Seventeen Soldiers and civilians from various Army components successfully completed a six week verification process for a new update to the Combat Service Support Very Small Aperture Terminal, or CSS VSAT, technical manual. This verification process took place in the Mallette Training Facility, or MTF, located on APG North (Aberdeen) .
This technical manual, or TM, verification was hosted by the Project Manager Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems, or PM DCATS, an Army acquisition activity at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and its subordinate product office, Product Lead Defense-Wide Transmission Systems, or PL DWTS.
PL DWTS procures and fields the CSS VSAT systems that are employed “around the world,” according to Product Lead, DWTS, Lt. Col August Muller IV. They are small satellite terminals that enable the rapid transmission of supply information so that parts, equipment or components can be ordered and delivered quickly.
“Basically when a unit goes to the field for training or if they deploy oversees this would be a capability they would use to manage their logistics support requirements,” he said.
TM verification process
In 2015, contractors from Systems Technology, Inc., or Systek, began writing individual work packages for the CSS VSAT technical manual, or TM, with step-by-step instructions for diagnosing specific problems. Before accepting the TM, the government performed a validation to confirm that the TM is complete and technically accurate.
Assistant program manager and CSS VSAT sustainment lead Ruby Hancock-Howard, with PM DCATS, said accuracy is critical.
“The TM verification is a follow-on step which ensures the TM is written in a way which is understandable and useful to the same Soldiers who will rely upon it in the field,” she said.
According to Hancock-Howard, a proper TM ensures Soldiers in the field have the thorough instructions necessary to perform challenging repairs on complex systems.
“Think of it as similar to a guidebook for repairing your car engine on the side of a desert road, rather than having to tow it hundreds of miles to the nearest service station, ” she said.
During the technical manual verification process, seven Soldiers served as target audience members, reviewing 172 work packages for edification, grammar and functionality in regards to the system.
“As of March 8, they are at 100 percent of the work packages that they have to review,” Hancock-Howard said.
Participants were recognized for their efforts during a briefing attended by Project Manager, DCATS Col. Charles Stein and Muller at the MTF on March 3. Ronald Durkel, Director of the Enterprise, Soldier and Aviation Directorate at the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, also attended the event and thanked all participants.
Prior to the award recognition ceremony, Soldiers used the manual to trouble shoot a fault with the CSS VSAT in a demonstration led by CW4 Kelvin Bouldin, with the Combined Arms Support Command from Fort Lee, Virginia.
Stein applauded their effort and called their effort “fantastic.”
“You put the process in place to show how to fix something that goes to a satellite in space,” he said.
With the verification complete, the TM will be sent to Headquarters, Department of the Army, to publish as an official Department of the Army Authenticated Publication. This process takes roughly six months, Hancock-Howard said.
“The total process from drafting to publication deals with an enormous amount of detail and takes approximately two to three years,” she said.