By Dan Lafontaine, PEO C3T Public AffairsApril 5, 2017
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Ensuring that Soldiers have sufficient training on tactical network systems at their home installations before deployment is imperative to readiness, according to senior Army officials.
The Home Station Training Initiative, known as HSTI, began last year to provide Soldiers with the right materials to train effectively at the right time. This will ensure they receive the proper amount of training to operate, maintain and troubleshoot the systems.
The Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) has partnered with Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) on the effort.
HSTI is critical when Soldiers must quickly become proficient on newly fielded radio, mission-command and tactical network systems, said Brig. Gen. Karl Gingrich, assistant program executive officer for operations, readiness and fielding at PEO C3T. Well-trained Soldiers will also help the Army to reduce its reliance on contracted logistical support to achieve time and cost savings.
"We are producing complex network solutions to keep up with technology," Gingrich said. "A lot of people don't realize that our formations are still busy; they're still deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers simply are not getting enough repetitions on the systems that we are fielding. HSTI is trying to fill that niche."
Gingrich joined Larry Muzzelo, CECOM's executive deputy to the commanding general, to discuss HSTI at an AUSA Global Force Symposium's Warriors Corner in Huntsville, Alabama, March 13.
"HSTI is not new training; it is a new way to present the existing training menu for ease of utilization and maximization of resources," Muzzelo said. "While there are multiple avenues for C4ISR training at most installations, units are not aware of many of them and the training providers are typically not synchronized with each other to accommodate each unit's unique training requirements."
CECOM operates 12 sustainment universities that have trained more than 3,700 students on command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) programs and certifications since October 2016. Additionally, CECOM logistics assistance representatives have provided formal and over-the-shoulder training to more than 7,000 Soldiers.
One of HSTI's goals is to enable successful unit rotations at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, while reducing the number of trouble tickets that Soldiers submit.
"Units are provided feedback after exercises on what systems see the most requests for field-support assistance, and then the unit is shown how to get training support for their personnel from the training providers available to them," Muzzelo said. "Unit command emphasis on training at home station continues to be a barometer of success."
HSTI efforts have been established at division and brigade locations for the 82nd Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division and 10th Mountain Division. HSTI supported the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division's deployment to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
"The key is repetitions so we can build that Soldier skillset," Gingrich said. "There is a responsibility on the vendor side as well. We have to get rid of complexity. Soldiers today have a cell-phone mentality. How many people download an app onto your phone and then read a 50-page technical manual on how to use it? Nobody does."
The Army has to ensure readiness one way or the other -- either by providing a less complex system on the front end of the acquisition cycle or at the end of the process as Soldiers try to overcome complex fielded systems though training courses, Gingrich said.
"CECOM and PEO C3T are partnered to try to attack this from both directions -- what we've fielded today through HSTI and what we're fielding in the future to engineer out all that complexity and make it simple for our Soldiers," he said.
PEO C3T develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army's mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army's joint, coalition and other mission partners.