FORT LEE, Va. - Advanced individual training Soldiers enrolled in the Quartermaster School's 92-Alpha, Automated Logistical Specialist Course here will soon benefit from enhanced instruction designed to give them a leg up on using the Army's latest logistics information system.
Logistics Training Department administrators have revamped the Objective Supply Support Area segment of the course to better prepare 92A Soldiers to operate the Global Combat Support System-Army, the service's all-encompassing logistical, web-based software platform.
Implementation of the revised instruction is expected to begin the first week of July and be fully vetted by the end of October, said Kyle Montgomery Sr., division chief and course manager.
Master Sgt. Chivas Scott, 92A division noncommissioned officer in charge, said the new instruction takes a practical approach to teaching students how to effectively operate the system.
"The objective is to provide Soldiers with hands-on training and experience before they get to their units in the operational Army," she said. "It provides them the opportunity to learn, experience failures and recover from them, so when they are assigned to their units, there is no test or trial period for learning. They will have a complete understanding of the program and be ready to execute their missions."
According to its website, GCSS-A is a tactical logistics management information system that tracks supplies, spare parts and organizational equipment. It also tracks unit maintenance, costs and other financial transactions related to logistical operations. GCSS-A consolidated several management information systems in use prior to its inception.
A basic level of GCSS-A training is included in the existing 92A program of instruction, but it is limited, by large extent, to the type of training aids available, time allotted and available resources, said Scott. Changes to the instruction include a live-training database that mimics the system's real-world operation; the inclusion of warrant officers and noncommissioned officers in the training; and using the QM School's field training culmination exercise to enhance realism.
The culmination exercise, said Montgomery, is the point at which the stated changes will have the most dramatic and meaningful effect. NCOs from the Logistics NCO Academy and warrant officers from the Army Logistics University will join in the training to undertake their roles in an actual supply support area operation. AIT Soldiers will be required to perform scenario-based GCSS-A tasks - in line with instruction received in the sixth week of the nine-week course - but also gain additional knowledge from their superiors who will act as coaches and mentors.
"We're trying to bring up the level of knowledge the Soldier leaves here with to a level in which they have applicability," said Montgomery. "We want to allow them to use the system realistically and not have an NCO or warrant officer stand over them to make sure they operate the system correctly. Now, they would have done it prior to arriving at their units."
The course improvements are needed to help balance out the training qualifications within the 92A community, said Montgomery. The imbalance is due to GCSS-A's extensive fielding period that resulted in some Soldiers becoming advanced users while others only gained a baseline knowledge. The changes will not only serve to enhance the training experience for initial entry Soldiers, but also - through the presence of warrant officers - fill in the gaps for those inexperienced NCOs as well.
"This Objective SSA will provide them the opportunity to use the system in an environment where errors won't cost potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars or lost man-hours because a simple mistake is made," said Montgomery.
Furthermore, for all of its worth, the course enhancements will not add any additional hours to the 92A program of instruction, said Montgomery.
"The luxury we have is there are approximately 40 hours built into our POI for the quartermaster field training exercise," he said. "We can, along with the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade, control how much time is used for the technical and tactical segments. Our intent is to use some of the technical portion to do this culminating exercise so the Soldiers can get the additional training without adding any additional time to the POI."
Scott, who has extensive experience with GCSS-A, said the enhanced training will multiply the number of junior Soldiers who can competently carry out their missions.
"When many of these Soldiers leave AIT, they arrive at their units with little knowledge," she said. "As the NCO, you then have to spend time training that Soldier. If they get the training here - the basic knowledge and the opportunity to learn in a live training event - (leaders in the field) will only need to fine-tune their skills."
The 92A course graduates roughly 3,200 Soldiers annually. The Quartermaster School falls under the Combined Arms Support Command, which also helps to orchestrate the training programs for the Army Ordnance and Transportation branches, as well as the Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson, S.C., and other organizations.