Army systems giving clearer picture of force readiness

Wednesday - 2/15/2012, 2:51pm EST

Lt. Col. Bobby Saxon, chief of the Army's Force Management Enterprise Division

Download mp3

It used to take 30-to-50 action officers days, if not weeks, to determine the force readiness of a division, brigade or battalion.

The officers had to pull information from 18 different disparate databases and integrate it into one report.

But now, it takes a handful of action officers about one-tenth the time to find that same information. The Army implemented the Enterprise Management Decision Support (EMDS) and now officers have all that data at their fingertips.

"We are looking at people data, we are looking at equipment data, we are looking at readiness, we are looking at installation data and we are tying all that together so when you are looking at a division versus a brigade versus a battalion, you are able to see that picture in a very common way and in a holistic way," said Lt. Col. Bobby Saxon, the chief of the Army's Force Management Enterprise Division.

Saxon said the focus is on the ender user and how best they can use the information.

"We are in the process of moving toward a dashboard approach and hope to launch that this summer," he said. "We take that readiness information, and take a look at not only people you have on hand, but the state of those people, their training, is anyone sick that couldn't deploy? The same approach applies to equipment, what's on hand? Is it functional?"

The Army had been working on the problem of pulling all the different data sources together in 2005. The Force Management Enterprise Division started working on the database in 2008 and launched it in December of 2010.

"Our system doesn't create any new data," Saxon said. "We take data from multiple sources and make it simpler for people to be able to utilize it as information as opposed to data. Then we apply business intelligence tools to that to help look at some scenarios out in the future, such as rotational rates for units into FY '15, '16 and '17."

He added it cost the Army about $5 million a year to develop and maintain, which includes the software and contractor costs.

"We have tried to take the disparate data sources, bring that into a central place, paint a picture that allows not only a personnel person, or equipment person or readiness person, but senior leaders and commanders can look at this information and make decisions off that information," Saxon said. "In addition to just simply helping with the decision making process, we've helped with some of the simple access to data. Many times I've talked to some our users and previously they literally had to remember dozens of websites to go to and usernames and passwords to get access to that data. Then they had to pull the information out and try to figure out how to marry up the different pieces of information to be able to look at multiple units the same way."

Saxon said they are starting to look at the next set of capabilities for EMDS. He said it would mean bringing in new sources of data, more readiness information and present the data in a way that more end users can have access to it.

"We also recently started some early requirements gathering and will soon go into development for the Army's Global Force Management Data initiative," Saxon said. "The Army is in the processing of completing standing up the Army's org-server, which is taking all the force structure data, bringing it into one place and putting it in a joint format. We will use EMDS to share that information with the joint community in 2012-2013."

RELATED STORIES:
Odierno seeks more efficient Army readiness

Army aims for more speed, security with new IT network standards