Few items in maintenance management become more highlighted than the problems non-organic force structures play on maintenance operations and reporting during collective exercises such as those at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, California; Warrior Exercise (WAREX); Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX); and at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Modular task forces pose significant challenges to maintenance and logistics management that include access issues, common operating picture, and the Global Combat Support System-Army process.Logistics information systems are often built with hierarchy reflecting organic or home station alignments such as senior and subordinate positions within companies, battalions, and brigades. Modular units, when assembled into task forces for exercises, do not carry with them the functionality of the organic hierarchy. Currently, there is no existing method for moving the exercise units from their organic hierarchy to the modular task force hierarchy supporting the exercise. However, this capability does exist for deploying units, often through the use of a deployment unit identification code (UIC) and Department of Defense Activity Address Code (DODAAC), which is then filled by transferring personnel and equipment.The loss of hierarchical relationships in the training audience creates complications often not planned for or even foreseen.EXECUTION MANAGEMENT
Execution management is the approval process for automotive repair parts (class IX, supply), general supply (class II), and packaged petroleum products (class III, packaged) materials. The end user, or maintenance organization, creates a requisition in the work order process which then pends approval in ZPARK--the GCSS-Army command, or T-code--for accessing execution management. The execution manager--often in the organic brigade--or higher then must approve the requisition, transitioning it to a purchase order ready to be filled.With limited full-time support staff in many National Guard and Army Reserve units, execution managers are often not concurrently participating in the collective exercises. They may only process requests in execution management once or twice weekly. Units at NTC, for example, often must wait a minimum of 24 hours in an environment that changes sometimes hourly, if not daily for rotation units, before requisitions are approved. Home station senior units are unaware of the nature of the requisition, the necessity of the requisition, or the urgency needed. This is further exacerbated by limited communication between rear echelons and rotational units.SUPERVISORY RELATIONSHIPS
Within established unit hierarchies, equipment records processing clerks, maintenance managers, and maintenance supervisor positions are built along supervisory relationships that extend to a unit's higher headquarters. These supervisory relationships provide additional resources to offset unforeseen staff shortages, training, access approval, and staff assistance. This functionality is lost in the modular task force during collective training exercises. This results in increased delays, minimized in-process visibility, and frustrated overall maintenance management operations. While a common operating picture can be gained from maintenance sync meetings, it fails to address personnel losses due to injury (real or training), conflicting concurrent tasks, or other personnel shortages.These issues can frustrate unit maintenance operations and planning, from arrival at the training site to departure. Delays in execution management have directly impacted the ability of units to successfully repair prepositioned equipment at NTC and increases the workload at equipment containment sites (ECS) throughout multiple training arenas. Units find themselves with substantial backlog upon returning from collective exercises.POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
Remedies for these obstacles during training exercises need to be simplistic to minimize an unwieldy or complex application process and allow for easy reversal upon completion of the training event.Rotational units in collective exercises build and verify combat power through the reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (RSOI) process. During reception, units verify staffing, equipment density, and required provisions accounts, as they prepare to conduct their exercise missions. Building a remedy for integration in logistics information systems would naturally be a key element of the RSOI tasks and build off of current processes in the logistics information systems used, primarily GCSS-Army.Brainstorming possible solutions or methods to ensure the same functionality of exercise rotational units in training as operational environments yields three viable solutions:
• Units can be transferred from current operational hierarchy to training exercise hierarchy.
• Equipment and personnel only can be transferred to an exercise established hierarchy within the system.
• We can continue to mitigate the difficulties through ad hoc localized processes.Beginning with the first of the three solutions, transferring a UIC or DODAAC from the existing hierarchy to an exercise hierarchy requires modification through the same process as requesting a UIC. The process detailed in Army Regulation 220-1, Army Unit Status Reporting and Force Registration-Consolidated Policies, is lengthy and involves layers of analysis, verification, and approval. Such a complicated process would not be suitable for a 21-29 day training exercise task force.The second option still involves requesting DODAACs and UICs through the outline process in AR 220-1, but requires that the request only be submitted one time. Once the task force UIC and DODAAC are created, positions within each in GCSS-Army would be created along with a general hierarchy. Some UICs could be designated brigade headquarters or battalion headquarters, among other options. While task forces change based on unit functions and capabilities, the hierarchy relationship (brigades, battalions, etc.) within an exercise change very little from year-to-year. In general, CSTX has a fairly standardized exercise hierarchy when eliminating the personnel make up and operational function of each unit.Once constructed, each unit would have critical positions created relative to the unit's function within the exercise command hierarchy. Brigades would have property book officers and maintenance access managers; companies would have maintenance managers, supply sergeants, and equipment records clerks. All unts would have commander's representatives and, within a set position in the senior command levels, an execution manager would approve purchase requisitions within the exercise hierarchy.Units can then mass transfer into the exercise unit positions using the GCSS-Army Assignment Maintenance Workbench (ZAMW) during the RSOI process or during preparations leading to the exercise. Home station UICs, exercise equipment yards (prepositioned stock), and ECSs would then use the equipment loan process to temporarily move equipment into the exercise unit's storage locations (SLocs). Each of these actions are easily reversible and the rotational unit can be restored during a single day of out-processing concurrent with other theater exit tasks.In addition to increased logistics visibility during the exercise, this reduces supply expenditures to strictly those in support of the exercise, reducing the tendency of units to "stock up" courtesy of exercise directed funds. Similar to NTC's regeneration, all exercises would purge the exercise unit's pending authorizations and requisitions prior to leaving theater. For those units who fail to execute this task, the exercise DODAACs would only be linked to the physical location of the exercise.This plan would require establishment and manning of an exercise shipping and receiving point which would include timely shipments to unit forward positions. In some exercises, these processes are largely simulated. This would bring those exercises more in line with the NTC training strategy of supporting forward supply and maintenance requirements with Soldiers requiring the hands-on training in warehouse functions, and those integrated into logistics trains between cantonment and forward operations.Finally, the third plan must also be discussed. Units currently use ad-hoc methods to overcome the lack of exercise logistics visibility, reachbacks to rear execution management, and strict "kill or fill" class IX and class III (P) exercise policies. Units historically have developed processes and briefing products while 'on ground' during exercises to address the realities of limited visibility. These products often require additional preparation time and prolong logistics synchronization (LOGSYNC) briefing and maintenance meetings, including information readily available to higher headquarters of organic unit hierarchies.But as units have adjusted to be effective, there is still minimal class IX support in WAREX and CSTX. The current process prolongs prepositioned stock turn-in at both JTC and NTC. The delays, particularly for the Active duty training centers, result in maintenance failures that increase contracting costs through penalties. With proper visibility, projections are easier to manage, as well as estimations of completion glide paths or determinations of accruing backlog.CONCLUSIONIncreasing the efficiency of maintenance during collective exercises will pay dividends by developing and exercising processes that can translate to the operational environment. Currently, one missing piece of the training value provided is the lack of connection between how the operational environment is designed to operate and how the training environment operates. A solution must be found for the modular task force, execution management, and higher echelon maintenance forecasting.--------------------
Master Sgt. Arnold Olson has served in the Ordnance Corps for nearly 18 years. His military experience includes a variety of duty positions from squad leader to G-4 maintenance noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) for 7th Mission Support Command, Army Reserve Europe. He has been key in the transition of the legacy logistics information system to GCSS-Army in capacities from execution management, maintenance management, and maintenance control. Olson holds a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies degree. He has completed the Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Course, Airborne School, GCSS-Army transition course, and graduated all NCO Education System courses through the Senior Leader Course. He is currently serving as the S-4 NCOIC, Maintenance Management NCO, at 314th Combat Service Sustainment Battalion, 311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, in Las Vegas, Nevada.