’ve happened in the Southeast Pacific.”
Some of Steven’s other deployments include traveling to Korea, where he earned a Korean Defense Medal; to the Philippines, where he helped provide security from terrorists; and to Iraq, where he served as a combat replacement in the re-attack on Fallujah — otherwise known as Operation Phantom Fury. But Steven’s experiences with the Military weren’t always about combat.
I pride myself on being dedicated to the Military and serving others.
“When stateside in Michigan, I was training reserves. I was also able to volunteer for four years coaching youth football and baseball in the community, as well as mentoring juvenile delinquents — kids in the system. That’s how I earned my Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal … through the volunteer work I did with the community.”
Today, Steven is serving as a company convoy commander in Afghanistan. In charge of a mobile unit that maneuvers throughout areas of operation, he juggles a variety of responsibilities: clearing roads to make sure they’re safe for local and military travel, moving equipment or personnel from one location to another, escorting emergency ordinance operations and monitoring enemy movement. He is in charge of four Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, approximately 15 Marines and four heavy machine guns. Though Steven and his men are armed for combat, they haven’t seen much thus far but feel prepared for it if and when they do.
“I definitely feel completely trained. We usually do about six or seven months of training before each deployment. They call it a work-up. You do all kinds of different training to prepare you for what you’re going to see once you get in a country, and I feel my guys and I are ready.”
Steven also credits his experience in feeling prepared. He’s coming up on his ninth year serving in the Marine Corps. He hopes to get promoted to staff sergeant this year so he can try his hand at leading a platoon, but regardless, he plans on making the Military a career.
“I just think that the time I’ve spent in the Military has been invaluable to me, in building my characteristics, building my moral fibers and becoming an adult.”
At 29 years old, after already traveling the globe, leading men in combat and mentoring underprivileged children, Steven Tener is certainly wise beyond his years. And luckily for the Marine Corps and citizens he currently protects, Steven is just getting started.
“My main goal right now is to do a full 20 years of service for the Marine Corps. I pride myself on being dedicated to the Military and serving others.”
Rodney Denson had planned to join the Marine Corps. He enlisted straight out of high school and shipped immediately to Basic Training. But when a minor knee injury sidelined him, he had to leave the Service and spend a year recovering. After he bounced back, he was quick to enlist again — this time, in the Navy.
Rodney went in undesignated, which means he had not yet been assigned a career. He did everything from night watches to miscellaneous repairs as he learned more about Navy life and available jobs. Ultimately, he began on-the-job training as a storekeeper — a role that goes well beyond cashiering.
“You provide technical assistance, you do inventory, you do a lot of financials to make sure you balanced the ship’s budget after our reports… basically you provide all supply functions to the ship.”
At the heart of the supply department, storekeepers order, stock and issue every piece of gear a Sailor uses, ensuring the crew has the supplies they need before a ship leaves port and while it is underway. Rodney began working in a warehouse but soon found himself on the USS Shasta, where he was stationed for the next two years. Then, at his commanding officer’s order, he spent six months aboard the USS Sacramento on temporary duty. It was hard work jumping into a new role, but during the deployment, Rodney achieved a big milestone: He crossed the equator for the first time.
“When your ship crosses the equator [or] international date line, you have to go through a huge initiation. It is part of the Navy tradition… in the beginning, you are a ‘pollywog.’ That’s your name. And the ‘shellbacks’ have to initiate you.”
You provide all supply functions to the ship.
Becoming one of the “shellbacks” wasn’t the only promotion Rodney received around this time. He earned his third-class rank and, with it, new responsibilities. Over the next few years he was deployed, twice, on the USSShasta and USS Shreveport. Then he did a tour at the Harbor Operations Department in Mayport, Fla.
“Normally, you have… seven to 10 storekeepers [on a ship]. But in this command it was independent duty… I made sure that all the crafts had fuel, and then I did one big huge plant and property inventory every year.”
Comfortable in his role and eager to advance to the next rank, Rodney decided to give himself a competitive advantage. On the advice of one of his chiefs, he began training as a craft master, learning to operate the various vessels that came into his port. His new qualification soon came in handy.
“All the ships that came up and down the East Coast had to do anti-terrorism training [in Maple, Fla.] ... my team simulated like we were terrorists and we were warding off attacks by small boats. And we had to do extensive training daily on that to make sure that we gave the ships the best simulation possible.”
With his new skills, Rodney didn’t stay in one place for long. He was sent for a six-month deployment in Stuttgart, Germany, filling in for a fellow storekeeper. He had barely returned home when his commanding officer deployed him again — this time to Afghanistan. This pattern continued for a few years, as Rodney alternated between domestic assignments and overseas deployments, traveling to Bahrain and then throughout South America as part of a Special Operations team.
“My role again was logistics. I had to make sure that all the cell phone contracts were paid, the housing contracts were paid, the transportation contracts were paid. Everything that you could think [of] for covert operations that needs to be paid through supply, I did it.”
Rodney again embraced the experience and tried to learn everything he could. Daily Spanish lessons improved his ability to communicate with local suppliers. After 16 months he was ready to come home and receive his next assignment. But shortly after returning to Miami, Rodney was injured in a serious car accident, again changing his fate. No longer able to work with Special Operations, he found himself in a Navy Expeditionary Logistic Support Unit, outfitting other deploying servicemembers.
“Seventeen people work for me. I pretty much know which commands are coming that need to be trained or what we are actually doing to support the mission forward… there are so many different type of roles here that you have to do.”
Rodney isn’t ready to sit still yet, however. He recently volunteered to deploy on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and hopes to make chief before retiring after 20 years of service.
“It has been almost 17 years now, and beautiful things come to an end. So I just want to ride it in style, and they used to call the [USS] Enterprise the ‘carrier with class.’ So I just want to go out on a carrier with class.”
With a career as full as Rodney’s, it is hard to imagine him doing it any other way.
When I first was thinking about enlisting, I was definitely going through the teenage years, not really knowing what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something business-related, but at the same time I wasn’t too keen on going directly to college. I wasn’t really mature enough to go to college at the time. So I looked at the Military and said, “OK, this is a different way of doing things.”
I joined the Navy and went to Basic Training the following November. They had a storekeeper rating available, so after Boot Camp I went to school in Meridian, Miss. They gave you a general overall overview of logistics, accounting and other business-related fields.
One of the greatest things about being in the Military is that you can have a job, like being a logistics specialist, and you can do inventory for a year. You can go off and do accounting. You can be a purchasing manager. It really gives you a broad spectrum of opportunity within one job.
It really gives you a broad
spectrum of opportunity.
On a typical day, I obligate money to different accounts, contact vendors, set up contracts. We manage aviation parts for all the different commands within the flight line, the helicopters and the planes. We also manage official travel and then anything needed to run regular facility services.
We normally have about 20 commands we support directly, and then we do an assessment prior to the start of the fiscal year and ask them what their requirements are. The easiest way to do it is look at the prior history, and when they give us their projections, we will go back and say, “Oh, well, last fiscal year you spent this amount of money.” And then we’ll look at what they’re giving us. We’re using taxpayer dollars, so we’re trying to be cost-efficient and effective with the money.
As my boss always told me, “You can’t be a yes man; you have to tell a guy that’s five pay grades higher than you, ‘No, you can’t get it, sir.’ ” And you have to be able to say that. You have to be smooth and do it clearly and concisely, not making them mad but giving them accurate information. And what I’ve learned is that even if these people really want supplies that are not authorized, they’ll actually respect you in the long run.
When you have a breakthrough moment that takes you to the limit professionally and you succeed, you are so proud of yourself. These experiences make you love what you do for your command, the Military and for your country. And, ultimately, I think if I transitioned out of the Military, I’d probably want to work for a company that had maybe a government contract or had some kind of ties to the Military, so I’d feel like I can continue doing my part.
Possible Military Careers
- Cargo Specialist
- Company Convoy Commander - View Profile
- Logistics Specialist - View Profile
- Petroleum Supply Specialist
- Preventative Maintenance Analyst
- Sales Specialist
- Stock Specialist - View Video
- Storekeeper - View Profile
- Transportation Specialist
- Vehicle Driver
- Warehousing and Distribution Specialist
Possible Civilian Careers
- Industrial Truck Operator
- Sales Clerk
- Truck Driver
- Travel Agent
Enlisted Career Resources
What you need to know about enlisting in the Military.
Get a free DVD and magazine, plus additional information from each Service, sent to your home.
View answers to commonly asked questions about the Military.
The Next Step: Living
It's not all about work in the Military. Learn about the benefits service members receive and what they do when off duty.