Georgia National Guard’s 48th BCT’s logisticians train at NTC with CSS VSAT/CAISI before deployment to Iraq

Georgia National Guard’s 48th BCT’s logisticians train at NTC with CSS VSAT/CAISI before deployment to Iraq

Stephen Larsen

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — During their April training rotation at the National Training Center, the Citizen-Soldiers of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 48th Brigade Combat Team learned the lessons of those who came before them as they prepared for a year of duty in Iraq. One of those lessons is that the Army G4’s initiative to ‘Connect Army Logisticians’ with Combat Service Support Satellite Communications systems is living to its advance billing as a combat multiplier.

The 48th’s Soldiers have found that the CSS SATCOM systems–which include Combat Service Support Very Small Aperture Terminals in tandem with the Combat Service Support Automated Information Systems Interface, a wireless interface which plugs the system into a local area network or into a wide area network–have increased their readiness by enabling them to electronically transmit supply requisitions and receive near-real time status reports on their orders, 24-hours-a day, seven-days-a-week.

COL Lawrence Dudney, the deputy commander and logistics manager of 48th BCT said that CSS VSAT/CAISI has helped the brigade realize the potential of the automated systems that arm, fuel, fix, move, and sustain the force.

“The system has enhanced our automation capabilities in the brigade and given us redundancy,” said Dudney. “It’s given us another opportunity to ensure ULLS-G (Unit Level Logistics System-Ground), SARSS (Standard Army Retail Supply System) and SAMS (Standard Army Maintenance System) traffic gets through.”

“VSAT is great,” said LTC Jeff Edge, commander of the 148th Support Battalion. “It allows uninterrupted service. Now, our units can communicate and don’t have to worry about retransmitting.”

“CSS VSAT/CAISI does everything it’s advertised to do and more,” said CW5 Robert Tadlock. “This is the best system I ever used–it’s darn near fool-proof.” He held up a chart showing the brigade’s connectivity status for SARSS and ULLS-G. “Look, all of our units are green (operational),” said Tadlock. “We’d never have been able to that without the VSAT.”

“We’ve had no outages–it’s awesome,” said MAJ Robert La Banz, the 48th’s Combat Service Support Automation Management Officer, while CW4 Alvin Faulkner of the CSSAMO said he appreciates that CSS VSAT/CAISI provides the capability to transmit the “026” materiel readiness report generated by SAMS. “This is absolutely crucial,” said Faulkner. “The 026 report tells the brigade staff the current maintenance status and gives a clear and accurate picture of the projected combat power for the fight, enabling the brigade staff to make effective military decisions. It’s a big benefit.”

SFC L.A. Cain said CSS VSAT/ CAISI gives the CSSAMO staff the capability of “more real-time reaction,” such as allowing them to remotely correct ghost record deficiencies, while CWO1 Dextin Cobbs said, “with CAISI, you hit a button and (she snapped her fingers)–the requisition is gone–just like that.” Cobbs said she is also impressed with the ePop software tool loaded onto the system, which includes features such as instant messaging, voice conferencing, application sharing, and help desk remote control, allowing the CSSAMO to centrally manage groups, security policy, features, and message routing across the brigade’s entire enterprise.

While the CSSAMO Soldiers appreciate how CSS VSAT/CAISI enables them to do their jobs better, the brigades’ users appreciate the system’s capabilities, as well.

“This is day-and-night better than what we had before,” said SGT William Terry Spencer of the 1st Battalion/108th Armor Regiment. “We get quick responses, instantaneous sometimes. You can check to see if a part is in before you do your requisition, and get next-day delivery. It’s just like picking up the telephone and talking to your wife at home.”

“And if you see the mouse move and you’re not moving it,” said Faulkner to Spencer, “I might ‘ePop’ you that I’m trying to fix your computer. I can remote-in and fix problems using the ePop program–” “–instead of driving in,” said Cain.

Spencer nodded. “This is great technology.”

A logistics system that enhances Force Protection

While the brigade’s Soldiers rave about CSS VSAT/CAISI’s capabilities in allowing them electronically transmit supply requisitions and receive near-real time status reports on their orders, they also greatly appreciate that it means they no longer have to “drop disk”–meaning to get in a convoy to hand-deliver disks with requisition data to another location–which will keep them off the road and away from improvised explosive devices or ambushes once they deploy to Iraq.

“Here at the NTC, we’ve been able to connect with the world of SARSS and SAMS and other FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) and we haven’t been ‘outside the wire’ (off their base) one time–we haven’t had to,” said PFC Robert Kirby.

“With CSS VSAT/CAISI, we can stay off the roads,” said SPC Bryan Shue of the CSSAMO. “We can stay in our FOB, talk to people in other FOBs, stay in our security. We won’t have to risk our lives to order parts or to troubleshoot someone’s computer.”

“The force protection aspect of CSS VSAT/CAISI–“said Dudney “as long as we can keep people from running disks up and down the road in convoys, it’s got to be a great system.”

“The force protection aspect is a no-brainer,” agreed MAJ Marshall Rich, the brigade’s S6 (communications officer).

COPYRIGHT 2005 U.S. Army Signal Center

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group