November 6, 2014 --
Maj. Gen. John J. Broadmeadow, commanding general, Marine Corps Logistics Command, hosted an informative and impactful professional military education event recently at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Kennesaw, Georgia.
More than 50 LOGCOM Marines participated in the event, which was led by the park’s own retired historian and designated tour guide, Willie “Swampy” Johnson. Marine-led discussions were also part of the PME, and involved a number of the staff noncommissioned officers and officers in attendance.
The study of history, leadership and military decision making was a valuable part of this event, but actually walking the battleground and experiencing the environment where the stories of the Atlanta Campaign took place were most appreciated.
LOGCOM Headquarters personnel are fortunate to be located near an area that is so rich in history, allowing the commanding general to take advantage of the close proximity.
The educational experience of the PME was enhanced by the wisdom and experience of Johnson, who served as the park’s historian and tour guide for more than 40 years. His historical knowledge, combined with his experience as a former teacher within the city of Marietta’s School District, provided an exceptionally led and well facilitated tour of the park.
The SNCOs and officers in attendance will be able to draw upon lessons learned from this event and apply them to both today’s Marine Corps and, in particular, LOGCOM’s operational mission.
According to 1st Sgt. Marshall Gregg, Headquarters Company first sergeant, PMEs such as this are an important part of the development of today’s leaders.
“Learning our past not only gives us an appreciation of how we made it to where we are now, but also serves as a model of best and worst practices and lessons learned that we can still apply today,” Gregg said. “The Atlanta campaign is a perfect example of how actions at the tactical and operational levels can have a drastic effect on the strategic level of warfare. The struggles that each side continually overcame, in regard to logistical support to the front lines, serves as a reminder that our mission at LOGCOM is ever important to the overall outcome of achieving our organizational and national goals.”
His belief was that “everyone walked away from the PME with a deeper appreciation of our history, our present situation, and our potential future as a nation and a Marine Corps.”
Lt. Col. Jason Janczak, Logistics Services Management Center Deputy Director, found it profound to think what would have happened had there been a negotiated truce.
He questioned, “had there been a negotiated peace, what course would Europe have taken? Would World War I still have occurred? Would it have been bloodier? How long would the South remain impoverished after the war? What does North America look like today if the South and North were recognized as two different countries? The victory at Kennesaw and the subsequent surrender at Appomattox literally changed the course of the world.”
Janczak admitted that he was stunned when he saw from the last vantage point on the tour just how close the fighting was to Atlanta.
He further stated, “while it would be tough to lose a battle that was part of a larger campaign, every Confederate soldier fought all the more harder during the battle at Kennesaw knowing that if they failed, the Confederacy and all it represented would fail alongside it.”
For Maj. Eric Henzler, who serves as an operations research analyst in the Logistics Capabilities Center, the trip reconfirmed his theory of “Mastering your Craft.”
During the Atlanta Campaign, both the Confederate and Union artillerymen worked in teams of five to six men to operate the various cannons employed during battles. These teams underwent painstaking rehearsals, each man mastering the skills required for each position of the cannon team in order to enhance his overall proficiency of operation and to increase his rate of fire.
Placing such mastery in the context of the current-day logistician, Henzler said, “We must all seek to master our logistics area of expertise and be perpetually cognizant of both gaps in our own knowledge and opportunities to expand our experience level. By improving ourselves and taking the time to educate others, we eliminate single points of failure within the organization and are well poised to quickly and effectively assume additional or higher level responsibilities as the situation requires.”
Studying the Atlanta Campaign taught LOGCOM Marines that leaders at all levels need to be able to perform their own critical analysis of complex situations, make timely and accurate decisions, take the initiative and maintain momentum once it is realized.
This PME allowed both SNCOs and officers to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the lessons available through the study of history by actually walking the grounds where history was made.