LARs: always training the next group of soldiers.
Those three words summarize the roles and responsibilities of a Logistics Assistance Representative. But as with most summaries, while these words give the basic outline what a LAR is all about, they don't paint the entire picture.
Take Bill Flynn, a Standard Army Management Information Systems Logistics Assistance Representative with the Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command. When he found out that Soldiers of the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Brigade Combat Team would not be fielded Combat Service Support Satellite Communications systems prior to their National Training Center rotation, he went outside his lane and started a campaign with the Army G4, the Product Manager, Defense Wide Transmission Systems, the U.S. Army Materiel Command Logistics Assistance Office, the NTC's LAO and the Fort Irwin Combat Service Support Automation Management Office to get a suite of CSS SATCOM systems fielded to Fort Irwin. Now, all units slated for deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan that have not been fielded CSS SATCOM can be trained on the systems and develop tactics, techniques, and procedures before they reach theater.
"Our motto, as LARS is 'Train yourself out of a job,'" said Flynn. "But with new operators, and new rotations, I'll never be out of work."
And Flynn never seems to stop working. Even while bouncing down a dusty road in an SUV, on the way to the "in the box" training area of the NTC to support Soldiers of the 48th BCT, Flynn is on the cell phone, returning a call to a customer at another Army base to talk them through a software procedure.
Computers and the Army are in Flynn's blood. He enlisted in the Army in 1980 and was first assigned as a young private as a supply clerk in Germany. By the mid-80s, Flynn had become a Chinook pilot, later serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War. After leaving the Army, he opened a computer store, which he sold after six years and then served for two years in the Army Reserve. Then he went to work at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., as a civilian contractor writing a computer program to put data from DA Form 2410, "Component Removal and Repair/Overhaul Record"--which is used to monitor life-cycle maintenance actions on components and modules of Army aircraft--into a database.
He caught wind of the concept of LARs and applied for two programs--as a General Aviation LAR and as a STAMIS LAR. He was offered both positions and chose the STAMIS LAR program, seeing it as a better career opportunity. On March 13, 2000, Flynn became one of the first eight STAMIS LARs hired by the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, now known as the Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command.
On May 1, 2005, Flynn was promoted to one of the Army's first STAMIS LAR master technician positions. Barron Williams, who is currently the CE-LCMC deputy director for Readiness, originally put the STAMIS LAR program into existence in 2000. "I'm especially proud of Bill and the other four people selected as STAMIS LAR Master Technicians position--John Pandoliano, Louis Cortopassi, LeRoy Houston and Denis Torres--because we started the STAMIS LAR program from nothing but the broadest of guidance," said Williams. "These guys have made it work, made it relevant and found a way to provide great value to the Army.'
"Bill Flynn has been as critical to the success of Soldiers deploying as anyone," said MAJ Michael Devine, the assistant product manager, CSS SATCOM with the Product Manager, Defense Wide Transmission Systems. "He is one of the finest examples of a DA Civilian living the Warrior Ethos and always putting mission and Soldiers first. Bill's technical expertise, team player orientation and persistence have contributed immeasurably to the success of STAMIS Operations across the Army."
Demands of the LAR program
"Of those original eight STAMIS LARS, there are only two of us left," noted Flynn. "The demands of the program are arduous."
Such as deployments. Flynn has deployed to Bosnia once and to Kosovo twice. In December 2003, he deployed to Baghdad Iraq for four months to provide STAMIS support to the 1st Armored Division. In 2004, he supported the 3rd Infantry Division through a month-long rotation to the NTC and two month-long rotations to the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La. This year, in addition to supporting the 48th BCT of the Georgia Army National Guard through their month-long NTC rotation, he is also supporting the 2/28th BCT of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard through their month-long NTC rotation.
"My family doesn't like for me to deploy," said Flynn--he and his wife have three children. "But, my whole family is committed to what our country's trying to do, so they understand my commitment and the demands of the program."
Besides deployments, what are the other demands of the STAMIS LAR program?
"Well, there's this whole laundry list of STAMIS systems we're responsible for," Flynn said, taking out his business card--printed on the back of the card is a list of many of the key systems he supports--"There's not enough room on the card to list all of the systems," said Flynn. The list on his card includes the Standard Property Book System-Redesign, Standard Army Retail Supply System, Standard Army Maintenance System, Standard Army Ammunition System, Movement Tracking System, Unit Level Logistics System and Integrated Logistics Analysis Program--along with office automation hardware and software and the CSS SATCOM system, which includes Combat Service Support Very Small Aperture Terminals in tandem with the Combat Service Support Automated Information Systems Interface. "You've got to stay on top of your game and know about all these STAMISes," said Flynn. "You've got to be the expert and know how to make them all talk to each other. It's a lot of pressure."
On top of that, that Flynn is the type of guy who just can't rest until he's turned over every stone to not only find the solution his customer needs, but to then take that solution and go beyond. When he was at NTC supporting the 3ID in May-June of 2004, his mission was ostensibly to 'Connect Army Logisticians' with CSS VSATs and CAISIs. But he typically spent 14 to 18 hour days, bouncing in an SUV across the dusty desert with members of the 3ID's Combat Service Support Automation Management Office to wherever the 3ID's units had "jumped" to another location, adding additional capabilities beyond the ability to transmit data--including text messaging, text conferencing, collaboration software and Voice over Internet Protocol telephone capability. As CW2 Angel Montero, a CSSAMO technician for the 3ID, said at the time: "We (he and Flynn) tag-teamed this whole thing. We 'Connected the Logistician' two weeks ago. Now, we're going beyond."
"What we did was take the spirit intended by the term 'Connect the Logistician,"' said Flynn, "and went even further."
Now, units such as the 48th BCT and the 2/28th BCT are able to build on the rock-solid foundation Flynn helped lay and not start from scratch with CSS VSAT/CAISI.
"Bill's done a great job, we couldn't have made it through this endeavor without him," said CW5 Robert Tadlock of the 48th BCT. "He's been with us through rain and shine."
On the way back from the "in the box" training area of the NTC with MAJ Robert La Banz, the CSSAMO for the 48th BCT, Flynn told how, after spending the better part of a year helping train Soldiers of the 3ID in CSS VSAT/CAISI, he was assigned elsewhere when it was time for the 3ID to return to Iraq.
"And now I won't be going with you guys to Iraq, either--I'll be deploying to Afghanistan," he said to La Banz. "I have an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach, like I'm letting you down."
La Banz jumped right in. "Get rid of that feeling," he said, practically making it sound like an order. "You've helped us so much. Train the next group of Soldiers--they'll need you as much as we did."
Mr. Larsen serves as PEO-EIS Fort Monmouth's public-affairs officer.
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|Title Annotation:||Bill Flynn|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2005|
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