Five Hidden Skills That Military Veterans Bring to Logistics

Style Magazine Newswire | 1/12/2018, 2:24 p.m.
Towards the end of World War II, one of the greatest challenges the Allies faced was the bitter attack in ...

by Chad Storlie

Towards the end of World War II, one of the greatest challenges the Allies faced was the bitter attack in December 1944 in what became known as the “Battle of the Bulge.” Central to the eventual Allied victory was not just General Patton, who swung his military units to attack in the opposite direction, but also a little know logistical unit called the “Red Ball Express.” The Red Ball Express was an all African American logistical unit that brought Patton the fuel, the ammunition, and the other essential supplies to enable his tank army to maneuver and repulse the surprise Nazi German attack. The Red Ball Express was one of the hero units of the Battle of the Bulge because their challenging work, innovation, and determination to get the necessary supplies to Patton’s tanks.

Logistics is an all-encompassing term that encases the purchase, movement, storage, and planning of items that a company or organization needs to complete its mission. Logistics for the US Military is largely moving people, ammunition, equipment, and weapons systems from one country to another country as fast and efficiently as possible to give the military commander on the ground the most effective forces possible in the shortest time possible. Businesses can easily miss the total value a veteran brings to the fields of logistics, warehousing, and maintenance because of the perceived disparity between their military skill sets and how the business operates.

In fact, there are five hidden military skill sets that are of enormous benefit to any and every company operating in the challenging and unforgiving environment of business logistics.

#1 – Use Military Veterans as Teachers / Trainers in Your Organization. An almost unknown skill set that most military veterans possess is the ability to instruct and to teach. Companies need instructors for teaching safety, standard processes, and teaching customers how best to uses the company’s technology interfaces, products and services. Military veterans as employee instructors and customer instructors is a profound way for a company to benefit from this hidden military veteran skill set.

#2 - War Game Your Supply Chain & Operations. In the military, War Gaming is the process that tests and adapts battle plans against the full range of expected actions and reactions of the enemy. This is essentially a force-on-force game. I used War Gaming extensively in Iraq as I was planning simultaneous, night, helicopter insertions of multiple Special Forces teams into Southern Iraq. What would the enemy do if they heard helicopters? Could we fly different routes away from enemy locations to keep team’s safe? Companies should use military veterans to war game their supply chains to ensure they have alternate, contingency, and emergency plans for their most essential services, commodities, parts, and skilled labor. The competition is smart and capable; War Gaming ensures the best business logistical plan survives and has the best chance of success.

#3 - Coach & Inspire to Improve. The military loves performance coaching because it recognizes that everyone can and will improve. In the military, performance coaching sessions occur every 30 to 60 days. A military member’s superior sits down in a private session and reviews the major events, the standards of performance, and how the military member performed against the standards. When an opportunity to improve is discovered, the superior and the military member together create a specific and actionable improvement plan to help the military member. Coaching is directly tied to improvement and helps managers at all levels develop their employees for promotions and improved performance towards logistics goals.