Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
After more than 80 Command and General Staff Officer Course students embarked on the journey of the Master Sustainer competition in early 2021, Maj. Avraham (Avi) Behar triumphed as the recipient of the Major General James M. Wright Distinguished Master Sustainer Award for the CGSOC class of 2021.
“(Winning), it’s a surreal experience … I put so much work into this and was really, really committed to it, and it’s humbling because the entire experience made me realize how much I didn’t know, how much I have yet to know and how much room there is left to grow,” Behar said. “I consider myself fully committed to the profession of arms and being a professional logistics officer.
“I know that the Army’s ability to fight and win often hinges on its ability to sustain forces logistically. I’ve seen firsthand the implications of proper sustainment in terms of the impacts on our soldiers, and I feel like I owe it to the Army and to myself to try to be the best that I can be,” he said. “The more I can improve myself, the more I can improve my organization. … Hopefully that can resonate and improve my subordinates and that sphere of influence will continue to grow.”
The Master Sustainer Award, formerly the Master Logistician Award, was established in 1983. The award was formerly called the Master Logistician Award before the Department of Sustainment and Force Management renamed it the Master Sustainer Award in June 2020.
“We changed the name of the award the same time we changed the name of the department. Sustainment comprises not only logistics, but also personnel services, finance and comptroller services, and medical services. … (The new name) better reflects the totality of what we teach,” said Paul Schlimm, acting director of the CGSC Department of Sustainment and Force Management. “It only made sense to update the name of the award as well. Both now reflect all the functions of sustainment we educate our students in. Logistics is just one function among many that professional sustainers need to know.”
The competition consisted of three phases. During the first phase, the competitors took a written examination that encompassed a wide range of subjects, including corps logistics and financial management operations.
“The mental stamina to take a four-hour test (is demanding),” Behar said.
The second phase brought the top eight candidates in front of a board, whose members asked a series of scenario-based sustainment questions.
“The board was challenging because there’s a lot of uncertainty to it,” Behar said. “There’s no instructions on what you’re going to talk about. You have to be prepared to discuss everything.”
In the third and final phase, the top four finalists have one week to prepare a two-hour oral presentation to a board of senior sustainers. Finalists were given a scenario of a joint task force deployed to west Africa as part of the U.S. European Command to combat growing terrorist and extremist threats, Behar said, and they had to provide analysis, “deploy the troops” and prepare a concept of sustainment for a six-to-nine-month deployment.
“When I started looking at this, I thought to myself, ‘I need to revisit some of our history lessons, so what helped me set the framework right was to relook at some of the case studies for how we established and analyzed the theater during the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom in terms of contracting, capabilities and which considerations should be there,” Behar said.
Scott Martin, CGSC Department of Sustainment and Force Management assistant professor and competition phase three coordinator, said the final phase is highly competitive.
“The final phase of the Master Sustainer Award is a highly competitive and rigorous seven-day process for the four finalists to plan and brief a theater concept of support,” Martin said. “Major Behar’s detailed planning analysis and presentation to the five Department of Sustainment and Force Management faculty board members demonstrated his mastery of the Army sustainment capabilities required for a division-level operation in an immature theater.”
After graduation, Behar will serve as a support operations officer for an Army Field Support Battalion in Fort Hood, Texas.