Joint Professional Military Education, phase II: step two of the joint specialty officer’s journey: “a few thoughts from two students of the Joint Forces Staff College “

Joint Professional Military Education, phase II: step two of the joint specialty officer’s journey: “a few thoughts from two students of the Joint Forces Staff College “

Roy A. Drake

Observations from LCDR Roy A. Drake–The Journey Continues At Navy Postgraduate School, supply officers have the opportunity to attend the Naval War College and complete Joint Professional Military Education I (JPME I) of the three-step process of becoming a Joint Specialty Officer (JSO). After step one is done, step two can be completed at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC), Joint and Combined Warfighting School. Step three requires completing a three-year tour in a joint-designated billet. Final approval authority is the Secretary of Defense.

When I arrived at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., I had no idea what to expect. I arrived with little joint exposure to the Army and Air Force. I left with a better understanding of joint and multinational issues. Joint concepts learned from seminars, war planning, focus study groups, and senior officers and ambassadors’ lectures were current and relevant for logisticians. Lessons learned and experiences shared with senior officers, including some combatant commanders, in recent wars and conflicts were significant parts of the curriculum. Classmates recently returned from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan shed light on the challenges faced in joint operations/logistics in the real world.

The diverse class consisted of Special Operations members–Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and foreign officers. My goal was to “pick their brains” about supply and logistics issues to help prepare me for my assignment at Pacific Command.

The joint education added value to my personal toolbox. As far as jointness is concerned, prior to JFSC, I had a “discombobulated” toolbox of a few scattered wrenches. After completing JPME II, I have a diversified set of craftsman tools that bring an improved capability and skill set to the warfighter to mitigate logistics challenges.

Setting and Environment

JCWS had 270 quotas available for three classes per calendar year. Since my attendance, the college is planning to reduce the time from three months to 10 weeks and conduct classes four times per calendar year in order to accommodate the Joint Planning and Execution Community (JPEC). Over 100 different countries send representatives of their perspective armed services. Annually, about 3 percent of the attendees are Supply Corps and Naval “loggies.”

The seminar setting (approximately 20 members, O-4s/O-5s) facilitated lively discussions and enhanced the overall learning process. Role-playing and preparing staff officers’ briefs helped focus us on “bottom-line responses.”

It became readily apparent to me that in order for students to maximize their joint and interagency knowledge, cultural norms and attitudes would have to be adjusted. What one service thinks about another plays a huge role in the receptiveness of jointness and interoperability. Topics relating to Services’ Title X responsibilities, rules of engagement, net-centric warfare, war planning, transformation, embedded media, interagency, flexible deterrent options, war on terrorism, operational art, operations-other-than-war, battle space management, force protection, theater security cooperation strategies and plans, political-military issues, capabilities, and strategic level documents were discussed in depth. Sometimes concepts meant different things to different officers, based on their service viewpoint. These varying views from other services and foreign nations (e.g. Japan and Greece) in a “collaborative, non-attribution” environment contributed greatly to better understanding the joint and combined environment’s effect on supply and logistics.

Navy Interactions

One of the highlights for many of my non-naval classmates was going on a tour aboard a Navy warship. The executive officer on board was my shipmate on a previous ship, which made it easy to set up a tour.

The class had numerous questions about naval operations and logistics. “What does the supply officer do?” It had to be the easiest question that I have ever answered. “How do you get food, gas, mail, etc.?” They were curious as to how the ship fit in the joint arena and the Expeditionary Strike Group.

Some Air Force and Army officers were not aware of how the Navy operated at the tactical or operational level. Most understood the strategic role of the Navy. The Marine officer had been on many deployments and knew the role of the amphibious ship at all levels.

The class was very appreciative and learned quite a bit on the tour. Thanks to my shipmates!

Focus Study Groups

Focus Study Groups were generally assigned based on where the participants were ordered. I was assigned the Pacific and Transportation groups. The Pacific group was focused on countries in the Pacific Command area of responsibility and the “DIME” (Diplomatic, Information, Military, and Economic) elements of power.

The Transportation group focused on logistics issues with trips to Military Sealift Command vessels, Norfolk International Terminals, Navy Air Terminals, and related warehouses.

Radio Frequency Identification, joint total asset visibility, interoperability, force protection, restructuring, and transformation were topics of discussion that are crucial to the war fighter.


Lessons learned briefs from retired flag/ general officers added value. In the non-attribution environment, much can be learned so that past mistakes can be minimized. Some of the top flag/general officers and ambassadors provided candid briefs and faced tough questions from the joint/multinational audience. Logistics was a recurring theme, often at a mismatch with operations. Integrating logistics with warfighting is a must.

Final Thoughts from LCDR Turner

JFSC, JCWS prepared me for the cultural and military differences for each of the 10 coalition partners participating in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) naval patrols. Each of these coalition countries has different restrictions and operating procedures that make a simple evolution like refueling at sea a challenge. Certain countries will not refuel other countries and some countries will not enter the Arabian Gulf or provide fuel to those who do. All of these little nuances, coupled with several different communication suites, were discussed in labs and lessons at JFSC.

One lasting memory from JFSC was being told that I would be a representative of my country, and the service given to each of the coalition partners would reflect directly on the United States and its policies. My choice of words, verbal expressions, and attitude will be scrutinized as I prepare to transfer tons of cargo, thousands of pallets of food, or millions of gallons of fuel. Thanks JFSC for preparing me for the real world!

The instructors were professional and had the students’ best interest in mind. They provided reference materials and valuable take-aways. The seminar environment was open and candid. They did a marvelous job scheduling and balancing offsite workshops. The versatility in the schedule made the time go by fast. I highly recommend JPME II to anyone in pursuit of the JSO designation.

The views expressed by the authors do not reflect any JFSC official position or policy. The authors would like to thank Jane P. K. Hammond for assistance in writing this article. Hammond completed 20 years in the U.S. Navy and was medically retired as a commander She was a board designated Joint Specialty Officer Her Navy tours included duty on both joint and combined staffs.

LCDR Roy Drake is currently assigned to U.S. Headquarters, Pacific Command. His previous shore duty stations were Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif.; Navy Component, Central Command Bahrain (TAD); and Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. His sea tours include Materiel Officer on USS Bellean Wood (LHA-3) and Supply Officer on USS Duluth (LPD 6).

LCDR Marco Turner’s shore duty stations were NPS, Monterey, and Naval Air Station Jacksonville. His sea tours include Disbursing/Sales Officer on USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and SUPPO on USS Cleveland (LPD 7).

COPYRIGHT 2004 U.S. Department of the Navy, Supply Systems Command

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