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NDSU to Offer Military Logistics Master's Degree

Posted: Mar 27, 2006

Getting military equipment and supplies from point A to point B isn't an easy task on the battlefield.

U.S. Army Capt. Jim Gannon said he was often frustrated during his recent tour of duty in Iraq because when a shipment left a distribution site, it was nearly impossible to track or change its direction.

That delayed getting supplies to the officers who needed them.

A new program at North Dakota State University aims to ease that problem by teaching officers how to more efficiently transport and track everything from ammunition to medical supplies.

Gannon is one of about 20 career military officers and civil servants who will be the program's first students this fall.

NDSU will be the only school to offer a master's degree in military logistics.

The Department of Defense selected the campus for a three-year pilot program, said program manager Brian Kalk. If it's successful, it could become permanent.

The curriculum is an expansion of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, an independent research and education center at NDSU.

Kalk, a former logistics officer with the Marines, said officers first realized during Desert Storm that they needed a more efficient way to track assets.

"Logistics is always the key to battlefield success," Kalk said.

One aspect of the program is training officers to use radio-frequency identification tags and other technology to track supplies, similar to how retail stores are starting to track products.

That technology is now being used by the military, but it's only in its infancy, Kalk said.

The NDSU courses will also train officers on geographic information systems and global positioning systems, said Denver Tolliver, the academic program director.

"Our primary goals for the program are to acquaint them (officers) with the most current thinking and technology about military logistics and supply chain management," Tolliver said.

The curriculum can also be applied to homeland security and natural disaster responses, Tolliver said.

The 36-credit program, condensed into one year, will be demanding, Tolliver said.

The Department of Defense will pay the students' tuition.

Graduates will continue their military or civil service careers, likely for another 10 to 15 years, Kalk said.

Gannon, stationed in Fort Stewart, Ga., said the logistics degree interested him more than any other master's degree program.

After serving in Iraq, the 31-year-old said he has a good understanding of the Army supply system and some of its shortfalls. He said he's seen the challenges lead to the waste of vital resources.

"I want to help prevent this waste in the future," Gannon said.

Students will be coming from across the country, some from overseas deployments, Kalk said. Many are married and will be bringing their families.

Gannon, who has been to North Dakota before, said he's looking forward to coming to NDSU.

"The weather's going to be a lot better than Iraq," Gannon said.

Published in The Forum
Mar. 27, 2006

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