Career Field: Transportation, Supply & Logistics (Officer)
In order for the Military to operate successfully, the proper materials, equipment and people need to be in the right place at the right time. Transportation, Supply and Logistics officers make sure that necessary supplies, personnel and services are available on base and abroad according to military plans. Strong organizational skills are essential in this field, as is strict attention to detail.
- Useful Fields of Study
- Logistics, Statistics, Business and Management
- Helpful Attributes
- Skill at delegating work, Attention to detail, Working well under tight schedules
Transportation, Supply and Logistics officers make sure that necessary supplies, personnel and services are available on base and abroad according to military plans.
Possible Military Careers
Logistician, Store Manager, Supply and Warehousing Manager, Transportation Manager, Transportation Maintenance Manager, Comptroller, Supply and Logistics Officer, Supply Officer
- Negotiate and buy goods and services
- Predict and solve logistical problems
- Supervise the inspection, care and testing of products
- Analyze the demand for supplies and forecast future needs
- Evaluate bids and proposals submitted by potential suppliers
- Set work schedules for repair shop staff
- Direct the packing and crating of cargo
Job training consists of classroom instruction. Sample courses include:
- Resource Allocation
- Accounting and Record Keeping
- Budget Management
- Handling and Packaging Procedures
- Freight Classifications
Most people join the Military young and then have a civilian career later. I think that’s the difference with me — this is my second career. I finished my first career with a large shipping company. I’d been there almost 10 years and had worked with a variety of logistics providers, so I moved over into the Supply Corps world here in the Navy.
I’m what they call a direct commission officer. They look for folks who already have a master’s degree and who have some experience in the civilian world that the Navy can rely on. I started out as a Reserve supply officer and then recently went to Active Duty. I think it’s been a really good thing because I’m able to leverage the civilian experience that I’ve had in my military position.
When we come into the supply program, we all go through the Basic Supply Course School, which is in Athens, Ga. Reservists take the program through correspondence, with visits down to Athens to take tests. I consider the workload equivalent to getting an MBA online or taking courses at night. It is kind of a challenge, but it really gets you up-to-speed.
Right now, I’m a supply officer at a mixed Reserve and Active Duty command of about 3,000 people. I manage the financials and the warehousing operation. All our supplies — all the things our folks need to work in the field — are issued from my warehouse here in Williamsburg, Va. On top of that, I manage our budget. We’re about a $15 million command, and I make sure our money is properly spent and accounted for.
I enjoy going to work every single day.
I have seven people in my financial shop and 25 in the warehouse, plus an additional 10 contractors who work for our uniform provider. So there are about 40 people working for me, which is a good-sized department and bigger than what I had in the civilian world.
We do a lot of equipment management for the supplies that our folks need when they deploy. The Haiti earthquake was right up our alley. Food and relief supplies — it all has to come off an airplane or a ship. We've also been involved with the mobilized reservists. We outfitted them with all the gear that they needed, and we got them on airplanes and flew them down there. A lot of different people are involved in the chain, and it’s a big logistics coordination effort to get it all done.
My next job will be at a Construction Battalion (CB, also known as the “Seabees”). I’ll be the lone supply officer, so I’ll have lots of responsibility. That group deploys all around the world for different missions, and I’ll be going with them.
The real difference between the civilian management style and the military management style is that, on the military side, we manage the whole person. You’re on duty 24/7, and as managers, we’re concerned about your life 24/7. It’s just a different mindset. It also means that we take care of our Sailors a lot more than a boss would in the civilian world.
When you’re in the Military, there’s lots of support from the community at large and from within the Military itself. You really feel that your decisions and what you do make a large difference on a day-to-day basis. It is something that people can be proud of, and I enjoy going to work every single day.
“My father was a career Navy officer, so I knew what military service was like. And the Army ROTC program seemed like a great way to enter the Service as an officer.”
The son of an officer, Joseph traveled from place to place as a young boy, but considers Florida his home, as that is where he lived when he graduated from high school. As a student at Central Florida University, a friend and recruiter told him about the Army ROTC, which he chose over his father’s Service branch of the Navy.
Still, choosing a military career made his parents very happy.
“My dad is extremely proud that I was following in his footsteps.”
His friends thought he was crazy at the time, but Joseph wanted more out of college. He wanted to feel part of something bigger. As for the ROTC experience, he admits that it was physically challenging.
“A typical day for us was coming together very early in the morning hours and doing some sort of physical fitness training together.”
The rest of the time, he was pretty much like any other college student, though at least one day a week he wore a uniform. The more concentrated military training took place in the summer. For six weeks each summer, Joseph underwent the Army’s precommissioning training, which is similar to Basic Training for officer candidates.
“[ROTC] is kind of like Basic Training stretched out over three or four years. So it’s a little bit at a time rather than something strenuous and stressful [packed into a short period] … I would recommend it for any college student to do it this way.”
Immediately upon graduating from college, Joseph was already an officer. His post-college journey in the Military began as a second lieutenant armor officer cruising around “in a big tank doing live fire ranges.” It was, as Joseph recalls, “a great deal of fun.” But he was also thinking about what he might like to do after the Military, and thus he turned his focus toward gaining skills in supply and transportation logistics. Both experiences — from tank to supply science — were very satisfying.
“I was responsible for 16 people and over 2.5 million [dollars] worth of equipment.”
I was able to do the right thing and make a difference in people’s lives.
His on-the-job training in transportation and supply coordination was equally rewarding and more satisfying than what his civilian peers were doing at the same age.
“I can’t think of any of my friends from college that went out to mainstream America that had such a great amount of experience placed on their shoulders and had the opportunity of leadership positions in such an early age.”
Joseph was able to grow these leadership skills on two separate deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Although very nervous at first, Joseph soon grew accustomed to base camp life in both settings, where, as an officer in logistics, he was often far removed from direct combat. His organization and discretion over which vehicles and devices to bring to the front lines, however, saved lives and made a difference.
“We were bringing in heavy resources that were going to be lifesaving and counter some of the improvised explosive devices ...”
This meant a great deal to Joseph.
“… I was able to do the right thing and make a difference in people’s lives.”
Today, Joseph has taken his military experiences and translated them to a master’s degree in logistics management — an education paid for by the GI Bill. The Army made this dream possible in more ways than just money.
“Having the money to go to school is one thing, but having the time to go to school is something different. The Army afforded me both.”
Currently, Joseph continues to serve in his logistics role. He is also married to a military spouse and about to become a father. But as he approaches his 20th year of service at a very young age, he knows he can retire by age 43 and still receive an income for the rest of his life, as well as all the health benefits.
“For us to both have that military retirement means that when we leave the military service, we’re going to do what we want to do … whether that’s being something like a volunteer with the Red Cross or teaching on a college campus interacting with young kids — and help steer them on the path to life.”
Based on Joseph’s life accomplishments thus far, he’d be a worthy guide.
Possible Military Careers
Possible Civilian Careers
- Transportation Manager
- Store Manager
- Maintenance Superintendent
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