Bringing connectivity to GCSS-A in the field

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Photo by 11th ACR

During a field training exercise March 16 to 18, here, Maintenance Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment became the first unit in the Army to apply the Very Small Aperture Terminal internet connection to the Global Combat Sustainment Systems-Army in the field.

The National Training Center is often used as a testing site for equipment and systems for the United States Army. One such piece of equipment is the VSAT which is a small dish that 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 at Fort Irwin.

Chief Warrant Officer William Evans, head of 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.”

The GCSS-A is a new maintenance management program being integrated into the entire Army and can be accessed with only an internet connection. What makes GCSS-A stand out from previous programs is providing 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 two of GCSS Army,” said Capt. Alan Strange, Maintenance Troop commander. “We not only accepted responsibility, but we were successful in implementing GCSS-Army in a field environment at unit level during three training exercises and 10 National Training Center RTU rotations while I have been in command.”

Staff Sgt. Don Nottingham, from the Maintenance Troop warehouse explains that, “GCSS-Army gives the commander the ability to track logistic deliveries, and maintenance scheduling within their unit.” The application of the VSAT to GCSS-A provides immediate updates, expediting Army maintenance and directly increasing the combat readiness level of line units.

The warehouse non-commissioned officer in charge, Staff Sgt. Shelly Warren, stated that, “having the VSAT capabilities improved the supply support activity warehouse, prescribed load list, and shop office operations while in a field training environment.”

Being able to access GCSS-A during a 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 to receive parts until the rear detachment personal processed and shipped their parts to the field site. 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-A and SSA in a deployed environment. In the future, other units within the Army will have the ability to employ the VSAT once GCSS-A has been implemented within their unit. In conclusion, the VSAT will surely provide internet capabilities and enhance the efficiency of all units at Army deployment locations.