Sunday, February 15, 2004

What Hath God Wrought? 
Sorry it's been a few days. Lost some Internet connectivity temporarily, but I've got it back again now. For some reason the Army server blocks certain kinds of bulletin board pages, including the page I need to access in order to update the site.

Not that I've had much time to write, anyway.

My life now is a whirlwind of transportation requirements, ammunition requirement forecasts, connexes, milvans, cleaning supplies, inventories, and shortage annexes.

Somehow the Army functioned for generations without the help of Excel spreadsheets. Just four years ago I did a National Training Center rotation as a Battalion S-1. Somehow the S-4 (logistics officer) and I ran the whole supporting arms show using a couple of maps, overlays, pencils, some sheets of paper we wrote a little support matrix on for operations orders (simply listing things like grid coordinates for resupply points and casualty collection points and a time schedule), and two little green US Army issue notebooks. One for me and one for him.

Now, everyone with a bright idea is demanding an excel spreadsheet. ("Can you get it to me on digits?")

So half my time is fighting the spreadsheet battle.

Don't get me wrong--Excel's a super tool. But it's amazing to see how a battalion, brigade, and division staff's information requirements expand with the new information technologies.

One thing that hasn't expanded is the number of hours in a day to type them all up, though.

One of the resident instructors at the NTC--a major--said something extraordinarily prophetic. "We have Powerpoint now, and it's going to ruin the Army."

He meant it as a joke. It was a throwaway comment designed to get a chuckle from the officers present, and we moved on to the after action review, er, Powerpoint presentation.

This was 1999.

The man was a visionary.

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