Army in Europe publishing program: balancing the need for electronic and printed publications.
The Army in Europe has a long tradition of excellence in publishing. Over the past 20 years, members of the Army in Europe publishing staff have won the Secretary of the Army Award for Publications Improvements and the Army Editor of the Year 11 times. This tradition is a result of command emphasis on ensuring that the right Soldiers get the right information at the right time. This has been achieved by balancing the need for electronic and printed publications.
Army policy must be relevant to the mission and published in a medium that is immediately accessible by those who need it (i.e., leaders, Soldiers, Civilian employees, and family members). This applies regardless of whether the user is in garrison or deployed. Policy must address today's technology and identify changes in responsibilities and organizational structures. This policy is used as the legal basis for all missions and functions; it is also used in the effort to prevent accidents, security violations, and actions that may be illegal, unethical, or wasteful.
In Europe, the Army in Europe Publishing System gives Soldiers online access to policy through electronic publications. It also provides instructions on how to order printed publications and blank forms.
Beginning in 1986, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G6, HQ USAREUR/7A, together with 5th Signal Command programmers, developed the Publications Requirements System, which was an automated, data-based publications-ordering system. PURS was one of the first publications-ordering systems developed by a major Army command. It replaced the tedious process of manually completing DA Forms 4569 and the DA Form 12-series subscriptions.
Initially publications clerks using PURS downloaded their publications requests onto floppy disks and mailed the disks to the publications stockroom located in R6delheim, Germany. Requirements for forms and local publications were then filled onsite and requirements for Army publications were relayed electronically to the United States Army Publications Distribution Center, Baltimore. Developed as a software system to install on unit computers, the final version of PURS required installation of an unwieldy 13 diskettes. To set up and manage the system, the publications clerk needed skills in system administration. Few clerks had these skills.
PURS was the standard system until it became obvious that the technology used to run PURS would not meet the requirements involved in preparing for the year 2000 (Y2K) and the potential consequences of Y2K. It was also clear that PURS could not support deployed Soldiers.
Desert Storm and lessons learned
Desert Storm was the first full-fledged deployment after the end of the Cold War. Lessons learned during Desert Storm showed that publications support for deployed Soldiers had to be improved. In preparation for deployment, Soldiers loaded footlockers with hard-copy publications and forms. A cartoon published at that time showed a Soldier immobilized by the number of pocket-sized booklets he was required to carry in the pockets of his uniform. The picture was too true to be funny.
Once Soldiers deployed, they realized which publications and forms were needed in addition to those they had at hand. In response to emergency requests telephoned in by deployed Soldiers, personnel at both the stateside and European publications distribution centers worked overtime to ship cartons of forms and publications to Soldiers in the Middle East. After Soldiers returned home, pallets of unopened cartons of blank forms and publications were shipped back to the publications distribution centers from the Middle East.
These lessons substantiated the need for a deployable publications system. In response, the United States Army Central Command hired a contractor to run a forms stockroom in Kuwait. At the same time, USAREUR worked with HQDA to initiate a more efficient system for establishing publications accounts for deployed units.
One way to provide immediate access to publications for Soldiers in any location was to post them online. USAREUR therefore created the Electronic Library of USAREUR Publications and AE Forms in March 1996. The library provided USAREUR publications in hypertext markup language and portable document format.
At first, users reacted to the library with caution. Many proponents of publications were reluctant to allow their publications to be available only digitally. Proponents were reassured, however, to learn that the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G6, HQ USAREUR/7A, was evaluating each publication to ensure the intended audience would receive it in the required media (i.e., electronic or printed). At the same time, proponents who insisted on having their publications printed were required to justify the need for printing, based on the intended use and the intended audience. In addition, a standard statement was added to each digital publication to discourage users from printing out individual copies.
For a time, all USAREUR publications continued to be available in hard copy at the United States Army Publications Distribution Center, Europe, after being digitized. Gradually, however, as publications were revised, most of them were no longer printed and stocked. For a while, some users complained that they could no longer order paper copies. Acceptance, however, was growing throughout the command, as substantiated by a captain who called the Army in Europe Publications control officer to complain that the publication he needed was not available electronically.
Support for the library and for implementation of electronic publishing came from an unexpected advocate in 1998-the Chief of Staff, HQ USAREUR/7A.
In the summer of 1998, the CofS tasked staff principals to update their publications and to meet with him on a recurring basis, one-on-one, to provide progress reports on their efforts to bring their publications up to date. To prevent publications from being neglected again in the future, the CofS also made it a requirement for military and civilian proponents of command publications to add an objective to their support forms requiring them to keep their publications up to date.
The CofS then directed that USAREUR regulations be issued only in electronic format. Special construction forms (for example, tractor-feed, carbonless, and accountable forms) and pamphlets intended for use in the field were still being printed. These pamphlets and forms, along with many DA and higher-level forms, continued to be stocked and issued by the USAPDCE.
Today the Library of Army in Europe Publications and Forms is restricted to military and U.S. government users. The library provides links to current unclassified Army in Europe publications and Army in Europe forms. For the few printed items, the library provides guidance on how to order printed copies.
This site is a valuable resource for action officers. Among its many features are templates for staff actions such as decision and information papers, letterhead stationery, templates for preparing digital printing jobs, a dictionary of abbreviations, a full text-search capability, and links to other publications on other Web sites.
Although the library provided online policy for personnel internal to the European theater, a deployable system for ordering publications and blank forms was still needed.
Deployment to the Balkans
The requirement to replace PURS became critical in the fall of 1998 as USAREUR prepared to deploy to the Balkans. To ensure deployed units would be able to establish publications accounts in deployed areas, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G6, HQ USAREUR/7A, negotiated with HQDA to obtain 100 so-called "Vaccounts," which would be locally assigned to units deployed to the Balkans. The accounts would also be used by to support deployed Reserve and National Guard units.
Initially V-accounts were used to requisition only publications and blank forms, but as it became clear that the peacekeeping mission would last longer than six months, permission was obtained from HQDA to allow deployed units to subscribe to changes and revisions to publications as well. This was especially critical to aviation units, which required the frequently issued changes to technical manuals.
Although USAREUR units were already familiar with the PURS ordering system, units deploying from CONUS could not be expected to install the 13 PURS floppy disks and learn the many "workarounds" to avoid hardware problems when ordering publications and forms.
USAREUR Publications System
To solve the problems inherent in PURS for deployed Soldiers, the USAREUR Publications System was developed and activated in April 1999. UPUBS was a Web-based publications and forms ordering system for all units, whether in garrison or deployed. Units deployed to the Balkans were the first to test UPUBS, and the results were a resounding success. By June of 1999, UPUBS was the mandatory system in the European theater for ordering publications and blank forms. UPUBS automated all paper processes to maximize convenience and efficiency for the Soldier. In 2000, UPUBS introduced features still in the planning stage at HQDA. Among those was a module that supported the editing and publishing process as well as modules that enabled the USAPIDCE and the USAREUR Publications Control Officer to track printing, requisitions, and inventory. The system soon was being used to manage more than 2,000 publications accounts both in the central European region and downrange.
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As a result of its innovative and effective use of automation to publishing requirements, UPUBS won the Secretary of the Army Award for Publications Improvements in 2002 and the first-ever Army Knowledge Management Award for Best Business Initiative in 2003.
Army in Europe Publishing System
On Oct. 1, 2002 the United States Army Installation Management Agency, Europe Region Office, was established. In preparation for that, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G6, HQ USAREUR/7A, negotiated with elements of HQ USAREUR/7A and IMA-E to ensure that policy in USAREUR publications would continue to apply to IMA-E after IMA-E was activated. This would be done by publishing policy in one set of regional publications that apply to both USAREUR and IMA-E. Proponency for the policy would be identified in the authentication block. These regional publications were designated "Army in Europe publications." The director, IMA-E, approved this proposal on Sept. 30, 2002, and the CofS, HQ USAREUR/7A, approved it on Oct. 1, 2002. The Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army liked the idea so much that proposed changes were requested to AR 25-30 and DA Pamphlet 25-40 to establish this new media for the entire Army for use in each of the Army's seven regions.
After reviewing the proposed changes, however, the OAASA determined that MACOMs and IMA regional offices in CONUS did not need regional publications. Consequently, the medium remained unique to the Army in Europe.
The switch from USAREUR to AE publications led to changing the name of the USAREUR Publications System to the Army in Europe Publishing System. The word Publications in the name of the system was changed to Publishing to show that the system did much more than simply serve as an ordering system; AEPUBS had become the backbone of publishing in Europe and the system for managing the lifecycle of publications and forms.
Deployment to Afghanistan
AEPUBS was key to supporting the deployment to Afghanistan. Many of the units deploying were already familiar with AEPUBS, either because they were stationed in the European central region or had previously been deployed to the Balkans where they first used AEPUBS. Recognizing the benefits AEPUBS was having for deployed Soldiers, the United States Army Publishing Directorate established a permanent requirement for units deploying from CONUS to use AEPUBS to establish publications accounts while deployed.
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During the deployment it became apparent that the Army's Less Paper Policy had gone too far. Deployed units needed aviation forms on cardstock, but the forms were available only electronically. Troops in deployed areas had no printing capability. Consequently, the European publications stockroom began printing and stocking aviation forms for deployed units. As time went on, the European stockroom printed medical and other forms that were unavailable in hard copy. Another problem faced by the European stockroom was the fact that the quantities of hard-copy forms available from the St. Louis publications distribution center were severely limited. Proponents had seemingly forgotten that a good portion of the Army was deployed in a war and assumed that everyone could just print off what was needed. As these problems arose, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G6, HQ USAREUR/7A, turned to the APD for assistance. The APD responded by increasing quantities of printed items, such as wartime certificates.
Printing control and Operation Iraqi Freedom
Starting Oct. 1, 2003, funding for printing was transferred from USAREUR major subordinate commands to IMA-E and placed under the Regional Chief Information Officer--Europe (RCIO-Europe). This change took place while the 1st Infantry Division was preparing to deploy to Iraq. The RCIO-Europe (who is "dual-hatted" as the assistant deputy G6, USAREUR, now reviews all printing requirements for USAREUR and IMA-E, including the garrisons. This centralized control ensures that the legal and regulatory requirements mandated by the Joint Committee on Printing and by APD are enforced. It also ensures cost-effectiveness and standardization of printed products.
As an example of how to use this new arrangement to ensure efficient and effective printing, the RCIO-Europe and the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G1, HQ USAREUR/7A, worked together on a project to edit, publish, and print a series of deployment and reintegration guides. This enabled units scheduled to deploy or redploy to order copies of the guides before deploying or redeploying.
In addition to avoiding unnecessary printing costs, this centralization of printing approval relieved Soldiers of the burden of researching and writing various unit guides, provided standardized information to all Soldiers, reduced redundancy of information throughout the command, and provided top-quality products at the lowest possible prices.
Electronic publishing and deployment considerations
Electronic publishing enables users to find what they need online. For proponents of publications, electronic publishing provides an easy and quick way to keep publications up to date. In addition, electronic publishing prevents spending money on printing and stocking publications that need not be printed.
Some Soldiers in some circumstances, however, lack the capability of downloading publications and forms, particularly while deployed. Personnel working for the Army who are proponents of publications and blank forms should keep this in mind when determining the appropriate media for their products (i.e., electronic, electronic and printed, or just printed). If a publication will be needed in a deployed area, for example, or required by users who do not have ready access to online services, proponents should make allowances in their budgets to print specific quantities of the document to ensure that Soldiers, civilians, and families who need copies will in fact be able to get them.
An example of why some publications need to be available in printed media arose in 2004. While providing publications assistance to units deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and in reviewing printing requests, it became clear that TMs were no longer available from the distribution center at St. Louis. TMs are critical for the maintenance of aircraft, wheeled and tracked vehicles, and other equipment. The lack of hard-copy TMs degraded the safety of deployed Soldiers.
When the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G6, HQ USAREUR/ 7A, raised this concern to HQDA, the director, APD, substantiated that neither the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command nor the United States Army Logistics Supply Activity had budgeted for printing field manuals or TMs, or for producing these publications on CD-ROMs. If Soldiers did not have online capability to download and print publications and changes, they simply would have to do without the manuals they needed.
To raise this problem to the highest level, the deputy commanding general/chief of staff, USAREUR/7A, signed a letter addressed to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army to voice his concern and to request that TMs needed in Afghanistan and Iraq be printed as soon as possible. The DCG/CofS then visited the administrative assistant to the Secretary of the Army to reiterate his concern for the welfare of Soldiers who lacked the manuals they needed. As a result, printing funds were allocated to print the most critical TMs.
Hard-copy shipments to the Desert
In 2004, the USAPDCE shipped hundreds of thousands of blank forms to the Middle East. In addition to filling routine requests for stocked forms, the USAPDCE responded to a number of deployment-related requirements for printed material. For example, the USAPDCE shipped more than 232,000 federal postcards for voter registration and absentee ballots, and 122,000 federal write-in absentee ballots for general elections were shipped to the United States Central Command, ARCENT, and USAREUR units deployed to the Middle East to ensure that every deployed Soldier had the opportunity to vote in the U.S. election. In addition, the USAPDCE printed and shipped nearly 65,000 U.S. government transportation requests to Kuwait to support the Rest and Recreation Program for deployed Soldiers. In the Continental U.S., the R&R form was out of print and HQDA had to procure it through other government offices. Without this form, the Kuwaiti government would not allow U.S. Soldiers to leave and return through its airports. The USAPDCE also printed and distributed more than 240,000 aviation forms for deployed aviation units in 2004.
Electronic publishing is the most effective and efficient method of getting the right information to the right people at the right time, but we should not lose sight of the mission. The publishing mission is to ensure that Soldiers have the publications and forms they need to accomplish any mission, anywhere. If that means providing printed publications in some situations, so be it. By considering the needs of the Soldiers who depend on publications and forms, the Army in Europe is balancing new technology with a requirement as old as the Army itself-the requirement for clear and immediate directives with which to accomplish the mission.
Ms. Brehm is with the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G6, HQ USAREUR/7A.
AE--Army in Europe AEPUBS-Army in Europe Publishing System APD--Army Publishing Directorate ARCENT -Army Central Command Cof S--Chief of Staff DCG--Deputy Commanding General IMA-E--Installation Management Agency, Europe MACOM--major Army command OAASA--Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army PDF--portable document format PUBS--Publications Requirements System R&R--Rest and Recreation TM--technical manual UPUBS--USAREUR Publications System USAPDCE--United States Army Publications Distribution Center, Europe
Fig. 3 Army in Europe Publishing Program electronic and printed AE publications Electronic and Printed AE Publications * Electronic Paper AE Publications 92% 8% AE Forms 75% 25% * Figures current as of March 2005. Note: Table made from pie chart.
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|Author:||Brehm, Mary Ann|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2005|
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