The Army Combined Arms Support Command has charged senior warrant officers with facilitating the reverse collection and analysis team program to translate observations, insights, and lessons learned into changes in doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities.
Many would argue that our continuously changing contemporary operational environment and the Army's move toward a full-spectrum capability are the driving forces behind the expanding role of sustainment warrant officers in the modular force. In many ways, not everyone would agree with the wisdom of this expansion. Some people in the warrant officer and other communities are concerned that we may be headed in the wrong direction with these expanded roles.
Sustainment leaders quickly recognized the importance of this initiative, and the CASCOMcommander at the time, Major General Mitchell H. Stevenson, approved the addition of the three senior warrant officers to CASCOM's table of distribution and allowances. He wanted to use their expertise to validate many of the issues units were reporting.
Army warrant officers are unique in many ways, but in this capacity they are able to call on their expertise at all levels of war to reduce the burden on the CASCOM staff. They routinely conduct first-cut analysis on sustainment issues before CASCOM's directorates start working on solutions.
DL2QA affords us the opportunity to look at Army sustainment from the top down, across the different levels of war: strategic, operational, and tactical. We work in the domains of doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF). We warrant officers may be aligned functionally to our specific branches of quartermaster, ordnance, and transportation, but our daily responsibilities involve a holistic sustainment outlook.
Some may ask why we should use warrant officers in this capacity. The answer is simple: Who other than an Army warrant officer has the ability, understanding, expertise, knowledge, and breadth and depth of experience to work highly technical, tactical issues at an operational level while knowing how to embrace and engage strategic partners to accomplish the mission?
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brubeck was selected as one of the Army's first mobility warrant officers (military occupational specialty 882A) and later became the course manager for that specialty. I was the first warrant officer to attend the Theater Logistics Studies Course (TLog) at the Army Logistics University, another course normally attended by commissioned officers. Each of us has deployed several times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, serving in our areas of expertise at the theater level of command.
Today, warrant officers are placed in positions of increased responsibility based on their progressive training and experience. DL2QA's three warrant officers are no different. The contemporary Army warrant officer understands that you cannot move into the future until you fully understand the past. Working in DL2QA at the Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) has allowed us to broaden our individual skill sets, enabling us to provide a valuable capability to the sustainment community and the Army as a whole.
DL2QA's warrant officers champion a program called the reverse collection and analysis team (R–CAAT). An R–CAAT is a team at CASCOM that hosts a commander and a few of his key staff members at Fort Lee immediately after a deployment. For 2 days, they conduct a leader professional development session, which includes a commander's interview and roundtable sessions with each of the DOTMLPF domain owners at CASCOM.
The Sustainment Center of Excellence recently assigned three of the Army's logistics experts to its Directorate of Lessons Learned and Quality Assurance (DL2QA) at Fort Lee, Virginia. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Percy Alexander (a senior property accounting technician), Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mark Brubeck (a senior mobility officer), and I, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wayne Baugh (a senior automotive maintenance officer), are the first warrant officers selected to work in this capacity within the sustainment community.
Warrant officers have instant credibility when dealing with different organizations. We three warrant officers function in an environment where we communicate routinely with Department of Defense and Army agencies, such as the U.S. Transportation Command, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Defense Logistics Agency, Army Training and Doctrine Command, Army Combined Arms Center, Army Forces Command, Army Materiel Command, Army TACOM and CECOM Life Cycle Management Commands, Army Human Resources Command, and many more.
We three warrant officers have dubbed ourselves "change agents" because it is our charter to change the culture of the sustainment community. Changing a culture that has been in place for years is a complex and daunting task, but we have signed up for the mission. We provide an initial briefing to every sustainment professional military education class at the Army Logistics University, outlining the sustainment lessons learned program and the importance of filling out surveys and writing observations, insights, and lessons learned.
The "so what" of this entire article is this: What benefits are provided from using warrant officers in this capacity for the warrant officer cohort, the Army, and individual Soldiers? As we move forward, we realize that the Army is a learning environment. Our environment is changing at a much faster rate than before. In order to get ahead of these changes, we should consider investing more in our warrant officer cohort.