A monthly division maintenance meeting is a daunting endeavor for those involved. Often relying on bottom-up reporting, Soldiers in the Division G-4 cell consolidate information to brief leadership on the trends, challenges, and shared victories of providing combat power for operations. At the National Training Center, the Goldminer Team has developed a method for quickly providing a combat slant dashboard based on information collected from the Global Combat Support System — Army (GCSS-A). Using a spreadsheet and a Visual Basic for Applications macro, the team provides feedback for after-action reviews on combat power available. This process is available at multiple echelons, providing the knowledge and training of those executing the process is to standard.
At first glance, some find GCSS-A a confusing system of reporting. Many Soldiers and civilians associated with the system would beg to differ. Once a process is established, using GCSS-A to quickly determine combat power based on the equipment status report (ESR) is a simple and effective procedure. Support operations officer, retired Maj. Jerod Farkas developed this method after having to provide the combat power for a brigade in a timely manner while reducing the need to review the ESR line by line to determine accurate information. With additional Soldiers from the team, several of the Goldminers trained in the method, which has now become institutional knowledge, codified in how-to guides. The team uses line item numbers (LINs), ESRs given particular unit identification codes (UICs), and spreadsheets to show combat power for brigades and specific battalions daily. Given these reports, subject matter expertise, and an ability to dive deeply into specific topics, the team displays trends and focuses on intricate maintenance challenges.
With the process solidified, it became apparent this procedure could be applied to organizations at varying echelons. Using the web-based Force Management System (FMS) and the Display Equipment Status report from GCSS-A, it is possible to build a dashboard for both large and small levels of organizations of the Army.
The first step is to utilize FMS to research the UICs of the organization for the dashboard. While battalions have 4 to 10 UICs, brigades typically have approximately 40 UICs. Once the UIC list is compiled, GCSS-A allows variants to be built that limit the equipment reports to pacing items or specific types of equipment to manage the data set. Using the UIC’s first four alphanumeric characters, anyone with the appropriate GCSS-A access can pull the equipment list for a unit. When the equipment lists are pulled for an organization, the most efficient way to manage the data is a scrub to ensure only the most pertinent LINs are selected. This information is the base for the dashboard and is placed in a spreadsheet as a reference for the dashboard’s formulas.
The next step is to build a UIC hierarchy in GCSS-A in the ESR transaction code. From the previous information pulls, a GCSS-A user can also input the LINs that are being evaluated for fully mission capable and non-mission capable equipment. Once the report is built, the template is saved as a GCSS-A variant, allowing it to be referenced and executed much faster. Upon pulling the ESR, the data is exported to a spreadsheet by GCSS-A, allowing all the data to be compiled in one file.
The basis for the dashboard is now complete. When the LINs are organized by warfighting function, it is simply copying and pasting the data into the dashboard for the type of equipment that the spreadsheet counts. The varying columns are given SUMIFS and COUNTIFS formulas to count the number of instances in the separate tabs and calculate operational readiness rate percentages based on the derived numbers.
While setting up the division dashboard is a meticulous process, once the dashboard is created, maintaining it is simple. Executing the dashboard typically can be done in a matter of minutes as opposed to the hours it takes to go through the ESRs of each subordinate unit. This effort allows division leaders to see their organization quickly and effectively while allowing the subordinate units to execute the deep dives needed to justify challenges and identify specific areas for the division to invest time and energy to provide assistance.
Maj. Benjamin F. Hardy currently serves as the Goldminer training analysis feedback facility battle staff observer/coach/trainer for the National Training Center operations group at Fort Irwin, California. Hardy has served as a battalion executive officer, assistant professor of military science, brigade assistant S-3, company commander, company executive officer, and distribution platoon leader. He has a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and has completed the Transportation Basic Officer Leadership Course, the Logistics Captain’s Career Course, and the Intermediate Level Education Course.
This content is published online in conjunction with the Winter 23 issue of Army Sustainment.