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Maritime Logistics Community News : Summer 2011
38 NAVY SUPPLY NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2011 From Supply to Logistics – An Evolution “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Author unknown, commonly misattributed to Charles Darwin LEUT AMY BLACKER, RANR What does ‘2030’ mean? How is our world going to look then? The literature student in me recalls more than a few sci-fi possibilities: UAV logistics helicopters, unmanned ships, underwater replenishment ships, network-centric warfare, global taxation... As a parent I am also inclined to consider social constructs, food and water supplies, employment opportunities and environments... I could go on! One thing I am certain of is that, as a Supply Community (SuC), we are going to struggle with adapting to and incorporating new technological advances unless we hurry up and get with the program ourselves. Being military, we need to lead these advances, not be lead by them. This is what gives us our edge and makes us an employer of choice for our future recruits. We have to “ensure that the Community is positioned to meet the future capability requirements and is able to deliver the required logistic and administrative support to Navy and the wider ADF”. 1 This sort of thing is what needs to be considered by the Supply (SU) Category Review. There is no point changing the name of our Branch, or our Officers or Sailors categories, or any of the ways in which we approach the delivery of our business, unless we are absolutely certain that we need to. I say we should have done it already. I think this because: • In order to ensure greater relevance in a current (2011) context, the SU Branch needs to pre-preposition for a future (2030) context, meaning names that more holistically describes how the SuC is employed and what it delivers to both the Navy and the wider ADF in 2011 and in 2030. • The present seagoing role no longer defines the responsibilities of the modern SU Department, though it does reinforce our training continuums by preparing all of us for further careers in logistics. Nowadays, the delivery of logistics is defined by the application of the two dimensions of Defence logistics, being Operations and Capability Support, in a variety of working environments and different operational areas (Defence Material Organisation, Joint Logistics Command, Fleet Logistics Support Elements etc). Ultimately, there is also a need to position our people for future employment at senior levels within all areas of the organisation. • Changes in the ADF logistics system and within the wider logistics industry have contributed to the redefinition of the modern delivery of logistics support in the RAN. The term ‘logistics’ is more often than not used to describe all of the functions of the SuC, as it no longer refers simply to storage and distribution. Consistency means using the correct definition of our modern role: logistics in the maritime operational environment. ‘Equivalent’ communities within other Navies have varying titles, mostly around ‘Logistics’. Similarly, closer alignment with Industry means more specific job titles than simply ‘Supply Officer’. Should we consider changing our job titles if everyone else is doing it? Yes, we should consider it. It would also maintain greater ADF relevance and Tri-Service understanding of our primary role. • The Branch of 2020 (let alone 2030) needs to have matured to a point that it not only effectively and efficiently manages the provision of necessary logistic services to the RAN and broader ADF, but it does so giving due regard to technical innovations and societal developments. The basis of this sort of skill set exists already and will be further defined as technology advances. That being said, there will always be a need to manage automated processes by exception. This means we cannot simply accept automation without redundancy. What must be recognised at this point is that it is the modern Navy Logistician who has this necessary skill set and the wherewithal to adapt. This adaptability has ensured continued relevance in the operational environment and is evident in the ever-increasing demand for deployed Navy Logisticians. We’re good at what we do. Real good. • The Logistics Branch within Strategic Command will be at the forefront in anticipating the requirements of the future Navy logistics system, responsible to Chief of Navy for ensuring a high performance Logistic System and a robust Logistics Governance System. For the sake of consistency, it makes sense that the Logisticians employed within this new Branch be addressed as such. Consistency means using the correct definition of the modern SO role: logistics in the maritime operational environment. Looking forward, changing the title of the SU Branch and our Officers and Sailors categories will ensure interoperability in increasingly complex operating environments. • Networking is a key skill set applied by Logisticians. In operational environments, utilising the network established with Logisticians, who are RAN full-time members as well as Reserve PQ (Operational Logistics Officer – OPLOG), also from other Services and Navies, as well as Industry personnel, is often imperative to achieving the mission. In the future, interoperability will be even more of a key to succeeding in the provision of logistics in operational environments. Finally, the title ‘Supply’ does not fully describe the function of the modern RAN Supply (SU) Branch; moreover, it reinforces the perception that the core elements of the SU Branch and its Officer’s duties are primarily Secretariat and Supply Chain related. This is a vastly incorrect and unspecific definition of the actual SU role in 2011, let alone 2030; Supply Chain managerial skills are not solely the basic building block for delivering high end maritime logistics capability, which is exactly what is required of the modern SuC to ensure the Navy’s ability to ‘fight and win in the maritime environment’. But this is my opinion. I’ll be making a submission to the SU Category Review. Who else is prepared to do the same? 1 Minutes of the Supply Advisory Council meeting held 8 Mar 11, signed 31 Mar 11, Para 20.