News | Dec. 30, 2019

Army War College class tours Eastern Distribution Center, receives firsthand look at the global logistics in action

By Ed Shank, DLA Distribution Public Affairs

The mission of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is “to prepare selected military, civilian, and international leaders for the responsibilities of strategic leadership.” With wars fought on multiple fronts and installations around the world, logistics plays a major role in accomplishing that mission. Fortunately for the students and staff at the war college, the Eastern Distribution Center, the largest military warehouse in the entire world, is less than 25 miles away.

For Dr. Paul Jussel, professor of military studies and the U.S. Army War College, having access to the EDC gives his students a visual example of what might otherwise be an abstract idea in a textbook.

“The course that I teach about theater campaigning,” says Jussel, “is all about understanding the sustainment side of a campaign and how important that is and that you just can’t do it overnight. It takes a lot of preparation, a lot of thinking, a lot of planning before you can go do it and this place represents so much of that to the students. They truly get an appreciation for the things that they have to think about ahead of time before you can even get into campaigning.”

Jussel says he has been visiting the Defense Logistics Agency Distribution’s New Cumberland facility for 17 of the 18 years he’s been teaching so his students can get an appreciation for what it takes to get massive amounts of supplies and equipment to a line unit halfway around the world.

“I’ve been doing my best to bring the seminar up here every year,” Jussel says, “to do exactly what we did today. They get a chance to tour the facility and hear from the commander, but also to see all the DOD civilians—all the wage-grade folks that work here and make it happen, the selfless things that they do to support the warfighter around the world. You just don’t see that everywhere in a normal organization that these guys come from at the tactical level. To see this quantity of civilians working at a place like this, dedicated just as their soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are, is really eye-opening to them. And just the outright, 1.7 million square-foot warehouse. How do you manage something like that?”

According to Army Col. James M. Callis II, DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, commander, the benefits of having a group of potential military generals and Defense Department senior leaders visit the Defense Distribution Center Susquehanna,is mutual.

“We’re fortunate to have so many capable and inquisitive senior leaders right down the street from us,” Callis says. “From a defense perspective, our nation’s competitive advantage lies in its ability to project and sustain combat power around the globe.  DDSP plays a pivotal role in maintaining that advantage. Sharing that information with our joint leaders as well as those from partner nations is both important and fulfilling.”

As a career educator, Jussel says nothing beats the show-and-tell aspect of such visits.

“Most of these guys would have no idea what a combat support agency is and what it does,” he says. “So, rather than showing them the wire-diagram I can come up here and physically put them in a 1.7 million square-foot warehouse and explain what it is and what it does. How do you beat that?”