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Improving Logistics
Automation Support


The author proposes realigning several warrant officer military occupational specialties to create a warrant officer specialty area that will increase the knowledge and experience of those charged with supporting and maintaining logistics automation systems.

The speed and mobility of today’s combat forces make logistics automation systems vital tools in sustaining an Army that can move farther and faster than any force in history. Logistics automation systems, collectively called Standard Army Management Information Systems (STAMIS), were developed by the combat service support community to improve logistics support to the warfighter. These systems are essential to ensuring that Soldiers have the resources they need to win the fight. However, supporting STAMIS continues to be a challenge for the logistics and signal communities. One key reason for this is that no single military occupational specialty (MOS) combines cross-functional expertise in information systems, supply, and maintenance.

The six logistics functional areas (supply, maintenance, transportation, civil engineering, health services, and other services such as personnel administration, finance, and food service) have many specially developed STAMIS. STAMIS are found at every level of the Army organizational structure, from company motor pools, supply rooms, and orderly rooms to corps materiel management centers, depots, and national inventory control points. Under the Future Force structure, STAMIS will be found in brigade combat teams (BCTs) and units of employment (UEs).

The Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-Army) will replace 30-year-old legacy STAMIS technology with an integrated, modular system that uses common hardware, software, communications interfaces, and protocols. However, this will not lessen the need for skilled support technicians. Highly trained technicians with the right skills will still be needed to keep GCSS-Army equipment operational.

CSSAMO

The organization responsible for supporting all levels of STAMIS is the combat service support automation management office (CSSAMO). The CSSAMO includes functional experts in automation, supply, maintenance, and logistics. In Active Army and Army Reserve units, the CSSAMO officer in charge usually holds functional area (FA) 53, systems automation manager. The senior technical leader is a warrant officer with MOS 251A, information systems technician. (When a 251A is not available, a 250N, network management technician; 918B, electronic systems maintenance technician; or 920B, supply systems technician, may fill the slot.) The two most common enlisted specialties assigned to a CSSAMO are 25B, information systems operator-analyst, and 92A, automated logistical specialist. The Army National Guard has one person assigned as the CSSAMO in the G–4 in each state, three territories, and the District of Columbia. This position can be a warrant officer (MOS 920A, property accounting technician; 920B; or 251A), a commissioned officer (FA 90A, logistics specialist; 91B, medical specialist; or 92A, automated logistical specialist), or a civilian technician.

The CSSAMO provides a single point of support for STAMIS hardware, software, communication de-vices, local area networks, and wide area networks and manages assigned wireless and satellite equipment. CSSAMOs are also responsible for—

• Ensuring that software updates are implemented.
• Maintaining hardware and software data on all STAMIS within their area of responsibility.
• Ensuring information assurance compliance.
• Integrating databases for new units
• Coordinating signal support requirements with the signal officer.
• Assisting supported units with STAMIS conti-nuity of operations planning.
• Recording and reviewing system problem reports.
• Preparing an Engineering Change Proposals-Software form for common problems.
• Providing user-level support training.

CSSAMO Analysis

In 1995, the Army Training and Doctrine Com-mand Analysis Center at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, released a report called “Combat Service Support Automation Management Office (CSSAMO) Training Analysis.” The executive summary of this report identified two key deficiencies in CSSAMO operations: inadequate staffing levels and a lack of necessary skills and qualifications. Its recommendations included increasing staffing levels, modifying staff composition, and providing training to improve skills.

The analysis also reported eight concerns expressed by CSSAMOs in the field, six of which relate to cross-functional skills. Those six concerns are—

• The mix of personnel skills is inadequate to meet job requirements. CSSAMOs require a mix of functional personnel with backgrounds in STAMIS and technical personnel with backgrounds in computer systems, operating systems, and computer hardware.
• The grade structure of the staff is too low. The functions CSSAMOs perform require personnel experienced and skilled in computers or functional systems. Many of the highly skilled staff have acquired their skills on their own rather than through Army training.
• The CSSAMO concept does not provide for the fielding of new systems. New and emerging systems are constantly being fielded, and users look to the CSSAMOs for support that may not be available.
• The CSSAMO concept does not address increasing system complexity.
• CSSAMOs support split operations, a requirement that is not in the CSSAMO concept and for which they are not staffed.
• The consolidation of MOSs 76C, equipment, records, and parts specialist; 76P, materiel control and accounting specialist; 76V, materiel storage and handling specialist; and 76X, subsistence supply specialist, into MOS 92A increased system problems. The 92As are the operators for many automated logistics systems, but their training does not cover the systems in any depth. The data clearly showed that many 92As did not know how to operate their specific systems, which created problems when they tried to operate complex systems.

Problems sometimes occur when MOS 92A Soldiers experienced in the operation of only one supply and maintenance system are assigned to a CSSAMO, where they are expected to be highly skilled in the operation of many systems. Similar problems occur when Soldiers with MOS 25B are assigned to a CSSAMO and are expected to be knowledgeable about all types of computer hardware, software, operating systems, and networks.

CSSAMO training courses are available at the Army Logistics Management College at Fort Lee, Virginia, and at the Army National Guard Professional Education Center at Camp Robinson, Arkansas. Both schools cover STAMIS-specific hardware and operating systems, STAMIS applications and interfaces, STAMIS software and communications, and STAMIS troubleshooting and diagnostics.

Problems During Operations

During Operation Joint Guard in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1996, Task Force Eagle experienced recurring problems with STAMIS communications because of inadequate operator and CSSAMO logistics automation training. Seven years later, units engaged in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) experienced the same problems. In the summer of 2003, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Logistics and Materiel Readiness) and the Joint Staff J–4 sponsored an objective assessment of logistics in Iraq. Science Applications International Corporation completed the assessment in March 2004. Its summarized findings state—



Correcting the Problems

Transforming STAMIS support will require staffing BCT and UE CSSAMOs with senior technicians who have the skills necessary to understand integrated systems fully. STAMIS require a high level of integrated knowledge in computer systems, networks, and supply and maintenance logistics. This critical aspect of STAMIS support has been lacking in CSSAMOs from their inception.

Each Soldier in a CSSAMO brings functional area expertise to the team. Over the course of an assign-ment, a Soldier often learns enough about other areas through experience, formal training, and on-the-job training to become highly effective at diagnosing and fixing more complex system problems. However, a Soldier departing a CSSAMO may never be assigned to another one, and his replacement may have no experience in CSSAMO operations. Thus, CSSAMO operations have few personnel with logistics automation support skills that have been accumulated beyond a single tour of duty.

Logistics automation systems are too critical to suffer this skills gap continually. The solution lies with the Army’s warrant officers—technical experts who maintain the Army’s systems throughout their careers and serve as technical leaders and senior advisors. Signal Corps warrant officers typically fill CSSAMO warrant officer positions. With minor realignment of positions in the Signal Corps warrant officer leader development model, one warrant officer MOS could provide dedicated support to the CSSAMO.


Recommended MOS Changes

Warrant officer MOS 254A, signal systems support technician, was established in 2003 to support nonsignal units. STAMIS are located primarily in nonsignal units, and the established 254A primary tasks align well with supporting STAMIS. Additional training in Army supply and maintenance systems and making MOS 254A the dedicated CSSAMO career track could provide a warrant officer with a 254A MOS the advanced level of technical expertise and knowledge that is critically needed to provide highly effective STAMIS support.

To facilitate the addition of the CSSAMO position to the MOS 254A career track, some of the existing positions could be realigned to the other Signal Corps warrant officer MOSs. (Note the suggested career track position changes on the chart above.) Information systems (IS) security positions (under various titles) are included in both 251A and 254A career tracks. IS security is one of the core specialties of the 251A warrant officer. It makes sense to fill all IS security-related positions across the board with MOS 251A warrants rather than train two separate specialties to do the same job. MOSs 251A and 254A both have an IS security technician position at the W–3 level. Eliminating the chief, IS security technician, position from 254A and recoding that position as 251A IS security technician or information assurance technician would eliminate this redundancy. The chief, communications security branch, position should be removed from 254A and added to 251A.

Another logical change is to remove the joint communications support technician from the MOS 254A career track. This position is already included in, and is more closely related to, the 250N career track. The communications and electronics (C–E) support officer position is included in the career track for 254A warrant officers at the W–1 and W–2 levels only. However, the position is included in the career track for MOS 250N at the W–4 level. Moving the C–E support officer position to the career track of MOS 250N warrant officers at the W–1 to W–2 level would provide them with the experience needed to fill the C–E staff technician position later in their careers.

Several other MOS 251A and 254A positions need to be realigned. The assistant S–6 position should be removed from 254A and added to 251A. Warrant officers with a 251A MOS spend most of their careers working for the S–6, supporting non-STAMIS automation assets. They are not prepared for CSSAMO assignments. Realigning the assistant S–6 position from 254A to 251A would improve career progression within the 251A MOS. The chief, CSSAMO, position should be removed from 251A and added to 254A. Finally, the chief, communications security branch, position should be removed from 254A and added to 251A because information systems security is one of the core specialties of the 251A warrant officer.

MOS 918B also lists the CSSAMO and communi-cations security positions as possible assignments, but neither is central to the 918B’s core skills. The primary focus of this MOS is electronic systems hardware maintenance and repair. Divesting the 918B of these nonmaintenance positions would strengthen the MOS. Under the proposed BCT and UE Army organizational model, each unit is assigned at least one 250N, 251A, and 254A position.


The 254A MOS training should include computer hardware, operating systems, networking, and logistics courses. The recommended 254A Warrant Officer Basic Course and Warrant Officer Advanced Course (WOAC) subjects are outlined in the charts at left. The advanced course would include the Department of the Army Logistics Intern Training Program, which is a 24-week course designed to develop
multiskilled, multifunctional technicians who have the knowledge and skills needed to support logistics operations.

The next generation of Army information systems should resolve many of the low-level interface and communications problems plaguing the legacy systems. However, these advances will increase rather than decrease the need for highly skilled technicians who have a breadth and depth of knowledge about all facets of the systems. Automated systems that are robust and simple for the end user are rarely simple in architecture or internal operation. Intricate systems require highly skilled support technicians.

Enlisted personnel bring knowledge and experience in their field to a CSSAMO. Simple problems with root causes traceable to a single field can be solved by someone with expertise only in that field. However, troubleshooting a problem to find its root cause, especially a problem with multiple contributing factors, requires an understanding of the system as a whole. Unfortunately, by the time an enlisted Soldier in a CSSAMO acquires such an understanding, his assignment is over, and the probability of follow-on CSSAMO assignments is minimal. A 254A warrant officer with additional supply and maintenance train-ing and a dedicated career track to support logistics automation should have the high-level skills and long-term logistics automation experience needed to keep Army information systems fully mission capable and ready to support the combat mission.
ALOG

Chief Warrant Officer (W–4) Jacqueline L. Wallace is an information systems technician in the Intelligence Technology Division at the Joint Analysis Center, Royal Air Force Base, Molesworth, United Kingdom. She has served as the Combat Service Support Automation Management Officer for Fort Lewis, Washington, and for Area III, Korea. She has a B.S. degree in computer science from Madonna University in Michigan and a master of engineering management degree from St. Martin’s College in Washington and is a graduate of the Warrant Officer Advanced Course and the Warrant Officer Staff Course.

The author thanks Chief Warrant Officer (W–3) Robert Powers, Chief Warrant Officer (W–3) Gerald Morrow, Chief Warrant Officer (W–3) Janice Fontanez, Chief Warrant Officer (W–3) Roger Fillmer, and Chief Warrant Officer (W–4) Roslyn Barbee for their help in preparing this article.