SUPPLIES TO AFRICA: A shipment of M4A1 rifles arrived in Dakar, Senegal, on Jan. 21, 2022. The ALE is currently tailored toward USASAC country program managers, central case managers, logistics management specialists and specific supply technicians. (Photo by the author)
New online resource gives FMS workforce a technical edge.
by Tim Hanson
Digital transformation is more than just technology—it is also a cultural transformation. The need for technical training within the Army foreign military sales (FMS) workforce has been around for many years. How individuals receive that information and participate, however, is changing.
Both the Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU), as well as the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation (DASA (DE&C)), have curriculums that are helpful with understanding the basics of the security assistance mission at DOD and Army levels. They fall short when it comes to specific daily tasks within organizations, according to Kyle Crawford, chief of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command’s (USASAC) Foreign Military Sales Operation Training Division.
USASAC recognized this training gap and created a tool called Agile Learning Environment (ALE), by which the workforce can access training and reference material relevant to their daily tasks.
“We took steps to stand up a dedicated FMS Operational Training Division to focus on our core workforce and the technical tasks that those personnel perform every day,” Crawford said. “This was the genesis of our division, and as we looked at our mission, we landed on milSuite as the tool of choice. It was available, easy to learn and something we could immediately start to use.”
The Army’s milSuite platform is an outlet for DOD workforce to connect, collaborate and learn from one another via a suite of products, including milBook, milTube, milWiki and milUniversity. These tools are like what individuals use in their daily lives but can be used under a Common Access Card-enabled environment to help share information within DOD organizations.
“We then used a combination of these tools to build a portal for the workforce. Here, they can access specific training and reference material to their specific job,” Crawford explained. ALE provides a platform for the workforce to connect and collaborate dynamically on specific issues.
“Sometimes I’ll receive questions that may be beyond my current experience or are assigned tasks by external agencies in which the role of the country program manager (myself) is not clearly defined,” said Greg Rogers, country program manager for Africa Command Regional Operations. “The ALE discussion forum is a venue that enables country program managers to post questions that subject matter experts may then be able to provide experience or insight toward for best practices.”
Rogers added that ALE helped him with his transition back into the security assistance arena when he joined USASAC in October 2021. Rogers had previous experience as a training case manager at an implementing agency, but he had not utilized the Defense Security Assistance Management System in four years. ALE provided numerous “refresher” videos that helped Rogers refamiliarize himself.
Currently, the ALE is tailored toward USASAC’s country program managers, central case managers, logistics management specialists and specific supply technicians.
“Each of these functional positions generated a list of key tasks that they perform on a recurring basis,” Crawford said. “These tasks were then used in building specific regional operations mission essential task lists, which is the foundation of the Agile Learning Environment.” In addition, each task has training material available to help users accomplish that specific initiative.
“The Agile Learning Environment provides me accurate instructions that are easy to understand and follow. Everything is easily accessible and searchable, which helps in reducing errors,” said Alena Zayats, central case manager for Africa Command Regional Operations.
Zayats added that ALE has improved her daily productivity since its implementation in the spring because it allows her to access relevant training, processes and guidance in one location.
“Along with meeting the on-demand needs of the workforce, ALE also offers a calendar of scheduled instructor-led training, or ILT, events that are coordinated to enhance the regional operations’ technical proficiency,” Crawford added.
While the USASAC FMS Operational Training Division focuses on assisting the country teams within the regional operations workforce, Crawford believes ALE has the capability to become a high-powered knowledge management tool for the entire Army FMS workforce moving forward.
“The current structure of the tool allows for sharing information that is common to multiple organizations, but it is set up in a way that allows individual organizations to tailor elements specific to their internal processes and procedures,” Crawford said. “It is adaptable to the uniqueness of each Army organization involved in the FMS mission set.”
The Agile Learning Environment is changing the way the Army Materiel Command security assistance enterprise operates, increasing the availability of information and training necessary to execute the mission, he said.
“From my experience, in the past, the transfer of knowledge across the Army FMS enterprise had largely been conducted via on-the-job training with seasoned professionals. ALE provides a first-stop resource of information, training and user perspective on specific tasks in real time. It allows you to search within the tools to quickly find what you need, when you need it, which adds a ton of efficiency to the process,” Crawford concluded.
For more information contact PEO Missiles and Space at (256) 876-0714 or refer to www.msl.army.mil.
TIM HANSON is a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command. He served in the U.S. Army as a broadcast journalist before earning a degree in broadcast management from the University of Texas at Arlington. Hanson continued his broadcast career as a multimedia journalist for a local CBS affiliate, WHNT News19, in Huntsville, Alabama.