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Improvement Strategies for Logistics Automation Support

The Sustainment Automation Support Managment Office (SASMO), 615th Aviation Support Battalion, is responsible for providing dedicated automation support to the various logistics automation systems of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. SASMO provides technical assistance and customer support to sustain Standard Army Management Information Systems (STAMISs). [Editor’s note: SASMO was known as the Combat Service Support Automation Support Management Office (CSSAMO) until January.]

SASMO comprises Soldiers from various backgrounds, including—

  • Military occupational specialty (MOS) 15T, UH–60 helicopter repairers.
  • MOS 15R, AH–64 attack helicopter repairers.
  • MOS 92A, automated logistical specialists.
  • MOS 88N, transportation management coordinators.
  • MOS 25F, network switching systems operator-maintainers.
  • MOS 25B, information systems operator-analysts.

Each Soldier brings MOS knowledge and experience to support either a specific logistics automation system or the STAMIS network.

Problems During Operations

When the 615th Aviation Support Battalion deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom 09–11, SASMO was still known as CSSAMO. Its ability to provide quality automation support for the brigade’s sustainment personnel was hindered for several reasons, which were primarily related to the lack of personnel to support split-based operations and new logistics automation systems. As a result, the battalion faced considerable challenges.

The brigade was required to conduct split-based operations at multiple forward operating bases. This concept of decentralized operations required CSSAMO to support multiple logistics automation systems at various locations. However, CSSAMO was designed for centralized operations. CSSAMO’s manning does not provide enough personnel to support the concept of decentralized operations. The dilemma for the battalion was how to employ CSSAMO’s limited personnel to effectively support a brigade operating at multiple locations in a widely dispersed area.

The brigade received new logistics systems for condition-based maintenance (CBM) that enabled aviation units to repair components based on the component’s actual condition. Unfortunately, the CBM training went directly to the fielded battalion without CSSAMO involvement. Without training on the CBM systems, CSSAMO could not properly support them. Consequently, those battalions did not believe that CSSAMO had the ability to support them.

Recommended Improvement Strategies

In July 2009, the 615th Aviation Support Battalion’s leaders decided to improve CSSAMO. They focused on three improvement strategies: involve and empower, foster an atmosphere of continuous improvement and learning, and grow relationships between the battalions and CSSAMO.

Involve and empower. The battalion divided CSSAMO into two teams to increase Soldiers’ involvement in learning other logistics automation systems. Each team consisted of a mixture of Soldiers with different backgrounds. A variety of STAMIS problems were given to each team to solve. The intent of this strategy was to produce competent and versatile CSSAMO Soldiers who could address various issues.

To empower Soldiers, decisionmaking authority was delegated to team leaders. This increased junior leaders’ levels of responsibility in solving STAMIS problems. The empowerment of junior leaders was instrumental during the brigade’s STAMIS network upgrade. During this mission, two non-signal specialists planned and configured 14 satellite terminals to ensure connectivity for both aviation and ground vehicle maintenance. This leader development strategy helped to prepare junior leaders to make decisions on their own.

Foster an atmosphere of continuous improvement and learning. The ability to resolve complex STAMIS problems required Soldiers to have knowledge of STAMISs and automation in general. The battalion developed a training program that focused on continuous learning and improvement for long-term success. The purpose was to broaden and sustain CSSAMO Soldiers’ technical skills.

The training program involved formal training courses in conjunction with on-the-job training. The battalion used training courses from Baghdad Signal University, the U.S. Army Central Command Signal University, and the Automated Logistics Assistance Team-Iraq. From August to December 2009, CSSAMO conducted over 800 hours of training on various subjects that included computer hardware maintenance, information assurance, computer networking, and various logistics automation systems. Cross training conducted in small groups reinforced the formal training. This practice gave unprecedented benefits to the support of the brigade’s split-based operations.

As a result of the training program, CSSAMO Soldiers possessed the aptitude and technical expertise to support multiple logistics automation systems, rather than just one. This was crucial when the brigade deployed an aviation task force to another forward operating base. Its mission required CSSAMO to support five different logistics automation systems and establish a STAMIS network. Traditionally, the mission would require CSSAMO to send five or six Soldiers to support the aviation task force. Because of the training program, CSSAMO supported the aviation task force with only two Soldiers. The training program successfully increased CSSAMO’s flexibility and capability to support split-based operations.

Grow relationships between the battalions and CSSAMO. The brigade developed a sense of uncertainty about CSSAMO’s ability to provide automation support for CBM technologies. The 615th Aviation Support Battalion embedded CSSAMO Soldiers with the 1–227 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion and 3–227 Assault Helicopter Battalion. The goals of embedding Soldiers were to provide on-the-job experience in supporting the CBM systems and to build trust between the battalions and CSSAMO.

The CSSAMO Soldiers learned how the CBM systems supported the brigade’s aviation maintenance by working for the aviation maintenance officer of the battalion in which they were embedded. They also worked with the various CBM technical representatives to provide assistance for users. This allowed the CSSAMO Soldiers to articulate and resolve numerous CBM errors. As CSSAMO increased its ability to support CBM technologies, the trust between the battalions and CSSAMO improved.

CSSAMO’s success in supporting logistics automation systems was thanks to leaders continuously seeking ways to develop Soldiers. Its ability to provide dedicated automation support for STAMISs in future full-spectrum operations needs appropriate Soldier development programs to be successful.

Captain Andrew M. Sawyer is the S–6 for the 615th Aviation Support Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas. He is prior enlisted and a graduate of the Primary Leadership Development Course, the Basic Noncomissioned Officer Course, the Engineer Officer Basic Course, the Signal Officer Advanced Course, and the Information Systems Management Course. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer information science from Columbia College.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rosung D. Petty is a supply system technician. He was stationed with the 675th Aviation Support Battalion when this article was written.

Staff Sergeant Jonathan C. Shaw is the Sustainment Automation Support Management Office noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Headquarters Support Company, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, at Fort Hood, Texas. He is a graduate of the Primary Leadership Development Course and Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Hartford.

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