War squeezes IT training programs

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Defense Department officials are tailoring their training programs so that users on the battlefield can make the most out of systems set up to help them wage war.

The Army is using more than 4,000 computers and 100 servers in southwest Asia to run numerous logistics systems with local and worldwide connections. That requires help from military, civilian and vendor personnel to operate, manage and maintain, and it often requires new users to receive accelerated training courses after they arrive, said Maj. Forrest Burke, chief of logistics information management here for the Coalition Forces Land Component Command.

"There are six warehouses at camps Doha and Arifjan, and we're keeping an eye on them continuously," said Chief Warrant Officer Tony Ocasio of the Combined Arms Support Command, Fort Lee, Va. "Before, they were heads without a body, and we helped grow the body and get them stood up. We show them how to receive, store, and issue supplies and different commodities."

Ocasio said that rolling out the systems and training the necessary personnel at the warehouses took 90 days.

"Many of the units doing this are reservists, so there is a training and experience shortfall," he said. "You have [postal workers, accountants, etc.] in a tactical situation, so we're doing 'over-the-shoulder' training and using our digital classroom here" (see picture).

Maj. Ken Tillman, a reservist in the 337th Theater Support Command, is the coordinator for the Integrated Logistics Analysis Program and Joint Deployment Logistical Model in Burke's area. He helps ensure not only that those systems and the corresponding vendors work together to help form the logistics common operating picture, but also sets up training for the soldiers who need to use them.

"Everything is compressed," he said. "We do a week's worth of training in a day, and a day's worth in two hours."

Elsewhere, the Army's Movement Tracking System, which helps the logistics community precisely track and communicate with tactical vehicles, also has seen its training cycles shortened, said retired Army Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Broyles, the system program management office representative here.

The Army can install a Movement Tracking System unit and complete a basic training session in about four hours, Broyles said.

In some cases, training can't be done in person. Coalition commanders conducting air operations use the latest version of the Theater Battle Management Core Systems. Some military personnel new to the Web-based system have been trained on it over the phone, said Peter Garcia, deputy systems manager of the Combined Air Operations Center, home of the TBMCS.

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