Logistical support is a key element that allows armies to win wars, said the new commander of a sustainment battalion with the 4th Armored Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bliss, Texas.
"My opinion is, and this is based on historical study, from Alexander the Great to Napoleon to any of the world wars, they have all been won by strategic logistics," said Lt. Col. Brian S. Olson, who took over as commander of the 123rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Armored Brigade on May 21.
Olson, a 39-year-old native of Newport News, Virginia, leads a 500-soldier battalion whose job is to provide logistical support to the rest of the brigade.
"We provide all the supplies, the distribution of the supplies, transportation, medical support and maintenance of equipment to the brigade," Olson said.
The battalion has a headquarters company, a distribution company, a specialized maintenance company that works on things like missiles and generators and a medical company.
"Like in (U.S. Grant's) Wilderness campaign: A soldier marches on his stomach," Olson said. "Once they get hungry or run out of fuel, they aren't going very far. The art of military command and sustainment is the fine line of how fast can I go and how far and still have my logistics tail able to take care of me."
Olson said he will focus on taking care of soldiers and their families, which means providing effective training so they can be "good soldiers first, take care of one another, stay alive and get home to their families." He also wants to make sure they can do their primary mission, which is sustaining the brigade.
"What we do is not a one-man job," Olson said. "We do it as a team."
Olson has never been stationed at Fort Bliss before but has been impressed so far, especially by the strong ties between the El Paso community and the installation. The battalion he inherits has done more than 2,300 volunteer hours this school year in the Partners in Education program.
Olson replaced Lt. Col. James J. Godfrey, who will become the 1st Armored Division's logistics officer.
Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin L. Zites, of Yakima, Wash., has been the unit's top senior enlisted soldier since January. Zites said he is excited to be a part of a new command team and that his personality meshes well with Olson. "As the command team, we need to be on the same sheet of music," he said.
Lt. Col. Brian S. Olson
Previous assignment: Developing doctrine for the Joint Staff in Hampton Roads, Va.
Education: Bachelor's degree in psychology from Virginia Tech; master's degree in business administration from St. Martin's University; master's in military arts and science from the Command and General Staff College.
Awards: Bronze Star (two oak leaf clusters); Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal (one oak leaf cluster); Air Force Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal (one oak leaf cluster); Army Achievement Medal (one oak leaf cluster).
Family: Married to Rachel, originally from Huntington, Texas. Children: Luke, 8; and Ethan, 7.