Monday, March 17, 2008

More on the aptly-named CAC 
Elevated from the comments section:

Amen! Amen! Remember Murphy's Law? "When the enemy can't get in, you can't get out." I'm in the IT section for a major Reserve command, and the CAC card issues are killing Reserve Soldiers. The active Army has given insufficient thought for how a Reserve Soldier is to get a CAC card reset. Weekends? Ha! Reserve Soldier lives 200 miles from the Army post? Too bad; just take a day off from your mortgage-paying job and drive 6 hours to get a CAC card reset. The AKO account password reset requires a military computer and you have seven days to get to one. No drill until next month and the drill center is 200 miles away? Sorry. No AKO access for you.
I feel your pain and frustration (literally as it is often directed at me and my personnel).
Obviously, name withheld as I continue to work these issues from the inside....

Yeah, I'm not withholding my name, obviously. I'm in the Army still because I believe in its mission and I love soldiers. Not because I need the job. Actually, it's getting increasingly difficult to balance against the full-time gig.

Honestly, I believe the CAC reader situation, and the disdain with which the powers that be treated reserve component soldiers, has a lot to do with a lot of officer's decisions to get out after their original 8-year hitches are up. More and more stuff is happening on AKO, and the Army keeps putting more and more hurdles in the way of access.

The problem, in Florida, has been compounded by the Army's decision to kick all M-day soldiers off the network. You need to have your CAC card plugged in just to check your email, and you can't get on the Internet unless you're an AGR soldier.

Until recently, I couldn't go to the Armory and check my own email or download a training document on my own account. As a company commander. I was refused access to the State network, despite repeated requests. I'm leveling with all readers: The stupidity nearly drove me out of the Guard. It would have me seriously think about whether I wanted to command a unit again.

Furthermore, the system is a slap in the face to Guard soldiers. The heart and soul of the Guard and reserve are the M-Day soldiers. Not the full-timers. My platoon leaders cannot do their jobs at drill, because the IT people have decreed that our drilling reservists are second class citizens.

Any fixes are slow in coming, and only after much screaming. After a year, I finally got issued a card reader. Not that I've ever been able to get the thing to work. I'm not sure anyone else has either. I only got 15 for the whole company, even though everyone's required to authenticate their cards using a CAC reader.

Last year, the AKO message boards were alive with reserve component officers telling the AKO staff that their system sucked, that it wasn't realistic for reserve component soldiers, and that the inane requirements were going to drive them off of AKO altogether.

I eventually had to take much of a day off work to go get my CAC card activated. I did on a drill on a Friday. The center's all the way in Miami, and not open on weekends. I'm not going to make my employer pay the price for the Army's IT system by taking a day off my rent paying job. I'm in enough hot water with employers for drills and AT as it is (Yes, I almost got fired for being a Guard member twice in the last three years).

So the Army paid a Captain - and a van load of other officers - to go stand in line in an office somewhere, rather than supervise and plan training.

Sound like a good idea to you? Not me.

The poor underlings on the AKO staff kept responding "we understand your concerns, but this is just the way it's going to be."

My attitude...How it is I can be trusted to sign a 5 million dollar property book, but not trusted to check my own email - or have to beg an already busy full-timer to log in to the network on his CAC card (and exposing him to article 15 if I type in the wrong URL) is beyond me. Only an IT dork could come up with that logic. Maybe it looked good in the Powerpoint brief. But no unit commander ever would have come up with that system.

The way I perceived it, the whole thing was a finger in the eyes of the reserve component.

Don't get me wrong...there is a lot of great stuff happening on AKO. It's not all bad at all. Just the way reserve component troops were treated in the process was bad.

And yes, I've pretty much told my chain of command the same thing already, many times over. Which is why no one saw this rant up til now, in the 2 years it's been building up.

I love the Army. I hate the stupid CAC changeover.

Splash, out


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Of course, these cards are being mandated by OMB. We are having the same problem with Coast Guard Auxilirists who are communication watchstanders. You have to have a card to operate the computers in the command center, but Auxilirists aren't supposed to get the cards. Catch 22.
I retired from the National Guard in 1995. Time and the new acronyms seem to have gotten the best of me. What are AKO and CAC?

I certainly agree with the disconnect between access and other requirements for regular and reserve soldiers. That silly business seems not to have changed.
Hey sir, the problem is that the full timers,AGR&SAs, are in charge now. I am in an IT DIV, TASS BDE and our BDE CDR, BDE CSM, BDE XO, BDE S-3, HHC 1SG and at least two BN CDRs are SA/SSA. No idea what real reservists go through with having a real job. Once a month I get an OPORD for some conference in some tourist hot spot, San Diego, Virginia Beach, Louisville, to be held in two weeks. Problem is, I am a professional with accrdedation this year, my schedule is set at least 60 days out. My son is active duty and goes overseas soon. I was almost forced to use the Family leave act to get out of the DIV CSM's retirement ceremony. And now lets talk about Pure edge and Vista!!
For 8:32 Anonymous:
CAC is Common Access Card. It's the new (five years old?) ID card. It's a "smart card" and has a computer chip that has your photo, demographic info, etc. encoded therein. AKO is Army Knowledge Online, a really badly managed web site that's supposed to become the be-all, end-all for things Army. Get your OMPF. Get your training records. Do training. Download important information. https://www.us.army.mil will bring you to the home page & provide some info.

But as for the CAC PIN reset problem, NGB and USAR should get together and get a CAC PIN Reset (CPR) machine for each armory or reserve center. It's nothing more than a laptop with a fingerprint reader, numeric keypad, two CAC readers (one for the operator, one for the client), and some special software to connect to the national databases to allow reset. You'd have to register a primary responsible party, then go ahead and get regular operators trained (If the operator has an IQ over 60, training will take 10 minutes. 30 minutes if the operator's an officer).

But, agreed. Shouldn't have to lose a day of work to get a freaking CAC PIN reset. That's a really dumb thing.

Any congressmen reading this?

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