By BOB VAN ELSBERG, Strategic Communication Directorate, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, Fort Rucker, Ala.June 28, 2012
The Army will migrate back to the Digital Training Management System, an existing scheduling and tracking tool. Used for years to plan and track individual Soldier training, DTMS now has a POV Licensing Tab. The same DTMS mechanisms Soldiers used in the past to schedule and annotate weapons qualification on the range will now also schedule and track them on the road. And going back to the "old" way has its plusses, according to Charlie Ostrand, DTMS technical branch chief.
He and Jimmy Sawyer, Headquarters IMCOM safety manager at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, have worked closely to make this a smooth and effective transition. It's one that carries the benefits Soldiers had under AIRS -- free training and a clear understanding of the standards -- while adding leader involvement when Soldiers need to take required training.
No longer will Soldiers hand carry -- and potentially lose -- their training records when moving to a new assignment. Ostrand said, "They just show up at their next unit when the personnel system assigns them there. Then the unit can view their training record and update what they've done, where they're going and what they're doing."
Ostrand explained that Walt Beckman of the Driving Directorate at the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center played a key role in this transition. Beckman, a member of the Army Traffic Safety work group, approached Ostrand back in 2010 about the idea. He recognized DTMS had the capability to absorb the mission formerly done under AIRS. In the process, DTMS -- being a web-based system -- offered some very tangible benefits. Beckman realized that using DTMS would bring continuity to the Soldiers' training records, allowing units to better respond to their needs for riding training.
And there was another essential element DTMS brought to safety training.
"What Beckman was so astute at seeing was that safety is a command responsibility in the Army," Ostrand said. "So safety training -- making people aware of safety issues and ensuring people are safe in the way they do things -- becomes a command problem."
This was important because under AIRS, leaders referred the Soldier to someone else if there was a problem with their training. At that point, leaders lost sight of the process, not knowing whether their Soldier's needs were met or not. Using DTMS eliminates that problem.
The automated system allows leaders to quickly recognize when there is a problem with their Soldier's training. This, Ostrand said, makes it possible for Soldiers to get their chain of command engaged much more effectively should problems arise. Also, leaders are better able to monitor their Soldiers' progress, ensuring they get the required follow-on training at the proper intervals. Being web-based, DTMS allows both instructors and leaders to verify Soldiers attend the training.
One challenge is ensuring all training recorded in the AIRS program gets transitioned into DTMS so Soldiers receive credit for past training. This could be important for a Soldier who lost their motorcycle training card during the transition. However, the changeover is going well, according to Ostrand. He credits the cooperation provided by Headquarters IMCOM for making it possible to test the new DTMS program at Fort Hood, Texas, and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Sometimes there is wisdom in walking down familiar trails. By adapting DTMS to managing Soldiers' riding and driving training records, the Army has saved itself a lot of time and money, according to Ostrand. Most of the training provided to unit leadership and installation safety officers to use DTMS was accomplished over the phone. This made the transition very cost effective. And in today's Army, saving lives and money are both vital goals.