I foresee a military that could be considerably more efficient if it were to embrace technology more fervently. The phrase “Profession of Arms” has been popular in the Army recently, but in my opinion our use of existing technologies falls short of being categorized as professional.
Why are there virtually no Department of Defense (DOD) sanctioned smart phone apps to help us accomplish daily tasks? Where are the apps that allow leaders to manage personnel and tasks? How much more efficient would our force be if every service member had an official DOD approved app on their smart phones that granted them access to their government emails? Why do leaders not have an app that synchronizes with a central medical appointments system and sends out reminders about upcoming appointments that their subordinates need to attend?
We could greatly benefit from a smart phone app that could walk service members through preventative maintenance checks and services on any piece of equipment in their motor pools. As the app grows, more features could be added, like the ability to report deficiencies directly to the Standard Army Maintenance System – Enhanced (SAMS-E) box. Service members could even snap pictures of the deficiencies that might accompany the reports.
Why haven’t military publications been reformatted for better reading on smart phones and all stored electronically on a DOD server? Instead of waiting years to update regulations, they could be updated instantly and notifications could be sent out announcing the updated version.
S1 operations could be streamlined by allowing service members to upload documents in Army Knowledge Online (AKO). These documents could then be added to a queue and verified before being added to their official military personnel file. Why do service members need to go to S1 to make minor corrections, like updating mailing addresses, on their enlisted/officer records brief? Why is it necessary to go through S1 to update our Soldiers Group Life Insurance beneficiaries?
Why does the military have such an obsession with designing websites for use with outdated software like Internet Explorer when better options, like Google Chrome, exist?
Have you ever noticed that every military run website is poorly designed, nearly impossible to navigate, and requires numerous, inane measures to access? Do you not consider it a travesty that the best source for service members facing problems using their Common Access Cards (CAC) is a website that has no affiliation with the DOD (other than its owner being an active duty Warrant Officer)? Why do we need to install additional software to digitally sign documents if we can already access various other resources with our CACs? Have you ever sat at S1 all afternoon waiting to be seen to do something as simple as updating your Enlisted Record Brief (ERB)?
For operations not classified as “secret” or higher, why can’t each branch have one website that is easy to navigate, requires no additional authentications once logged on, and houses the majority of things we need for our daily tasks? Why are there so many different websites, with different access requirements? To name a few, MyPay, the Defense Travel System, Army Knowledge Online and Enterprise Email could all be integrated into one central website.
If professional businesses, which are also extremely vigilant in guarding access to information, can manage to easily grant access to something as simple as email, why is it so hard for the DOD to adopt similar options? The phrase “hurry up and wait” shouldn’t be something we find funny, it should be something we try to eliminate.
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*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.