ARLINGTON, Va. - All 54 states and territories of the Army National Guard (ARNG) crossed a critical milestone for the deployment of IPPS-A this week by completing an Army Organization Server Data Interface (AOS-DI) initial database load ahead of schedule on 25 May 2018 at Arlington, Va. The AOS-DI database is an essential force management tool that will be used by ARNG Force Managers and Human Resource Professionals to provide both unit hierarchy and Soldier duty position information to the IPPS-A.

"This was the initial step - a critical, no fail step," said CW4 Troy Skaggs, a member of the IPPS-A ARNG liaison team and lead for the AOS-DI database load effort. "Without valid force structure data, IPPS-A doesn't work." He further described the database as the backbone of a skeleton, with the IPPS-A system and future talent management capabilities forming the "muscle on the bone."

AOS-DI is driven by force management concepts and presents a new way of managing force structure over the familiar paragraph and line numbers from the current Modified Table of Organizational Equipment (MTOE) concept. Under pre-IPPS-A systems, HR Soldiers compile information from Force Integration Readiness Officers (FIRO) and upload it manually into the Standard Installation and Division Personnel Reporting System (SIDPERS). After the AOS-DI, FIROs will be more active, partnering with HR Professionals who will perform less data entry. IPPS-A's database will give FIRO's the ability to actively manage their State's force structure on a daily basis if need be.

"When you hear 'I have to scrub the State's MTOEs and TDA's, it's like going to the dentist for some people - they cringe at the thought," said CW4 Skaggs. "Force Management is going to be an active process for the G3 (Force Planners) and G1 (Human Resources). They're going to work together more closely than ever before. It will provide enormous flexibility that we don't enjoy today."

Said one Force Manager Soldier of the new system: "I'm going to be in it every day."

Soldiers from Maine and New York - part of the first ARNG fielding group - used the AOS-DI system's IPPS-A Interface to take their existing data and build a force structure model for their states.

"It's been lots of work up front, but will make the transition to IPPS-A much easier," said CW3 Kelly Fancher, New York Army National Guard, Joint Force Headquarters. "We work hand-in-hand with our FIRO's. We're optimistic...our Soldiers back home are optimistic."

One of the next phases of IPPS-A is to import the AOS-DI force management data and populate all duty positions with IPPS-A Soldier records, employing a test strategy called "faces to spaces". This exercise is designed to properly align Soldiers with assigned duties positions, which will be uploaded from the current personnel system-SIDPERS-during the transition between the two systems.

"Talent Management will be the culminating fruit of our labor," said CW4 Skaggs talking about IPPS-A's long-range plans. "The Army can finally move beyond a mere 'faces-to-spaces' manning model that is used to simply fill a vacancy with whomever is available and start examining the salient human dimensions of the talent pool to assign, develop, and manage Soldiers. HR managers who are savvy with both force structure and human resources objectives can predict how, when, why, and in what developmental duty assignments a Soldier needs to gain experience in as they develop professionally and personally throughout their continuum of service."

By better understanding the talent of the workforce, the Army can maximize Soldier talents to allow the placement of the right Soldier, in the right job, at the right time. IPPS-A will provide enhanced decision-making capabilities to commanders at all levels, facilitate readiness for deploying units, and enhance the ability of the Director, ARNG to manage talent within the full-time Title 10 program.

"There's been no push back, said Skaggs, everyone who comes through says 'I'm so glad I came.' The flash-to-bang ratio in AOS-DI development is nothing short of remarkable. In less than a year AOS-DI developers have produced a force management tool that is flexible, responsible, and very intuitive with novices flying through the initial load process with minimal over the shoulder assistance." he added.

Force Integration Readiness Officer, CW4 Greg Kratochwill, Oklahoma Army National Guard, Joint Force Headquarters, described his experience as 'fantastic.'

"We're putting into practice something that's been talked about for years. Now I can pour energy into supporting efforts at the state level," said CW4 Kratchowill. "There's been an enormous amount of thought put into creating the Army Organization System - merging the G1 and G3 worlds."