HomeAbout UsBrowse This IssueBack IssuesNews DispatchesSubscribing to Army LogisticianWriting for Army LogisticianContact UsLinks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The Future of the Automated Logistical Specialist

Soldiers with military occupational specialty 92A are responsible for knowing how to operate an increasing number of continually changing logistics systems.  

Just over a decade ago, after performing preventive maintenance checks and services (PMCS) on his vehicle, a Soldier would walk from the company motor pool to the maintenance section and give the completed Department of the Army Form 2404, Equipment Inspection Maintenance Worksheet, to the Unit Level Logistics System-Ground (ULLS–G) operator, an equipment records and parts specialist holding military occupational specialty (MOS) 76C. After the maintenance supervisor verified the faults, the 76C Soldier would update the equipment faults in the ULLS–G automated maintenance system, which updated the Standard Army Maintenance System (SAMS) that was operated by another 76C Soldier.

The ULLS–G operator would order the parts required to repair the vehicle and place the request on a diskette for input to the Standard Army Retail Supply System-1 (SARSS–1) at the supply support activity (SSA) warehouse. He then would deliver the diskette to the SSA, where a stock control and accounting specialist (MOS 76P) would process the diskette and print a materiel release order for the repair parts. A materiel storage and handling specialist (MOS 76V) would pull the parts from the SSA stocks.

Today, the process is basically the same. The foundation of the entire maintenance program is still the proper PMCS of the unit’s equipment by a trained operator. What has changed is that all of the support Soldiers involved in the automated maintenance tracking and supply support missions now share the same MOS—92A, automated logistical specialist.

The automated accounting systems and the rapidly evolving user-level communications architecture that supports them have transformed the 92A Soldier from an automated record keeper and inventory manager to an information technology-enabled worker with many valuable skills. The catalysts for the continued evolution of the 92A Soldier are advances in the information technology field, the Army’s procurement of more sophisticated inventory management and communications systems, and the continued accession of well-educated Soldiers.

MOS 92A

MOS 92A was created by combining MOSs 76C, 76P, 76V, and 76X (subsistence supply specialist). MOS consolidation is not a new Army concept. Several supply MOSs have been consolidated over the past 40 years. A 92A Soldier holds the equivalent of 16 supply MOSs from the Vietnam War era. At that time, 20 supply MOSs—from supplyman (MOS 76A) to senior supply/service sergeant (MOS 76Z)—covered the
spectrum of Army supplies.

Cross-training and job consolidation are ubiquitous in modern industry. Proficient and knowledgeable workers enable organizations to be more adaptive, effective, and efficient. MOS 92A is a logical consolidation of similar jobs. More than 11,300 authorized slots in the Army personnel inventory are 92A positions, and half of those authorizations are in the ranks of specialist or below.

MOS 92A Soldiers are expected to maintain a technical proficiency commensurate with their skill levels. They have up to 85 skill-level-dependent critical tasks, each with its own required subtasks. These subtasks include—

• Supervising and performing warehouse functions in order to maintain equipment records and parts.

• Operating the automated systems that facilitate the management of supplies or maintenance.

• Manually receiving, storing, and issuing supplies.

High-Tech Equipment Training

The introduction of new technologies and equipment into a military organization that spans the globe presents a difficult challenge for the Army’s institutional and unit training programs. The Army must find a way to train Soldiers effectively and efficiently on emergent systems and equipment while maintaining the current operating tempo.

For example, the Battle Command Sustainment Support System (BCS3) (the successor to the often-maligned Combat Service Support Control System) has many applications for providing logistics commanders a more complete near-real-time picture of the situation within an area of operations than they have had in the past. BCS3 training is designated as non-MOS-specific. However, a 92A Soldier usually is tasked as the BCS3 operator in the battalion support operations office. BCS3 training is not a part of the 92A training program at the Army Quartermaster Center and School at Fort Lee, Virginia. BCS3 training, as with many emergent systems, is often provided by onsite training teams. Onsite training teams, such as those accessed through the Digital Training Management System (DTMS), are funded by individual divisions or installations to provide onsite training to their Soldiers. This can present a training dilemma for Soldiers deployed forward in the Iraq area of operations because they may not have access to onsite teams but still must be trained on emergent systems.

In some cases, the amount of effort expended by the Army to administer and sustain the training of proficient operators will outweigh the benefits of the training. Job consolidation works well until the amount of knowledge required to perform well in each of the consolidated areas becomes too great for most Soldiers to master. At some point, adding another logistics automation system to the 92A field will not be advantageous since fewer trained operators will be available.

Contracting

In addition to mastering new systems, other critical logistics requirements are falling into the MOS 92A realm of responsibility. Contingency contracting operations are a standard part of military operations. Numerous global deployments to remote areas have created the need for more Soldiers with contracting skills to coordinate host nation support for Army forces. Contracting officers belong to the Army Acquisition Corps, and contracting noncommissioned officers (NCOs) maintain the additional skill identifier (ASI) G1, contracting agent. Incorporating contracting operations into the 92A and 92Y (unit supply specialist) education system has benefited contingency contracting operations.

The growing need for contracting operations may contradict the current practice of temporarily assigning NCOs to ASI G1 positions. Managing acquisitions and contracts with a host nation is an intricate, but perishable, skill. Contracting NCOs who follow a normal permanent change-of-station schedule with average rotations of 36 months will not remain current in the constantly changing contracting field without consecutive contracting assignments and training. Improving the career and assignment management of ASI G1 Soldiers would preclude the need to create a separate MOS for contracting agents, but a separate MOS may be necessary if assignments are not carefully managed. [See related article on page 7.] Contracting agent prerequisites should include a logistics background, as the Marine Corps currently does, to help produce technically competent agents. Required sustainment training must be institutionalized to keep Soldiers’ skills current.

Subsistence Supply

The inclusion of MOS 76X in the 92A consolidation seemed appropriate, given the similarity of the supply procedures for rations and repair parts. A ration platoon of MOS 92A Soldiers manages the brigade-level ration breakpoints in support of the Army Field Feeding System. While 92A Soldiers manage the receipt, storage, and issue of rations well, a food operations specialist (MOS 92G) is required to maintain the appropriate ration management forms, compute the ration breakdown, and ensure the proper handling of perishable items. Establishing an ASI for rations handlers and improving assignment management would validate the inclusion of MOS 76X in MOS 92A.

Assignment-Oriented Training

The Fiscal Year 2004 Quartermaster Branch Functional Review recommended assignment-oriented training for 92A Soldiers. This recommendation entailed dividing MOS 92A into a two-track system—one for unit-level and the other for direct support-level Soldiers. Soldiers in each track would be given assignments based on their experience. The MOS would be consolidated for Soldiers in the grade of E–6 and above. The separate assignments would develop the skills required of 92A Soldiers and ensure more specialized and technically competent NCO leadership in their respective areas.

However, the assignment-oriented training initiative fails to address a common occurrence among 92A NCOs. Many Army supply activities and materiel management centers (MMCs) are currently managed by senior NCOs who have spent their careers as ULLS clerks. They were seldom afforded any SARSS training until their promotions to E–6 forced their battalions to release them to assignments commensurate with their rank. These NCOs are expected to have the level of technical competence necessary to manage a supply activity effectively; however, in reality, they struggle to gain the knowledge they need to accomplish the mission.

Better assignment management at the installation and division levels will provide 92A Soldiers more opportunities to learn the skills they need at the different levels of supply. This means that the G/S–1 personnel managers must be aware of the cross-training needed to ensure that Soldiers are assigned to positions that broaden their experience. Force stabilization initiatives, including unit-focused stability and home basing, emphasize the need for cross-training among Soldiers because they may spend a large portion of their careers at one installation and, possibly, at the same job.

Training Solutions

After initial entry (basic) training, 92A Soldiers complete 12 weeks of advanced individual training (AIT) at the Quartermaster School. They learn the basics of automated supply and receive training on some of the automated supply management equipment used in the SSA warehouse, such as the Materiel Release Order Control System and the portable infrared label scanner and data collection device. They are introduced to the automated systems that manage organizational maintenance (ULLS), direct support maintenance (SAMS), and supply support (SARSS). They also learn about the procedures for managing rations under the Army Field Feeding System.

One Army solution for continued technical MOS training is the Distributed Learning System (DLS) (formerly The Army Distance Learning Program). DLS provides computer-based training at hundreds of digital training facilities via the Internet and on CD–ROM software. Information on DLS and a generous number of MOS-related courses is available on line at www.tadlp.monroe.army.mil or from unit training NCOs.

The introduction to the SSA of the Field Pack-Up Unit Modular Storage System, which is replacing the outdated M129 storage van, also presents a unique training issue. The containers are moved on palletized load system (PLS) trucks. MOS 92A Soldiers do not routinely receive driver training on the PLS truck, so the SSA loses its ability to move itself. This problem could be solved by training 92A Soldiers to drive PLSs during sergeant’s time training, site training team visits, and unit training exercises.

Hands-on training also occurs for 92A Soldiers at the three Army maneuver combat training centers—the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (formerly the Combat Maneuver Training Center) at Hohenfels, Germany; the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana; and the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California. The NTC provides hands-on tactical and technical training opportunities for logistics Soldiers in a contemporary operating environment. Performing real-time supply missions using robust class IX (repair parts) stocks and working with the familiar faces of the 92A’s own brigade engender confidence and experience.

NTC observations of MOS 92A Soldiers’ skills, however, indicate that they need more training on the technical aspects of the SSA mission, including the use of the new satellite communications systems and wireless networking and the maintenance of automation in a harsh desert environment. Of critical importance is the need to include the ULLS, SAMS, and SARSS operators in the unit’s tactical training. Computer operators may be excluded from many training events, such as convoy live-fire exercises, because of the criticality of their mission, which results in insufficient tactical training.


MOS Workshops

Developing and implementing installation-level MOS workshops could alleviate much of the disparity in technical knowledge among 92A Soldiers serving in a number of key positions, including ULLS clerks, SAMS operators, rations handlers, SSA technical supply clerks, automation management office clerks, and support operations commodities managers. These workshops also could help 92As who are cross-training in unit supply rooms.

An MOS workshop is a brief and intensive educational program for a relatively small group of people. It focuses on the techniques and skills of a specific field, such as logistics automation. Installation training facilities with fully configured logistics systems could be used to certify each system operator and would prove invaluable to gaining units that are struggling to provide on-the-job training for new Soldiers.

The workshop concept may be limited by the support provided by the installation and the command emphasis placed on acquiring highly trained supply and maintenance systems operators. For example, commanders usually will place mission requirements before training when determining their work priorities. This may prevent Soldiers from attending the workshops.

Implementing new training standards has obvious inherent pitfalls. Changing from the currently entrenched assignment-focused training system to a system based on the comprehensive teaching of emergent technical systems to every 92A Soldier at brigade level and below is an arduous task. Soldiers and their leaders may express dissatisfaction with the concept of rotating knowledgeable Soldiers to other units or even within the same unit.

Conversely, it would be a mistake to overlook how new information technologies, the privatization of key logistics functions, and reorganization of the Army’s force structure will affect logistics systems and Soldiers. Proactive planning and implementation of aggressive training systems by the Army Training and Doctrine Command and Army trainers at all levels will provide the logistics community with technically and tactically competent 92A warrior logisticians for future operations.
ALOG

Chief Warrant Officer (W–3) Timothy N. McCarter, Sr., is the Class IX Distribution Observer-Controller with the Goldminer team at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. He attends the University of Maryland and is a graduate of the Warrant Officer Basic and Advanced Course and the Joint Course on Logistics.