By Dustin Stewart
Best Defense guest columnist
Is the Army's Digital Training Management System (DTMS) more of a hindrance on the force than a benefit? Seriously, there is a lot to be discussed here. Why should a General be able to drill down to the company level to see what I am doing on a particular day at a particular time? Why should big Army try to see if a weapon (by serial number) is assigned to a specific Soldier? I have hard enough time keeping a simple Excel spreadsheet straight with which rifle belongs to which Soldier . . . and is Big Army really concerned that I don't have a rifle assigned to someone? Isn't that what I'm paid to ensure happens?
Instead of providing a visually acceptable product to my PLs and PSGs depicting upcoming training schedules, I am forced to give them garbage that DTMS produces because I simply do not have the time to enter training into DTMS and then turn around and repeat the process in a better medium (PowerPoint, Word, etc). I am able to tweak it a little when I screenshot it into PowerPoint, but it is not the product that I should be giving them. I can only have my young training room NCO do so much when it comes to this because training schedules are constantly in flux. I don't have an S3 to do it, so I am forced to do over 50 percent of the inputting into DTMS.
Ideally, I should be able to just provide MY boss (the battalion CDR) a copy of some battalion or company format of a training calendar and that's that. Instead, it seems like the POTUS needs to know what my company is doing, so hours of my time are consumed with this archaic website (its amazing how most govt websites are about 5 years behind the private sector...ok, not really that amazing).
I'm positive I'm not the only one that wants to personally dismantle the DTMS server.
I know it is important to pick one's battles and DTMS might not be an appropriate topic for a Co Cdr to worry about, but these things add up…and it simply does not replace actual boots on ground assessment and dialogue by a Field/General grade Cdr for actually knowing what his/her companies are doing. If the Army continues down its path of information hoarding, companies will need to be MTOE'd a couple extra PAX to do it right IMO. I could be totally wrong -- could be that many Cdrs are able to get out to their unit's training AND ensure the beast is always fed. I would like to know: Does anyone actually think the trouble of DTMS is worth it?
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.