TOPICS & CATEGORIES

By Dolly Rairigh Glass

Some of the people helping to complete the important work done by Team Orlando don’t live in Orlando. Within each service, their specific titles may differ and their day-to-day jobs may differ, and while they are in different parts of the country – and some, in other countries – the jobs they are doing are vital to the overall mission of supporting the Warfighter.

Bill Fischer, PEO STRI's lead Field Service Representative (FSR), is located in Fort Carson, CO, and is one of nine FSRs presently serving at tactical, operational and strategic levels, as well as Centers of Excellence.

Bill Fischer, PEO STRI’s lead Field Service Representative (FSR), is located in Fort Carson, CO, and is one of nine FSRs presently serving at tactical, operational and strategic levels, as well as Centers of Excellence.

One of those groups is the Field Service Representatives (FSR) within the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI). These are retired senior-ranking military officers with expertise in senior leader relationships, training management, and use of simulations for training. The FSRs directly support all levels of the PEO STRI team and report to the Warfighter Outreach Office within the Assistant PEO for Customer Support.

Their mission begins with establishing personal relationships with the senior leadership at the installation where they serve in order to liaise between PEO STRI’s Program Executive Officer (PEO), Deputy PEO, O6 Project Managers, Executives and the General Officer leadership at their locations.

Also critical to their success is keeping the installation’s training leadership aware of PEO STRI’s products and services; to assist PEO STRI staff as they conduct business at FSR locations; and to keep the PEO STRI leadership team aware of customer satisfaction with PEO STRI products and services.

Presently, there are nine FSRs serving at tactical, operational and strategic levels, as well as several Centers of Excellence. PEO STRI has FSRs who serve at Joint Staff J7 Joint & Coalition Warfighting (JCW) at Suffolk, VA; Combined Arms Center – Training (CAC-T) and Ft. Leavenworth, KS; Joint Base Lewis McChord, Ft. Lewis, WA; III Corps and Ft. Hood, TX; XVIII Airborne Corps and Ft. Bragg, NC; Maneuver Center of Excellence and Ft. Benning, GA; Fires Center of Excellence and Ft. Sill, OK; 1st Armored Division and Ft. Bliss, TX; and 4th Infantry Division and Ft Carson, CO.

Training Liaison Officers (TLO) are part of the Program Manager for Training Systems (PM TRASYS) team, and Martin Bushika, Business Manager, PM TRASYS, describes the TLOs, a team of eight, as the “entire command conduit with our fighter customers.”

The exact responsibility for the TLO is not exact at all – it changes with the needs of the base. But they are structured personnel who are a part of the five competencies, which was recently formalized by PM TRASYS, and those competencies are engineering, logistics, resource management, contracts and program management. With people in each of those areas, the idea is to perform multi-disciplined IPTs to support all of their acquisition activities.

The TLO’s support tasks that are appropriate for their competency, and are also structured under an operational support and administrative control. For those under an operation control, they basically support IPT.

“You have a lot of integrated product teams dealing with all the issues of their bases’ training systems,” said Bushika. “The TLO’s are part of those IPT’s and are aware of what’s going on in the acquisition and fielding, the various training capabilities, and they participate to the extent needed.

THE TLO’s are constantly communicating with all the diverse interests at the different bases, and a lot is going on within their community to facilitate the way training capabilities are made available to the Warfighters. “The training and education command for which we essentially produce the training capabilities – we are the materiel developer, and they’re the combat developer, they have requirements and we as the acquisition professional deliver those capabilities,” explained Bushika. “They want to make sure that all these good training capabilities that we put out there, the Warfighter knows about them, how to use them and can get to them efficiently.”

TLO Lynn Stremlau said it is difficult but not impossible to make all their customers happy. “I feel that our personal relationships we create with the face-to-face interactions affords us the opportunity to use those relationships to better know our customers,” he said.

“This allows us to speak to them candidly about the good, and the bad, that we may be experiencing with regard to equipment delivery, funding issues and delivery dates. The very nature of our positions, which is work ‘in the field’ with our customers, facilitates a positive relationship with our customers,” said Stremlau.

PEO STRI’s lead FSR Bill Fischer said he and his colleague FSRs maintain currency in training and training management procedures, know and understand PEO STRI’s products and services and keep their customer fully aware of those capabilities.

He said it’s also important they maintain a continuous dialogue with customers on PEO STRI capabilities and fieldings, escort senior leaders from the installation to PEO STRI for meetings with leaders and briefings by the PMs, arrange for PEO STRI leaders to visit the installations and include the customers in the weekly reports that are sent to PEO and DPEO.

“We are always looking for ways to assist both PEO STRI and the installation, whether it is upgrading a gunnery device, making a change to a digital range complex or setting up a meeting with key installation personnel,” Fischer said.

Fischer said he believes there are several major benefits to having FSRs supporting PEO STRI, beginning with their immediate access to the senior leadership at their locations. “This enables PEO STRI’s senior leaders to have immediate access to the installations’ senior leaders when communications at that level are necessary to resolve issues.”

Another benefit to having the FSRs is the daily contact with the training leaders at their installation that provide a direct conduit between the PEO STRI Project Managers, Program Managers (PM) and Project Directors (PD) and the installation’s training leaders, who facilitate PEO STRI’s fieldings of new products. They serve as linchpins between PEO STRI and the installations for the fielding of newly developed training capabilities in support of the emerging important capabilities to support home station training.

“And twice a year they personally brief the PEO STRI leadership team on training issues, training management and use of PEO STRI products and services, which keeps PEO STRI leaders fully aware of recent developments in the field,” he said.

All of the FSRs have a broad experience in leading and training Soldiers, and this experience, be it in the infantry, armor, aviation, or field artillery, has prepared the team to assist both PEO STRI and the installation leadership to receive and put into training the capabilities that PEO STRI fields. “We communicate at the same level as the installation leadership because we have the same common leadership and training backgrounds, hence we have credibility with the installation’s leadership and can represent PEO STRI as part of the installation team,” Fischer said.

“The ability to support the Army’s materiel developer for training devices as it develops, fields and sustains training capabilities used by our Warfighters is the best part of being an FSR,” Fischer said. “The reward is seeing young men and women progress through their training regiment, from individual training using capabilities such as the EST 2000 through collective training, using digital ranges and constructive simulations.”

“We also are proud to be part of a process that not only enhances training, but also saves the country money by providing simulations that Soldiers can train in before expending funds on munitions, fuel and maintenance incurred during live training.”

For PM TRASYS’ Stremlau, he said the best part of being a TLO is the diversity of the work. “We represent all of the APMs and therefore work on varying projects that are ever changing. Additionally, we are not tied to a desk, so have the added bonus of working in the field and with our customers face to face.”

“Location, location, location,” said Robert Nazro, Newport, R.I., Naval Air Warfare Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) In-Service Engineer, about the best part of his job. “Being located at the customer brings a lot more focus on the end item and what the trainers are really being used for, as well as how the Fleet plans for and expects upgrades and creates requirements.”

NAWCTSD currently has 90 people on board within their In-Service Engineering Offices (ISEO) division, who are a part of 45 offices around the country and Japan, mainly at the fleet concentration sites. These ISEOs provide localized, cost-effective fleet support and the ISEO personnel, known as In-Service Engineers (ISE), assist in keeping the trainer/training systems current and up-to-date. They also improve trainer/training system’s fidelity throughout their usable life, and implement the weapon system trainer/training system’s life-cycle management support plan, including hardware, software, documentation, information assurance and configuration management.

Rick Lecky, ISEO Division Deputy, NAWCTSD, said it can be a bit more challenging to hire an ISE, as compared to hiring an engineer in Orlando. “Some sites are considered remote and not everyone desires to live near them,” said Lecky. “The key thing is the individuals need to have good technical skills, as well as good people and communication skills, to be successful. They also have to possess a high self-motivation factor because at many of these sites, they are the only person.”

For ISE George Scherer, Whidbey Island, Wash., the best part of his position is the freedom that comes along with it. “I have the freedom to do many different jobs and for the most part, decide when I want to do them,” he said. “I am never bored because there is always some emergency or a last minute data call to deal with at least two or three times a month.”

“But I am not stuck doing it all on my own because I have excellent contractor support,” said Scherer. “I have my own spacious lab and office space, and I get to live in one of the most spectacular places in the USA!”

For Mark Peterson, an ISE in San Diego, Calif., he also likes the freedom associated with his job. “We are on-site engineers, so although we need to follow our engineering practices and procedures, we have the freedom to solve problems in our own way as well,” he said. “We always have a certain amount of peer support, but in the end, it is up to us to figure out how to keep things running. It’s the difference between being a passenger, or being the driver.”

Across the Services, these men and women are making a difference away from their ‘home’ command, and providing important support in remote locations. NAWCTSD’s Lecky summed up what he thought about his ISEO group, but certainly this belief is reflected through the work of the FSR’s and TLO’s as well.

“They are the tip of the spear for NAWCTSD and being located with the Fleet, they hear their concerns and can relay them to the PMs/IPT leads back in Orlando,” said Lecky. “They are the face of NAWCTSD to the training commands and their work directly contributes to the readiness of our Warfighters.”

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