By By Jamie Carson, Combined Arms Support Command Public AffairsFebruary 16, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. -- "It's been a year of planning and preparation, and the results of this change will impact the Army's future force," said Keith Orage, deputy director, Logistics Training Department, U.S. Army Quartermaster School.
The yearlong endeavor of converting the Automated Logistical Specialist (92A) course back to a single daytime shift came to fruition Feb. 6, and the benefits are already visible said Orage.
"There's a noticeable increase in morale around LTD from the instructors to the students," said Orage. "It's too early to gauge, but we also anticipate an increase in the students' test scores as a result of this improvement."
Since the mid 90s, Advanced Individual Training Soldiers attending the Military Occupational Specialty course attended in two shifts, 6 a.m. -- 1 p.m. and 1 -- 9 p.m., which resulted after a merge of multiple MOSs. The course hours are now 8:30 a.m. -- 5 p.m.
Quartermasters graduating from the course are "primarily responsible for supervising and performing management or warehouse functions in order to maintain equipment records and parts," according to goarmy.com. The 12-week course here provides Soldiers the training needed to supply the ranks of the U.S. Army.
This course is just one of nine quartermaster enlisted MOSs taught at the U.S. Army Quartermaster School, Combined Arms Support Command. CASCOM is a subordinate command of the Training and Doctrine Command which develops, educates and trains America's fighting force.
"Everything we do here is ultimately about making the Army stronger and for the betterment of our service members," said Orage.
These two factors were the driving force that initiated an internal efficiency review of training, said Orage.
"We were looking for areas where we could streamline training and develop and integrate capabilities," said Orage. After reviewing the course material, LTD leaders determined what adjustments would be necessary to transition to single shift training. "Through a thoughtful and deliberate process, we were able to make a few internal changes and merge some training modules, with no reduction in training time."
Along with the course transition, some of the classrooms were renovated and training equipment was upgraded.
"We continue to push forward to stay relevant, and these changes were necessary," said Orage. "The biggest benefit overall is in the increase in the morale of our staff and students."
For Staff Sgt. Edwin Belgrave, 92A branch chief/instructor, the change has been a labor of love. As the branch chief, he was involved in the logistics of the courses conversion.
He's seen the affects of the night-shift course from both perspectives, as a student and now as an instructor.
"I remember how hard it was attending the night course in AIT," said Belgrave. "You had to complete all the normal day requirements of AIT life then go to class at night, and it was challenging at times."
Belgrave's wife and two children stayed in Germany when he moved here to teach at LTD. It was tough decision, but made the most sense, he said.
Before the conversion to one shift, there were times, depending on the amount of available staff, where some instructors were teaching two shifts for multiple days.
"We are Soldiers, 24/7," said Belgrave. "But it was difficult for some of the instructors not to actually get to spend time with their loved ones. That's why my wife and children live in Germany."
With a single shift, instructors have a better quality of life and more family time. Belgrave said he's proud to be a part of the change even though he won't be able to enjoy the benefits since he'll be changing duty stations soon.
"It's difficult being separated, but we make it work," he said. "I'm thankful to be here doing what I love to do - teaching. I was taught you always leave a place better than when you arrived and I feel like I have done that here."
Belgrave's efforts, along with the leadership's and staff's, have not gone unnoticed by the students, said Pvt. 1st Class Erin Belmonte, who's in her fourth week of the course.
"I truly appreciate all the hard work the leadership and staff put into making these changes for the course," said Belmonte, who was previously attending the night shift.
The 35-year-old Arizona native said seeing how the command responds to feedback and makes changes improving life for Soldiers is just one of the many reasons she's proud to be here at Fort Lee training.
Belmonte said she's noticed that her fellow students are more energetic about training, and fellow quartermaster in training, Pvt. 1st Class Ceciley Peterson agreed.
Although Peterson's mother went through the night shift course in the late 90s, the 18-year-old Los Angeles native wasn't aware of the two shifts before arriving at Fort Lee.
"Even if I had known prior to arriving, it wouldn't have changed my mind about joining as a quartermaster," said Peterson. "I like my choice of MOS."
Spc. Kevin Chambers, who also made the transition from attending night classes to the day course, said the change might give him an advantage in future duty assignments.
"Attending the night classes was harder. You're in class when others are sleep, and sometimes you feel alone outside of those who attend the course with you," said Chambers. "But when you choose to be a Soldier, you don't get to choose how or when you're needed."
Chambers, Peterson and Belmonte are among the 3,000 Soldiers who graduate from the 92A course annually. There is no expectation that the number of Soldiers attending the course will decrease, said Orage.
"We pay attention to the numbers, but more importantly we attention to what our Soldiers are saying," said Orage. "Change is good, and we'll continue to review and make the necessary changes to improve our training and quality of life for our Soldiers."