BY CAPT. JAMES R. MACARANAS, SC, USN, CHIEF, CAPABILITIES AND ANALY SIS DIVISION, JOINT STAFF J4
How often have you met with a fellow service member from the Air Force, Army, or Marine Corps and learned something new? Exactly – always. As a Supply Corps officer, you have the opportunity to serve full time alongside our sister Services and expand that learning dynamic while contributing to the development of the Joint Force.
One such opportunity can be found on the Joint Staff. The mission of the Joint Staff is to assist the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who serves as the principal military adviser to the President, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. The Joint Staff focuses on providing unified strategic direction of the combatant forces, their operation under unified command, and their integration as an efficient team of land, naval, and air forces.
Supply Corps officers O-2 and above serve on the Joint Staff in various capacities. The Joint Staff, J4 Directorate for Logistics is where you can find many of your fellow chops. The mission of the J4 is to lead the Joint Logistics Enterprise to assess and strengthen Joint Force readiness, improve Joint warfighting capability, and enable globally integrated operations while providing the best logistics related military advice to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
In the J4, Supply Corps officers will recognize several of the specialties and areas of responsibility we operate in as the Navy’s logisticians. And here’s the twist - you’re teamed up with counterparts from Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, to include military, civilian, and contractor personnel, and though you all speak logistics, the ‘dialects’ vary widely.
Here’s a sampling of what you will find in the J4 and where you may fit.
Operational Contracting Support:
Perform and maintain Joint integrated contracting capability while developing Joint contracting and contract management concepts.
Requirements and Resources:
Review Service Program Objective Memorandum submissions and coordinate logistics subject matter expert engagement to meet Joint and Department of Defense goals for the Joint Force.
Strategy and Readiness:
Evaluate the Joint Logistics Enterprise’s ability to support the Joint warfighter in trans-regional, multi-domain, multi-functional conflicts.
Ensure acquisition programs with logistics missions meet requirements to support the Joint warfighter.
Maintenance and Supply Support:
Identify and resolve operational materiel shortages, seams, and gaps.
This is just a small portion of what the J4 does. There are a multitude of additional responsibilities in the J4 including a 24/7/365 Joint Logistics Operations Center, multinational interagency engagement, engineering operations, and a knowledge-based logistics division. Your daily involvement with the entirety of the J4 will stretch your imagination and prompt you to expand your way of thinking.
You’ll need to “shed your Service” so to speak. Your concerns will go beyond the color of your uniform; the scope of a particular issue will resonate with the other Services, and they will likely have a much different view of the problem and how to solve it. As a member of the Joint Staff, you’ll quickly realize that the process of finding the answer won’t always line up with how Navy would address it, nor will the solution always perfectly align with Navy’s desires. Figuring out how to operate and solve issues in this environment will result in a better Joint Force and along the way you will become a better officer and leader.
While tackling these challenges, you will also have the opportunity to earn qualifications that will enhance your professional development. Depending on your assignment, you can fulfill requirements for Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) Phase I, JPME Phase II, Joint Qualified Officer (Level III JQO), and other Joint designations. These qualifications demonstrate expertise and experience in operating beyond the Navy, in a Joint environment.
Look for an opportunity to do a Joint tour sometime in your career. In addition to enhancing your career, ultimately when you return to the Navy, you’ll have a greater understanding of the demanding road ahead for the Department as a whole, and be able to engage with an expanded breadth of knowledge. You’ll integrate what you have learned from the Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps and deliver wider-ranging, well-informed results. And the next time you meet up with that fellow officer from another Service, they will learn from you!