FORT IRWIN, Calif. (July 14, 2015) – During a field training exercise here, March 16 -18, Maintenance Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, became the first unit in the Army to apply the Very Small Aperture Terminal, or VSAT, Internet connection to the Global Combat Support Systems-Army, or GCSS-Army, in the field.
The National Training Center is often used as a testing site for equipment and systems for the Army. One such piece of equipment is the VSAT, which is a small dish, which provides internet connection at any location, whether deployed or in garrison. Although the VSAT is not a new piece of equipment, it continues to provide new applications for pilot programs tested on Fort Irwin.
Chief Warrant Officer 1 William Evans, head of the communications and electronics shop in Maintenance Troop, describes the capabilities of the VSAT as “a 90,000 mile journey through millions of dollars of infrastructure and sophisticated equipment, all in less than 700 milliseconds.”
What makes GCSS-Army stand out from previous programs for maintenance management is that it provides real-time updates while using the Internet connection from the VSAT. Previous programs would take several days to process and update part deliveries, work orders, and maintenance scheduling, therefore, slowing down all maintenance operations.
“Maintenance troop is the test bed for wave 2 of GCSS-Army. We not only accepted responsibility, but we were successful in implementing GCSS-Army in a field environment at unit level during 3 training exercises and 10 National Training Center RTU [rotational training unit] rotations while I have been in command,” said Capt. Alan Strange, Maintenance Troop commander.
“GCSS-Army gives the commander the ability to track logistic deliveries, and maintenance scheduling within their unit,” said Staff Sgt. Don Nottingham, from the Maintenance Troop warehouse. The application of the VSAT to GCSS-Army provides immediate updates, expediting Army maintenance and directly increasing the combat readiness level of line units.
“Having the VSAT capabilities improved the supply support activity SSA warehouse, prescribed load list, and shop office operations while in a field training environment,” said Staff Sgt. Shelly Warren, the warehouse noncommissioned officer in charge.
Being able to access GCSS-Army during the field training exercise, therefore, made it easier to distribute clothing, tools, construction materials, vehicles, and repair parts to customers with no wait period. Without the VSAT, all customers would have to wait until the rear detachment personal processed and shipped their parts to the field site in order to receive parts. It would also take longer to delete parts off the deadline report because the parts would first need to retrograde to garrison for processing.
Maintenance Troop successfully tested the VSAT capabilities for GCSS-Army and Supply Support Activity, or SSA, in a deployed environment. In the future, other Army units will have the ability to employ the VSAT once GCSS-Army has been implemented within their unit.