The quartermaster is a military description of a person who is responsible for all types of supplies, including arms and food. In some cases, this individual may also be responsible for various navigation efforts, if part of the coast guard or navy. The quartermaster is generally an officer, though some of the duties may be designated to enlisted personnel who are under supervision of an officer.
From the aspect of the army, the quartermaster keeps most of the supplies. If supplies are running low, then this individual is often responsible for ordering more provisions, and doing so in a timely manner. Thus, the quartermaster's job is very important to the normal daily operations of a military unit. If supplies run too short, a mission may be in jeopardy or training could be at risk.
One of the primary responsibilities of the quartermaster is to keep track of all inventory. Some quartermasters may be responsible for certain areas, such as food, ammunition, or other supplies. Much of the time will be spent tracking inventory, determining how quickly supplies are being used, and when they may need to be replenished. It is up to the quartermaster to understand what the situation may be and know when inventory is likely to be depleted based on a set of circumstances, which could change rapidly.
In the navy, quartermasters have a slightly different job. Though there may be some who are in charge of inventory and supplies, some will aid in navigation. They will do this by communicating with other ships, and determining which routes to take, especially in the crowded confines of bays and other areas where there is little open water. This person is responsible for making sure the ship stays safe and does not collide with other ships or run aground.
The training for the army position includes completing the Quartermaster Officer Basic Course. This will help the individual develop qualities of leadership and authority, as well as provide inventory and accounting skills. Those in this course will also learn the basic operations of the different vehicles and weapons used in the military unit.
Those who have mastered the skills of an officer in this capacity may eventually be promoted to the rank of a quartermaster captain. This individual is responsible for handling company-sized units, which generally consists of 200 to 300 soldiers. Like any other administrator, this individual is responsible for making all hires or appointments in his or her area of expertise. This position is generally regarded as a career position, though there may be other opportunities for advancement.