While it has always been important, property accountability has moved into the forefront of the challenges that Army leaders are facing today. Now that operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are well established, we need to start looking at gaps in accountability procedures that have been created by the contemporary operating environment. In addition to the higher operating tempo that we are experiencing, the conversion to a modular force has created many challenges in maintaining property accountability.
One challenge that was evident early on was gaps in training. Training gaps were identified at all levels—officer, warrant officer, and enlisted. For officers, the depth of property accountability training during the various phases of the Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) varies by branch. This training should be standardized and reviewed periodically to ensure that it remains current and relevant. For the warrant officer newly accessed as a property book officer, a training gap exists because the new modular structure does not offer the opportunities to gain experience in property book procedures that were available in the division-centric Army. For enlisted personnel, today’s supply noncommissioned officer (NCO) is not required to attend the Basic NCO Course until he enters the primary zone of consideration for sergeant first class (although the course is strongly recommended at the E–5 or junior E–6 level). This causes a gap in –20-level training and property book procedures.
To address these issues, the Army Quartermaster Center and School has been actively involved in developing computer-based, interactive, multimedia instructional (IMI) tools. A giant step forward in this area was the recent implementation of an IMI course entitled “Property Accountability for Leaders in the Contemporary Operational Environment.” Its development was a joint effort of the Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) Training Directorate, the Army Quartermaster Center and School, and C2 Technologies. This course consists of three learning modules, one summary module, and a capstone exercise. It is geared to senior lieutenants and junior captains preparing to assume a command position but also provides invaluable training for leaders at all levels. In the near future, this course may become an integral part of BOLC III for all branches.
The course teaches the basics of supply and property accountability in the first two modules. The third module walks students through the supply procedures needed to deploy, sustain, and redeploy a unit. The fourth module summarizes the major points presented in the first three modules and leads into a capstone exercise where the student answers a series of scenario-based questions on the deployment and redeployment of a notional unit. This course can be found on the Army Learning Management System (ALMS) website. Go to ALMS by using the “My Training” option in Army Knowledge Online and searching for “property accountability” under “Catalog Search.”
Another training initiative that has recently been fielded is the new Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE) training aids. These training aids are an enhancement of the existing job aids. While the original job aids were based on a “tell me” format, the new training aids have “tell me-show me-try it” functionality. These aids are embedded in the PBUSE program and can be accessed in two ways. First, immediately upon log-in, a Soldier can click on “Training” and review all of the modules. Second, a Soldier who is working on a particular transaction and is unsure of the next step can click on the “Training” button to open the training aid. Once the Soldier receives the reinforcement training, he can return to the exact spot where the training aid was originally accessed.
Each training aid module consists of four features. The first is a “tell me” document that graphically shows the procedure needed to complete the transaction. The next feature is the “show me” capability, which uses a multimedia presentation to demonstrate the process. The “try it” feature allows the user to interact with the program and execute the actual steps required to complete the transaction. The final feature is a short “check on learning” exercise that assesses the operator’s understanding of the procedure needed to complete the transaction.
The Quartermaster Center and School is also developing commander’s guides that deal with the various functional areas within the Quartermaster branch. The first one, which is soon to be completed, is the Commander’s Guide to the Command Supply Discipline Program. This guide will provide commanders at all levels with the knowledge and tools to implement their command supply discipline program without having to read through Army supply regulations to retrieve the information that applies to their programs. Guides for other functional areas, such as food service, aerial delivery, and petroleum and water operations, are currently under development. As each guide is completed, it is evaluated for the feasibility of developing a multimedia training course to complement the guide.
The potential for computer-based training to fill gaps in property accountability training caused by the contemporary operating environment and transformation is limitless. At the Quartermaster Center and School, we are in the process of updating existing training courses and evaluating the possibility of developing new ones. One such initiative is the development of a stand-alone, scenario-based PBUSE training package that will augment existing training aids. We are striving to maximize the use of technology to increase property accountability awareness and training for Soldiers of all branches to ensure that we are good stewards of Government funds.
Chief Warrant Officer (W–5) David A. Dickson is the Quartermaster Warrant Officer Proponent Manager in the Office of the Quartermaster General, Army Quartermaster Center and School, at Fort Lee, Virginia