Reverse Logistics is Forwarding Thinking
This is a courtesy post for American Public University and American Military University. DAU will occasionally publish content provided by our strategic and academic partners.
When U.S. Forces in Iraq lowered the Stars and Stripes in Baghdad 9 years ago, the ceremony officially curtained the war. This also triggered the largest reverse logistics mission since the Gulf War as part of Operation New Dawn. However, long after Soldiers returned home, the U.S. Army remained to tackle an extraordinary challenge. They dismantled infrastructure spanning 24 core bases and hundreds of outposts throughout Iraq—determining what equipment was reusable, and transported it stateside or to other regions abroad. The timeframe for completing that drawdown of millions of equipment assets accumulated over a decade of conflict was unprecedented and many valuable lessons were learned which inform the methodologies we use today. Military and Federal logisticians are using and perfecting those reverse logistics principles to optimize the entire logistics discipline.
“Reverse logistics is not a niche market,” Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth, American Public University System (APUS) transportation and logistics professor and founding Director of the Army’s Artificial Intelligence Center of Logistics, said. “The United States, and particularly the U.S. Army, are world-class logistics leaders. It’s an exciting time because the lessons learned benefit everything under the transportation and logistics management umbrella.”
From top brass to business executives, reverse logistics methodologies anchor new strategies as leaders collaborate with logisticians to find value in their existing inventory and backflow of goods and services.
Reverse logistics management is being taught online at American Public University and American Military University, which are part of American Public University System.
“I believe the attraction to the reverse logistics curriculum is in response to a resurgence of leadership directives to recapture more value,” Dr. Hedgepeth said. “Reverse logistics is teaching our students and their organizations how to take an expense and change it into revenue.”
The curriculum is benchmarked and guided by industry advisory councils that comprise some of the most experienced leaders in the field. Students are exposed to relevant information and emerging technology that drives the industry. Faculty members are expert logisticians, including many who mastered their craft while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and Federal agencies. In fact, military, government, and business logisticians have a longstanding, collaborative relationship that benefits higher education and, in turn, the entire discipline as it is continually practiced and optimized in the field.
“People like General William Tuttle, Jr., former Army Material Command leader, spurred the growth and development of artificial intelligence and smart software, which promoted the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags in cargo tracking. In the early 2000s, the Defense Department and major global retailers together launched an initiative to use passive RFID tags on all palettes of major suppliers. Today, we have global in-transit visibility and we’re teaching our students how best to utilize it. Imagine 300 million items moving along a big spider web around the world right now. If I want to reach out touch one of those items I can. Now imagine what new innovations are on the horizon,” Dr. Hedgepeth said. “Reverse logistics is the result of that forward thinking.”