In last May’s “Back to the Basics” Blog Article we discussed the similarities and differences in Business Logistics with Acquisition Logistics and introduced the concept of Logistics Engineering. I am an advocate of the use of proper terminology as it enables common understanding.
As I was thinking about Ron Charest’s June blog post, “Why a Career in Logistics” a thought struck me, “Military Veterans are great candidates for Logistics Engineering roles, but they don’t understand how to communicate their experience.” I wondered how best to communicate this value proposition and what resources are available to help bridge the knowledge gap.
Having spent 12 years active duty in both Enlisted and Officer roles, I know the importance of good information and I want to share some of my resources and experience becoming a Logistics Engineer with the veteran community.
Understanding Military Experience’s Connection with Logistics Engineering
The military gives a lot of responsibility at a younger age than what is normal in Industry. An 18-20 year old could be responsible for supply room worth over $100K, and be relied on to bring supplies the last mile from the warehouse to the customer (Soldier). As Soldiers grow up in this sort of environment, they learn critical thinking skills, contingency planning, and resource management. Service members don’t always do jobs that are in their job description. For example, I had a Junior Enlisted Soldier that was a Transportation Coordinator by Military Occupation Specialty (MOS), but she was better at running a supply room than three previous qualified supply sergeants.
From an Army perspective, Officers in the three “feeder” specialties for the Logistics Branch are interchangeable. Quartermasters (Supply Chain), Transportation Officers (PHS&T and Movement of goods), and Ordnance Officers (Ammunition and Maintenance Operations) serve in leadership roles within warehouses, maintenance shops, and transportation activities. Regardless of base branch Quartermasters, Transportation Officers, and Ordnance Officers will serve in positions throughout the Army’s Logistics Enterprise. The diversification of experience directed at young officers is meant to build broad Logisticians and translates well into Logistics Engineering.
Correlating Logistics Elements with Military Experience
When a service member reviews the 12 Integrated Product Support (IPS) elements, it is easy to draw direct correlation between one’s experience and the DOD standard for Logistics Engineering/Product Support Engineering.
- A Service member who has grown up working in warehouses, building the supply chain in support of a Brigade Combat Team will find that activities in Supply Support are familiar and comfortable.
- Service Members that have experience with Maintenance Operations will easily translate their experience into Maintenance Planning and Management.
- Any service member with experience in Transportation will find that Packaging, Handling, Storage, and Transportation is second nature.
- The service members that are more communications and IT based will find comfort in IT Systems Continuous Support.
- All service members will have some experience in Facilities & Infrastructure, Manpower and Personnel, Support Equipment, and Training/Training Support.
That is 8 of the 12 IPS Elements that have direct correlation between Military Service and Logistics Engineering. There is a need for more Logistics Engineers in the Defense Industry and service members have the experience and know-how to make the transition.
“How Can I Make the Leap to a Career in Logistics Engineering with the Defense Industry?”
My advice would be a two pronged approach through certifications and leveraging DOD SkillBridge Internships:
Defense Acquisition University Certifications
The Defense Acquisition University (DAU) provides training for DOD personnel and Industry Partners on a wide variety of topics in the defense field to include Acquisitions and Life-Cycle Logistics. In accordance with the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act of 1990, the USG established the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) certifications. The certification that is most pertinent to service members is the Life-Cycle Logistics certification. There are three levels, but level 1 is all online. Unfortunately for service members and Industry Professionals, full credit for DAWIA LCL Level 1 Certification is only limited to Acquisition Coded Professionals.
CLEP Certification Program
At the start of 2020, The Council of Logistics Engineering Professionals established a certification program known as the Defense Industry Life Cycle Logistics Certification Program (DLCL). DLCL mirrors the DAWIA certification program and is open to CLEP members. Once you complete all the DAU training, you would send a copy of your transcript, an updated resume, and a letter of recommendation from your supervisor to CLEP and we would review for certification.
DAU also has a new “Micro-Certification” program specifically aimed at improving the Acquisition Work Force. Currently there are three “Micro-Certifications” that you can earn with much more to be released throughout the year:
- CLCL 003 Supply Chain Integration Credential
- CLCL 009 Information Technology Life Cycle Support Credential
- CLCL 011 Product Support Affordability & Cost Fundamentals
Having a credential verifies your experience and provides a basis from which a hiring manager can understand your experiences. There are other certifications out there, but these are the ones that are best geared towards developing Logistics Engineers.
DOD SkillBridge Program
Another great resource is the DOD SkillBridge Program. Under DOD guidance it affords the service member an opportunity to work/intern with a company during the last 6 months of their time in service with chain of command approval. There are lots of great companies that are listed on the skillbridge website which you can reach out to individually and see about opportunities.
Gaining industry experience was invaluable to my transition off Active Duty and provided additional depth to my resume as a Logistics Engineer. You can do individual internships or participate in one of the larger fellowship programs such as HireOurHeroes. I would recommend getting with your transition office to work through the details.
What other resources have you found that are relevant in your own transition? Have you hired service members and grown them as Logistics Engineers in your own organization? What worked? What could be improved? Feel free to comment below or reach out to me at [email protected]