BY LT. JASON POTVIN, SC, USN, NAVY SUPPLY CORPS SCHOOL
The future of training our Navy’s logistics professionals is here! Since opening its doors to the Fleet in early 2011, the Navy Supply Corps School’s (NSCS) Wheeler Center has been operating in beautiful Newport, Rhode Island, utilizing a state-of-the-art facility and training over 2,000 students a year. Named after Adm. Kenneth Ray Wheeler, Prisoner of War, Bronze Star recipient, and the 31st Chief of the Supply Corps, the $22 million facility includes a spacious 58,000 square feet and houses over a dozen classrooms, most of which offer modern electronic and tele-training capabilities. The building also contains three multi-purpose rooms that can hold 150 students or be segmented into three different conference rooms. Additionally, training at the Wheeler Center is enhanced with a mock-up space used to train students on actual supply equipment and spaces. The view isn’t bad, either; NSCS sits in the heart of Newport overlooking the majestic Pell Bridge and Narragansett Bay.
NSCS leadership and staff represent a diverse group of professionals with resumes covering a wide range of fleet experience. The schoolhouse is led by its 29th Commanding Officer Capt. Kristen Fabry, who assumed command in July 2014 after completing successful tours at Naval Supply Systems Command Mechanicsburg and the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Executive Officer Cmdr. Trent Kalp arrived to NSCS around the same time as Capt. Fabry after serving as the Supply Officer aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The dynamic leadership that Capt. Fabry and Cmdr. Kalp provide sets the tone for the rest of the NSCS team who brings an abundance of experience and perspective to the command. The staff at NSCS includes a broad mix of officer, enlisted, and civilian personnel who represent a variety of professional communities and ratings. According to Capt. Fabry, “we truly have a world class staff of hand selected professional experts - diverse and abundantly talented.”
As the center for the Navy’s training of logistics professionals,NSCS offers a broad range of courses that reflect the expansive nature of military logistics. These include: the Supply Corps Officer Basic Qualification Course (BQC), Senior Supply Officer Department Head Course (SR SODHC), Supply Officer Department Head Course (SODHC), Transportation of Hazardous Material (HAZMAT), Reserve Supply Management and Instructor Refresher Training (RESMART), International Logistics Executive Advanced Development (ILEAD), Advanced Management Program (AMP), Integrated Expeditionary Logistics (IEL), International Officer Supply Basic Course (IOSCO), Department Head Leadership Course (DHLC), and Division Officer Leadership Course (DIVOLC). Each course is unique and offers a different skillset and unique knowledge necessary for supply and logistics personnel of all ranks and service branches to succeed in the Fleet.
Basic Qualification Course
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SHC LeDezman Johnson providing instruction to Second Battalion Bravo Company in NSCS ship’s store mock-up.
The longest, most robust and highly-visible course that NSCS offers is the BQC, which marks the beginning of an officer’s supply training in the Navy. The six-month course provides an in-depth study of the supply system encompassing the following major areas of an afloat supply department: supply management; food service; retail operations; disbursing management; and leadership management. Through the use of practical exercises, practice sets, and exams, BQC students demonstrate the ability to understand and operate the duties of a division officer in each functional area. Let’s take a look at the major subjects the course focuses on:
Supply Management (SM)
SM is an important functional area for future supply officers (SUPPOs) to learn prior to joining the Fleet. Students at NSCS learn SM by focusing on areas of supply including transportation, engineering, maintenance, R-Supply and other services. Students learn several areas of logistics that cover the movement of personnel, equipment and supplies, and the administrative support to customers. These services are critical in our efforts to provide effective and efficient support for all supply chains and support networks.
Food Service Management (FS)
FS is another critical part of training all future SUPPOs receive prior to joining the Fleet. The FS team focuses on basic level food service management, including but not limited to provisions ordering, receipt of stores, inventories, sanitation, galley operations, and records keeping. The food service team utilizes the Food Service Management System (FSM 3.0) in conjunction with an FSM lab, allowing SUPPOs to effectively learn wardroom management, issue and receipt process for stores, financial returns, and personnel and customer service. The FS team incorporates hands-on exposure of the galley with the students by utilizing the mock-up galley at NSCS. The mock-up galley provides students with exposure to equipment, food preparation, and galley sanitation.
Retail Operation (RO)
During the course, RO instructors introduce the Retail Operations Management System Two (ROM II), which provides students with instruction in purchasing, receiving, sorting, expending, selling, inventorying, surveying and accountability of ship’s store merchandise under the Navy Exchange Ship’s Store Program. In the future, NSCS will integrate ROM III to the curriculum as the Fleet transitions to the updated program. Since opening NSCS in Newport, the RO team has made tremendous strides in creating and updating a mock-up ship’s store, barbershop and laundry space. By utilizing the mock-up space, students’ learning is enhanced through practical exercises in receiving merchandise and breaking out merchandise from the bulk storeroom to various sales outlets.
Disbursing Management (DM)
The DM team utilizes the Disbursing Management Office System, which familiarizes students to naval accounting policies and procedures. The curriculum focuses on check cashing, collections, disbursements, treasury checks, accounting for discrepancies, and financial returns. DM instructors provide practice sets for students to process daily business transactions as well as execute a ship’s end-of-month financial returns. The students are provided with extensive Navy Cash® training, which includes all of the financial transactions that different supply divisions and individual shipmates complete. Students will also train in a Navy Cash lab, where they receive hands-on experience with daily Navy Cash procedures and equipment troubleshooting.
Leadership Management (LM)
LM has taken on an entire new look and approach to learning since NSCS arrived in Newport. Students get an in-depth look at the Navy’s organizational structure, including areas of Navy directives, awards, recognition, counseling, evaluation and fitness reports, manning and the normal career progression of SUPPOs and junior personnel. LM instructors teach students the importance of ethics and how it relates to the everyday life of a SUPPO. BQC culminates with a week-long DIVOLC, a five-day class designed to facilitate and indoctrinate all junior officers who will soon be taking over an afloat operation. DIVOLC is a valuable learning experience that provides the skill set necessary to be effective first-time leaders in an operational environment. Through interactive videos, role-playing and group based discussions, students are exposed to various leadership dilemmas and engage in talks about potential courses of action. The leadership team has introduced “pressure cooker” scenarios, which put the students in interactive, unique, and challenging scenario-driven environments, better preparing them for the Fleet.
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Mr. Lester Griffith providing instruction to Third Battalion Delta Company in NSCS galley mock-up.
NSCS has implemented mock-up spaces to simulate afloat supply operations and provide a more realistic, interactive experience for students. The mock-up consists of a supply storeroom, galley, ship’s store, barber shop, laundry operation, and break-out rooms. During the course of their time at NSCS, students utilize the mock-up to complete simulated turnovers and inventories, gain galley sanitation inspection and equipment familiarization experience, and get experience conducting ship’s store inventories and break-outs. Capt. Fabry is extremely pleased with the incorporation of the mock-up spaces and believes “the use of our mock-up and hands-on training is the next best thing to getting out to the Fleet.”
Supply Officer Department Head Course (SODHC)/Department Head Leadership Course (DHLC) & Senior Officer Department Head Course (SR SODHC)
Many former BQC students come back to NSCS to take the SODHC, which is a four-week class that prepares junior officers to assume the duties of a SUPPO on a ship or submarine. SODHC includes refresher training in all of the major functional areas of an afloat supply department operation. While enrolled in SODHC, students are also exposed to topics such as the government commercial purchase card program, configuration management, hazardous materials management, total asset visibility, and submarine and surface-specific supply functions. While SODHC focuses on current fleet trends and technical developments, it also stresses developing effective and efficient leadership and managerial skills to meet the challenging “at sea” environment.
Students reporting to a department head tour have the opportunity to attend the DHLC, a five-day class designed to facilitate and indoctrinate all officers that will heading to a job in a department head capacity. The class encompasses ten modules that drastically shift the mindsets of the students from being a functional and effective division officer to the proactive and strategic-thinking department head.
SUPPOs who are reporting back to sea as a large-deck SUPPO have the opportunity to attend the SR SODHC course. This eight-day class is designed to prepare students for their role as a large-deck SUPPO by focusing senior officer leadership and ethics principles, as well as a refresher training on all of the functional areas of an afloat supply department.
NSCS offers a wide variety of training for other logistics functions throughout the Fleet. The HAZMAT course serves as an avenue for students to receive formal training prerequisites to certify HAZMAT for shipment via all modes of transportation. The course includes a comprehensive overview of the movement of HAZMAT by motor, rail, water, and air. NSCS offers IEL training for unique, non-shipboard logistics environments, such as Logistics Support Units, Navy SEAL Teams, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Teams, and other expeditionary units. During IEL, students are provided with an overview of the joint planning process, the joint and naval logistics chain of command, and specific issues and concerns related to the deployment and logistics support in an expeditionary environment. Students may also return to NSCS to attend RESMART. This course provides Navy Reserve logistics specialist (LS) training in afloat supply management procedures. The RESMART topics are presented in a fast-paced environment and cover the latest information related to major LS occupational standards and are equivalent to the topics covered in LS “A” and “C” schools.
The Joint Aviation Supply Maintenance Material Management (JASMMM) course is a valuable learning experience designed to improve aircraft readiness through the teamwork of maintenance and supply logisticians. JASMMM also aides the students in the development of technical, supervisory, and management skills in aviation support procedures to create a mutual awareness between maintenance and supply personnel for optimum weapon systems support. JASMMM is the Navy’s sole source of aviation logistics training for SUPPOs and places specific emphasis on the synergy created through strong lines of communication built between maintenance and supply.
NSCS continues to evolve and branch out from its traditional afloat training by providing training for international logistics officers. The IOSCO familiarizes students with the organizational structure of the United States government, United States Navy, Navy Supply Systems Command, Defense Logistics Agency, and the Foreign Military Sales processes. IOSCO addresses the logistics supply chain defined as identifying, locating, ordering and tracking assets. The more senior international students are offered the ILEAD course. ILEAD is designed to give senior international officers a better understanding of current trends in logistics and supply chain management from the military perspective. The course includes the AMP as the first portion of the course. AMP is a two-week long executive leadership course designed for Cmdrs and GS13s and GS14s that deals with transportation, supply chain management, Lean Six Sigma, and many other management skills used both by industry and the Department of Defense.
The Navy Supply Corps School has created a unique environment which houses relationships with on-base tenant commands and communities including the Navy Justice School, Surface Warfare Officer School, Senior Enlisted Academy, Officer Training Command, and many other activities. Community outreach is also important to NSCS; in 2015, NSCS students had heavy volunteer involvement with the community and totaled 4,665 volunteer hours between students and staff, resulting in the 2015 Navy Community Service Project Good Neighbor award.
NSCS’ modern facilities, the vast and diverse knowledge the staff provides, and the proximity to other professional communities in the Navy have made the schoolhouse one of the most dynamic and effective learning sites in the Navy. Without exception, the focus remains to fulfill the school’s mission to “provide students with the personal and professional foundations for success.” That effort is made possible by the schoolhouse’s vision to attract and train the finest instructors and staff who, together, continue to develop and enhance a world class continuum of training. The finest Supply Corps officers are sent to the Fleet by receiving the best possible training at NSCS and utilizing the training opportunities that are available by being home-ported in Newport. Capt. Fabry is very happy with the instruction that takes place at NSCS, and feels “we train every student such that we would be proud and confident to have them serving alongside us as shipmates.” Ultimately, we should all take pride in the traditions and heritage of the Supply Corps by providing the best possible training to certify students Ready for Sea!