October 17, 2021

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Training records on soldiers’ smartphones and a revised manual

Show up to your unit and somehow your records are jacked up? No rifle range scores, nothing noting you already received your Humvee driver’s license?

For years soldiers have had to go to a Common Access Card-enabled computer, perhaps at the platoon level or higher, to see what was in their training record and let their supervisor know if it was correct.

Not anymore.

Now, soldiers can use a tablet or smartphone and see their records in real-time using the Army Training Network, a secure, web-based portal.

NCOs who manage those records can put the information in while training is underway at the range or in a course.

The move is part of Project Athena, the Army’s way to modernize training records management.

It might seem small, but Brig. Gen. Charles Lombardo explained that those shifts, which involve digitizing records, can transform how soldiers and their training managers approach readiness.

“We don’t even know how much we do annually,” Lombardo said.

Essential training, such as gunnery, can be left off of a soldier’s record. But that’s still a critical measure of how well a soldier performs in one of the most basic tasks — firing a major weapon system.

The new tool comes on the heels of the re-publication and revision of Field Manual 7-0 Training, Lombardo told Army Times on Monday at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting and exposition.

Lombardo heads the Combined Arms Center-Training and his recent work goes far beyond training records.

FM 7-0 is a kind of “how to” for leader development, Lombardo said during a presentation at AUSA. Though originally released in the early 1990s, the revisions are focused on getting the Army’s training to 2028 and beyond, he said.

They’ve added a “fight to train” portion that helps commanders understand the level of training they can sustain to achieve readiness.

That flows into other decision-making areas, Lombardo noted. The Army is also pushing pre-combat training center preparations down to the lower-level units. Soldiers have to figure out how to use the “white space” in their calendar once they’ve gotten their CTC rotation date.

Before, the Army delivered a ready-made package, but that didn’t always fit well with all of the demands on units at lower echelons.

The revised manual ultimately goes back to the core of the training and development paradigm — plan, prepare, execute and assess — which are the building blocks of making relevant training that will help soldiers reach a readiness level.

And they have a model.

“We’re trying to make all of this similar to how aviation does it,” Lombardo said.

When a pilot arrives to a unit, all of their training comes with them, he explained.

Sgt. Maj. Thomas Conn, senior enlisted advisor at the CAC-T, worked a project recently that unlocked jump logs for paratroopers with the XVIII Airborne Corps.

The new requirement means, “a soldier’s jump will be put into their individual training record and will stay with them wherever they go,” Conn said.

It goes further than shooting, driving and flying. Maintenance records are included, too. As is complex engine work for mechanics.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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