FORT KNOX, Kentucky -- The Army's new Automated Meal Card Management System, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2018, is not new to Fort Knox.
When first learning of the Army's plans to implement a system that replaces paper meal cards and Soldier signatures as authorization for troops to eat at Army dining facilities with the use of Common Access Cards, Fort Knox Logistical Readiness Center Director Mike Lineberger said he wanted to be a part of it. He also wanted Fort Knox to be one of the first to implement the changes.
"I understood there would be some difficulties with the new system, but I wanted them to work out the difficulties here and now rather than getting the program later on," Lineberger said. "I'd rather the contractors and installers came [during the trial] when I know there'll be some problems, but I knew they'd stay and sort them out before they'd distribute it to the other installations. I thought I'd get a better product and get ahead of the ballgame."
Lineberger's intuition turned out to be right.
"We've actually been using the system here for about two years now, though not everyone here at Knox [has] had their [Common Access] cards converted, yet," Lineberger said. "Everyone was supposed to validate last year, but there was a stay of execution and the due date was extended to this year. We didn't need the delay. We were already there."
Because Fort Knox typically sees so many different trainees from units that converted their Soldiers' cards before sending them to training, Lineberger said he knew the process worked before most home-station Soldiers had been inputted into the new system.
"We do a lot of training here with Soldiers coming from other installations. [Many of] their [personnel offices] already converted, and we were able to validate using [the trainees they sent,]" said Lineberger. "That's how we learned the machines worked the whole time."
When it comes to food service, Lineberger said they receive their fair share of complaints, but the complaints so far haven't included the new system.
"There were a few hiccups when we first started out. There have always been and will always be complaints about [food] -- there was in my day, too -- but we have yet to hear a complaint about the actual operation of the automated system itself," Lineberger said. "Soldiers may have to see their S1 or the S1 may need to get on the authorization system to input Soldiers, but that's an individual problem and no fault of the system. It's a good system. It will have to mature a little bit to catch all the bugs, but I think it will only get better.
"Eventually, it will be an excellent system."