COMSEC Reset mission exceeds 100,000 items
October 8, 2008
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Employees in COMSEC have Reset over 100,000 communication items since 2004.
As of March (when the 100,000th item arrived at the depot), personnel in the Communications Security Division (COMSEC) have added over 4,000 more items to the list. The division is part of the Communications Systems Directorate.
For an item to constitute as Reset, it must be restored to combat capability, based on established maintenance standards. Also, it must be an "end item," meaning that it is a complete system, not a component of a system.
Some of the Reset items include electronic encryption equipment such as the KOI-18, a hand-held, battery operated paper tape reader that converts the tape into an electronic format for use by other devices. The KOI-18 was the device technicians were working on when they broke the Reset item record. Also included is the KY-100, a self-contained terminal that allows for secure voice and data communications in tactical airborne/ground settings, and the KG-175, which provides security for users who communicate over networks such as the Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET).
The program began in fiscal year 2004 as a result of division personnel seeking Reset assets through the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) Process. ARFORGEN is used to manage processes such as Reset and ensure the ability to support demands for Army forces.
COMSEC personnel employ a direct exchange plan. When an item is in need of Reset, it is turned in, and depot personnel issue a restored item. The one-for-one exchange automatically replaces the warfighter\'s item, eliminating the time that it takes for an item to be returned, says Mark Costello, chief of the division's Support Services Branch.
If COMSEC does not have an item in stock to exchange, they will repair and return the item. Technicians have a 60-day window to repair and return items to units.
Costello explains that the Reset program in COMSEC is serial controlled, meaning that every item is tracked by serial number, using a database.
The database began as a hardcopy of a spreadsheet that tracked transitions. Personnel in COMSEC upgraded in 2005 by converting to an electronic tracking system. The following fiscal year, COMSEC improved the program by expanding the reporting data to include the wait time of the item prior to movement through the repair cycle.
By fiscal year 2007, personnel in the shipping department began entering tracking numbers directly into the database. Personnel also began an electronic audit of every transaction and of the work being performed. This eliminated the time it took to perform an audit of the manual paperwork.
"Employees here do an outstanding job. They've been involved and provide feedback through in-process reviews, refined processes and employee meetings," says Costello. By December 2007 the information maintained in the COMSEC database was uploaded to the U.S. Army CECOM Lifecycle Management Command's tracking database for global visibility of Reset transactions.
"People get involved and come up with ideas, which continuously improve the process," says Stephen Waak, an electronics mechanic in the division. He was a member of the first Reset team in 2004 and notes that the process continues to improve due to employee involvement.
A technician verifies each serial number when it comes in the door. Items are placed in a container that houses 10 items. After that, the item information is used to create the shipping document that pertains to the entire container. The items are Reset and the document is used to verify the quantity and serial numbers of the contents of the container. Items are then placed into storage until they are needed for direct exchange.
"The process is a well organized system and a very smooth operation," says John Mowatt, a materials handler leader in the division.
Once COMSEC receives a list of what a unit needs for Reset, employees will travel to the military base and perform the direct exchange. A team of at least three people; a lead, assistant lead and packer, is formed for each trip. Teams have traveled to installations such as Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Campbell, Ky., Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Stewart, Ga. The team boxes the restored items they will be exchanging and a supply box that consists of items such as extra boxes (for the returned items), a printer and copier. "We bring everything we need to complete all documentation," says Mowatt.
Employees have streamlined the process and applied Lean initiatives to the program, says Costello. By improving the process, equipment gets to the warfighter timely and efficiently.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the largest full-service Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) maintenance and logistics support facility in the Department of Defense. Employees repair, overhaul and fabricate electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network.
Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces. The depot is the Army Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITE) for Communications-Electronics, Avionics, and Missile Guidance and Control Systems and the Air Force Technology Repair Center (TRC) for ground communications and electronics.
About 5,800 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control, computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.