Optimizing sustainment operations through modernization

By Command Sgt. Maj. Cedric D. HarveyMay 20, 2024

Hand-Held Terminal utilization
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Army Sustainment University’s Sustainment Automation Support Management Office and the Logistics Training Department provides training on the Held-Held Terminal aimed to close education gaps and provide 3rd Infantry Division leaders with the latest hardware and software information to properly employ and utilize the systems in garrison and in combat operational environments. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Maj. Shelia Fourman) VIEW ORIGINAL
Hand-Held Terminal utilization
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Army Sustainment University’s Sustainment Automation Support Management Office and the Logistics Training Department provides training on the Held-Held Terminal aimed to close education gaps and provide 3rd Infantry Division leaders with the latest hardware and software information to properly employ and utilize the systems in garrison and in combat operational environments. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Maj. Shelia Fourman) VIEW ORIGINAL
Hand-Held Terminal utilization
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sgt. 1st Class Shania Wilson, Logistics Training Department, Army Sustainment University, explains the Held-Held Terminal to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ameen Hudson and Sgt. 1st Class Kenya Nesbit, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia, during the HHT training. The training allowed logistics professionals serving in command or as middle managers who lacked education and knowledge of how to operate HHTs, which provide a user-friendly automated inventory solution for Soldiers to expedite the inventory process. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Maj. Shelia Fourman) VIEW ORIGINAL
Educating sustainers on evolving technologies while enhancing organizational readiness though the utilization of Hand-Held Terminals

Over the past year, the 3rd Infantry Division has been modernizing its Armored Brigade Combat Teams and sustainment formations in preparation for Large-scale combat operations against a peer threat across a multi-domain environment. As we look at our Soldiers and build readiness for the Army of 2030 and 2040 through the modernization process, the Marne Division has been taking a holistic view of its sustainment operations and capabilities. Through evolving technologies while using data- decision making solutions the division was reviewing ways to increase velocity and throughput of materiel within its Tactical Supply Support Activities at the brigade level.

In September 2022, staff from 3rd ID G4 identified significant education gaps among its sustainment officers, warrant officers and noncommissioned officers serving as middle managers on emerging technologies and capabilities of critical sustainment systems. One of the knowledge gaps identified was centered around the rare utilization of the Global Combat Support System -Army’s Hand-Held Terminals within its company, troop, battery supply rooms, and maintenance sections who received materiel from the division’s TSSAs. The division staff also identified training gaps within command maintenance evaluation and training team, or COMET, who are responsible for facilitating sustainment training for logistics Soldiers at the installation troop school, where they discovered there was no formal program of instruction developed to teach sustainers on evolving capabilities regarding the utilization of the GCSS-Army HHT.

Our Army’s sustainment community must develop multifunctional logistics officers and NCOs who are able to meet the demands of combatant commanders in dynamic multi-domain operational environments. Achieving this requires our Army’s logistics officers, warrant officers, and NCOs to capitalize on employing sustainment data information systems to their fullest extent to ensure freedom of action, extended operational reach, and prolonged endurance necessary to accomplish mission, consolidate gains, and win our nations wars. Arming our officers, WOs, and NCOs with the latest information on these systems, leads to efficient productivity and throughput of materiel within our tactical formations while increasing organizational readiness. Officers, WOs and NCOs in command and middle managers positions lacking adequate education on their assigned equipment can lead to an absence of essential expertise at the management level when our sustainers aren’t utilizing GCSS-Army HHTs in tactical formations in support of division, corps and theater level operations. Sustainment professionals understanding the full capabilities of GCSS-Army HHTs can reduce the improper usage of the device with the Very Small Aperture Terminal and Combat Service Support Automated Information Systems network at various TSSAs while operating in garrison and austere field environments, thus providing materiel to the forward edge of the battlefield during LSCO.

Using data analysis and visualization through metrics to measure trends across the formation, 3rd ID’s recognized the importance of its technical experts in the WO career field and Quartermaster NCOs serving as Automated Logistics Specialist (92A) and Unit Supply Specialist (92Y) military occupation specialties at the middle management level must have suitable training on individual and collective capabilities the Army’s resourced to them with the GCSS-Army HHT. Moreover, the data collected by the 3rd ID G4 and Division Sustainment Brigade’s Support Operations highlighted the importance of leaders having adequate training on systems to improve the initial pick up of materiel and supplies at TSSAs. Utilization of these systems would substantially reduce high customer wait times for post goods receipts of materiel from the TSSA, along with the proper management and accountability of materiel at the unit level further impacting the brigade’s readiness.

Operating and generating force collaboration

The Army’s WO and NCO Corps provides commanders with the technical expertise and essential knowledge to conduct sustainment operations during LSCO.

Proficiency on sustainment tasks begin in the garrison environment through logisticians in the WO and NCO cohort. Sustainment leaders must possess the technical proficiency to employ systems, digital capabilities, and possess the ability to analyze data for commanders to make informed decisions regarding sustainment during critical operations, which impacts an organization’s command supply discipline programs and command maintenance discipline programs. Once the division staff identified significant training gaps following the U.S. Army Forces Command Ground, Readiness, Evaluation, Assessment, and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) inspection, and using metrics from data, personnel from the division G4 and DSB SPO’s general supply office traveled to Fort Gregg-Adams, Virginia to observe schoolhouse operations at the U.S. Army Quartermaster School’s Logistics Training Department’s objective supply support activity and objective motor pool.

The U.S. Army’s Quartermaster School instructors provide an exceptional overview of training given to Soldiers attending Advance Individual Training. However, the 3rd ID staff and instructors from LTD confirmed there was no formal training to introduce to officers, WOs, and NCOs charged with leading new Soldiers arriving at their first duty assignment on the GCSS-Army HHT capabilities. It was understood that many leaders never received training the GCSS-Army HHT during the initial fielding of the equipment to sustain its utilization for Soldiers leaving AIT. Furthermore, the team understood its leaders and middle managers within the 3rd ID were inadequately trained on the full capabilities of the GCSS-Army HHT. This further contributed to the Division G4’s observation that 92A and 92Y AIT Soldiers coming to 3rd ID were not applying the skills imparted on them at the U.S. Army Quartermaster School once arriving to their first assignments within the division’s respective company, troop, battery supply rooms, TSSAs, and maintenance company sections.

The Marne Division’s ability to effectively build a relationship with the U.S. Army Quartermaster School allowed both teams to begin collaborating towards developing a training program to connect functional task associated with the GCSS-Army HHT for leaders and middle managers. The discussion evolved around developing a short curriculum to improve knowledge gaps among sustainment leaders who manage new 92A and 92Y personnel. The 3rd ID quickly partnered with the LTD team and the Army Sustainment University’s Sustainment Automation Support Management Office Course Manager to develop a training package for its officers and NCOs on the utilization of its GCSS-Army HHT in concert with their VSATs and CAISIs inside their TSSAs to integrate systems, improve operations, and enhance organizational readiness across the division.

True and Honest Assessments

It’s extremely important for Army organizations to assess themselves on a consistence basis to achieve optimal performance during sustainment operations. In March 2023, the 3rd ID invited branch chiefs from U.S. Army Quartermaster School’s Logistics Training Department to Fort Stewart to assess their division’s TSSAs, review TSSA metrics data, and the utilization of the HHTs inside the TSSAs in correlation with the division’s SSA metrics data. The team from LTD also visited the brigade SASMO teams and interviewed the installation troop school COMET with the division’s G4 to assess current training programs and general knowledge concerning the utilization of the HHT. The personnel with the Quartermaster School identified seeming gaps amongst the installation’s COMET courses accompanied with unit supervisors and middle managers understanding of preparing and using the GCSS-Army HHTs. The team from LTD provided the 3rd ID with an honest assessment using the “Root Cause Analysis Model” which produced a variety of outputs during the visit.

The assessment revealed many NCOs never used the GCSS-Army HHTs or had limited experience with the device at previous duty stations. Although some supervisors were enforcing units to bring their tablets to the TSSA, many of them did not work upon arrival to the issue section. The brigade SASMOs were unaware of requirements to create separate user accounts for each company, troop, battery and TSSA. Many leaders did not fully understand each level of responsibility and requirements necessary between the brigade SASMO, brigade property book officer, network enterprise center, and users at the unit level for HHTs to function properly. During the visit, the LTD team revealed many of the TSSAs HHTs were not configured properly with the appropriate links on their home screen to access GCSS-Army and multiple organizations were missing the appropriate software and hardware for the HHTs to function.

The customers coming to the TSSA’s issue section were using stationary GCSS-Army laptops to close out material release orders while picking up materiel. The HHTs assigned to the TSSA were on the counter inside the issue section but were not being used by the customers. The general lack of enforcement to use the HHT was due to no one understanding where to begin the process to prepare it for use. Soldiers assigned to the TSSA storage section were using traditional methods and processes put-aways, as opposed to using their assigned GCSS-Army HHTs when processing transfer orders, which were designed to speed up productivity for materiel processed inside the TSSA. When SSA and unit personnel have properly configured HHTs and understand how to use them in various sections, productivity will increase as many of the manual processes are replaced. On average, the current pick-up and PGR process in the issue section of the SSA takes anywhere from 1-3 hours. Using the HHT, this would cut the time down significantly to 15-30 minutes depending on the amount of material required to process at the TSSA.

The team from the Quartermaster School found many of these practices negated the training provided to AIT students as they learn GCSS-Army processes using the HHT during training at schoolhouse’s logistics training department. During the assessment, the LTD team engaged recent graduates from AIT who were remarkably prepared to use the GCSS-Army HHT upon arrival to their units but were told HHTs were not used. Those Soldiers were directed to utilize the GCSS-Army computer and manual methods to complete tasks within the TSSA. The practice supported general comments reported from the field that newly 92A and 92Y graduates were not properly trained and prepared for their jobs upon entering the operational force – despite the training they received to process material according to the Army’s standard and intent utilizing the HHT. Conversations also centered around units having an accurate understanding of Army directives and local policies regarding the utilization of their GCSS-Army HHTs, issues getting HHTs configured and synced with VSAT, manning concerns in the SASMOs, issues preventing GCSS-Army user accounts, lack of training products for HHTs, lack of experience using HHTs, lack of knowledge on preparation and configuration of HHTs, and lack of SASMO support regarding personnel and getting updated software packages.

The LTD’s engagement with brigade PBOs found that Soldiers were not aware of the full responsibilities inherent on their team when assigning user roles for the HHT. Although a few of the PBOs used the ZAIT T-code to perform user maintenance assigning roles and responsibilities for AIT devices, they were unaware of the ZDOEMDM T-code which must be performed first to give access for specific users to specific HHT devices. If this step is not performed, the user will not be recognized on the device when they try to sign in. Additionally, they were unaware that they were responsible for assigning “work” to users for the HHT. For example, a user cannot simply pick up an HHT and start doing an inventory. Instead, the PBO must assign the inventory to the user so they can see and access it from the HHT home screen once they log in. Another key takeaway was the importance of registering of the HHTs in GCSS-Army after reimaging.

COMET instructors receive their POI from the various schoolhouses within the Combined Arms Support Command. Although there’s no formal training related to the GCSS-Army HHT in the COMET curriculum to train middle managers, the End User Manual Plus, and the GCSS-Army Training and Certification do include some HHT training topics. However, they do not fully explain the process users need to execute and prepare their HHTs for use. Although AIT students are trained using the HHT, it is not considered a 10-level task. The responsibility typically resides with an NCO/ supervisor, which could be covered when NCOs attend the Senior and Advance Leaders Course at ASU. In addition, the WO subject matter experts should also receive this information during Warrant Officer Basis Course (WOBC) and Warrant Officer Advance Course (WOAC). However, many of the WOs and NCOs interviewed by the LTD team said they had limited instruction regarding the utilization of the GCSS-Army HHT or had not received any formal training, which exacerbates existing knowledge gaps for the Army.

Bridging the Gap

After visiting the 3rd ID, the course facilitators from LTD were committed to developing a suitable training package for the team. The assessment conducted during the visit was crucial towards helping the 3rd ID meet its deputy command general of support goals towards building an excellent culture of sustainment readiness across the organization. From an aspect of simplicity, LTD’s initial focus for the course was to inform leaders on the capabilities of the device. Visiting multiple leaders within the 3rd ID staff and brigade combat team staff, accompanied with meeting leaders from the division’s brigade support battalions and interviewing their TSSA accountable officers and NCOs, the LTD team took steps to revise its approach towards ensuring the training was sufficient to meet the division’s goals. At the 3rdID request, LTD formulated an in-depth presentation and training package covering the regulatory guidance surrounding the GCSS-Army HHT, sustainment leaders’ responsibility for accurate functionally of the equipment in concert with other systems, cover the Army’s intended use of the HHT by sustainers inside their organizations, and the important benefits and contributions the HHT provides towards improving organizational readiness.

Overall, the training was designed to educate, train, and develop leaders to reduce signific ant knowledge gaps among logistics middle managers, supervisors, and sustainment personnel assigned to the Marne Division on the full capabilities of their HHTs. The team also developed a training package to inform brigade and battalion executive officers, S4 OICs and NCOICs, TSSA platoon leaders and platoon sergeants, brigade PBOs, maintenance control officers, and TSSA accountable officers with an overview to arm them with the ability to provide oversight and enforce utilization of the GCSS-Army HHT. The division’s supply and service and division SASMO within the G4, continued conducting continuous evaluations of their Brigade’s TSSAs customer wait times during the post goods receipts process of materiel. The division shared the accountability and management of materiel, which impacts our combat brigade’s readiness.

Training Implementation

In April 2023, after teaming up with the 3rd ID G4 had the U.S. Army Quartermaster School’s logistics training department (LTD) travel to Fort Stewart, Georgia with a mobile training team to provide training to sustainers across the Marne Division on the utilization of the HHT. The training was conducted in concert with an instructor from the ASU SASMO course on the VSAT and CAISI. The training package was developed in a joint effort with coordination between the LTD and division G4 to close significant education gaps amongst logistics officers and NCOs serving as middle managers. These personnel lacked adequate education on their assigned equipment. The support package was accompanied with training for leaders at various echelons who were responsible for ensuring the GCSS-Army HHTs function properly in the garrison and field environments. The training provided Marne Division leaders and middle managers with the latest hardware and software information to properly employ these systems to maximize their full capabilities for seamless transitions between garrison and combat operational environments. The updates allowed the division to gain efficient productivity and throughput within our tactical formations to increase organizational readiness throughout subordinate formations to the company, troop, battery levels.

The instructors from the Quartermaster School’s LTD and ASU trained 120 Marne Division and tenant unit logisticians serving in various middle management positions. The officers, WOs, and NCOs learned there were four main groups involved in the preparation of the GCSS-Army HHT. Although they do not have a physical role, senior leaders grasped a full understanding on their responsibilities regarding Army and command guidance that dictates how the HHT must be used. The LTD team trained the Marne Division PBOs teams on their responsibilities associated with the unit’s usage of the HHT. In addition, the information presented outlined the steps PBOs needed to accomplish in GCSS-Army to add users to a device, assign roles, and assign work to users for their quartermaster personnel to utilize their GCSS-Army HHTs.

The team conducted workshops with the organization’s PBO teams across the Division on properly using the ZAIT T-code and ZDOEMDM T-code to perform user maintenance while assigning roles and responsibilities for HHT devices. It was important for the PBO teams to understand how to properly provide access for specific users to specific HHT devices. The SASMO facilitator from ASU conducted an abbreviated yet in-depth workshop with SASMO teams from each brigade to identify their roles and responsibilities supporting units' GCSS- Army HHT devices. Much of this training consisted of how to reimage the HHT, while ensuring all SASMOs had the most up-to-date software. This focus was in response to observation findings which identified that SASMO teams had outdated software for reimaging or a lack of knowledge in connecting and granting permissions for users on either the NIPR or VSAT networks. In the workshop, Soldiers assigned to SASMO had a deeper understanding of how to support their units, validating the need to send personnel to the SASMO course at ASU.

The training allowed sustainment leaders to possess the technical expertise to fully employ the GCSS-Army HHT digital systems and analyze data to substantially reduce the

division’s high CWT for PGR of materiel from the TSSA, along with the proper management and accountability of materiel at the unit level further impacting the Brigade’s readiness in various forms. The training also provided the brigade SASMO personnel with the latest software to employ the GCSS-Army HHT through NEC and on the VSAT/CAISI networks. The training also provided a brief overview on the new S.C.O.U.T. system which is being fielded to brigades across the Marne Division for the modernization process. Through engaged leadership the 3rd ID seized a unique opportunity to actively partner with the Quartermaster School’s LTD to shape and enhance sustainment training at the tactical level for the Army during its modernization efforts.


As we modernize for future operations in multi-domain environments and increase readiness our logistics professionals, the Marne Division has shifted from traditional methods of sustainment to uphold momentum towards utilizing the GCSS-Army HHT. The 3rd ID understood the importance of employing techniques to increase the throughput of materiel and maximize organizational readiness for our Army. Sustainment leaders must be diligent at identifying training gaps and creating solutions for our leaders to provide the appropriate training to maintain a competitive edge for our Army today and in the future. The collaboration between the 3rd ID’s sustainers and the U.S. Army Quartermaster School demonstrates how our operating and generating force can develop appropriate training solutions on the evolution of sustainment systems.

As a result, the LTD team was able to consolidate information into a graphic training aid for Army-wide distribution. The GTA is intended to provide all personnel involved with the accurate function and usage of the HHT. The aid aims to help quickly identify and reference the capabilities and intended use of the HHT, the parties involved, and the various responsibilities of each entity. The GTA provides Soldiers at all levels with a one-stop resource to assist them in understanding how to be successful when using the GCSS-Army HHT. In addition, a GTA defining the SASMO's role in HHT functionality and the full description of the 5-part process used in imaging the HHT was also created. The partnership successfully demonstrates the joint efforts of operational and institutional organizations working together to close knowledge gaps in training, improve readiness, and support modernization, which is imperative as we develop multifunctional logisticians who are experts in all facets of sustainment. The training developed for the officers, WOs, and NCOs on the proper utilization of the GCSS-Army HHT system will greatly enhance the 3rd ID’s sustainment capabilities in materiel management, property accountability and drive sustainment readiness for the division, XVIII Airborne Corps, and organizations across U.S. Army Forces Command.