DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
XVIII AIRBORNE CORPS
FORT BRAGG, NORTH CAROLINA
US ARMY CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY
WASHINGTON, D. C.
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
Oral History Interview
DSIT AE 051
70th Ordnance Battalion
WO1 Robert Brown (Materiel Officer)
SGT Catherine Keller (Operator)
Interview Conducted 20 February 1991 at Logistical Base CHARLIE, Northern Province, Saudi Arabia
Interviewers: MAJ Robert B. Honec, III, and SSG LaDona S. Kirkland (116th Military History Detachment)
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
7 August 1990 - 15 May 1991
Oral History Interview DSIT AE 051
MAJ HONEC: All right. This is an Operation DESERT STORM/DESERT SHIELD interview. I am MAJ Robert B. Honec, along with SSG LaDona S. Kirkland, both of the 116th Military History Detachment; and SGT Dorothy McNeil of the 130th Military History Detachment. We're here today at the ASP1 at Log[istical] Base CHARLIE run by the 70th Ordinance Battalion. And we're talking to ... would you state your full name, your rank, your unit of assignment, and how long you've been in that capacity, please?
WO1 BROWN: I'm WO1 Robert Brown, in the 70th Ordnance Battalion MATO Section, and I've been assigned for 18 months.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do you have a middle initial?
WO1 BROWN: No, I don't.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Social security number?
WO1 BROWN: ***-**-****.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, great. What we're basically interested in, of course, is the innovations that the ASP has had to do to account for ammunition, great quantities of ammunition coming into theater and even more, as we sit here in Log Base CHARLIE on the 20th of February, 1991, how it continues to use these innovations to account for the huge amount of ammunition in this ASP, Ammo Supply Point. Could you go ahead and expound on, first of all, the accounting that was done back when your unit first came over? I understand that you were a theater ammunition supply point at one point.
WO1 BROWN: That is correct.
MAJ HONEC: And then bring it forward to here in a chronology, please.
WO1 BROWN: Okay. The first ammo supply point we set up was at KKMC2 which was TSA3-4, and approximately two weeks later we also picked up the mission in conjunction with TSA-4 [for] Log Base CHARLIE.
MAJ HONEC: Is there a date? I didn't catch the ...
WO1 BROWN: Okay, date.
MAJ HONEC: Was it near Christmas?
WO1 BROWN: It was before Christmas.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, before Christmas.
SSG KIRKLAND: Where was that?
MAJ HONEC: King Khalid Military City is KKMC.
WO1 BROWN: I want to say the 13th of December we started to do that. And I think about ...
SSG KIRKLAND: Did it have a name?
WO1 BROWN: 18th or 19th we set up TSA HARDIN at the same time. So 70th Battalion had both missions, a theater and a corps, simultaneously. We had two ammo ordnance companies. One was National Guard and the other was a Reserve unit; 479th was the Reserve unit, which was taking care of TSA HARDIN, and the 638th which started TSA-4, the National Guard unit. The problems ...
MAJ HONEC: Yes?
WO1 BROWN: ... were insurmountable. Both the Reserve unit and National Guard unit had crash courses before they left on TACS box operations.
MAJ HONEC: You're talking about the computers that you used to account for the ammunition?
WO1 BROWN: Right. Absolutely. The other problem we encountered is the only officer in the battalion with any TACS experience was LT Deaver, who only had OBC.4
MAJ HONEC: And what capacity was he in at that time?
WO1 BROWN: LT Deaver is, and still is, the assistant MATO officer.
MAJ HONEC: Material ...
WO1 BROWN: Material Officer, Class V.5
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
WO1 BROWN: And I believe he mentioned he had two weeks on the TACS box. I, myself, am not an ammo technician, so I've had no experience with the TACS box. So the expertise we relied upon was SGT Keller and SGT Burdine. SGT Burdine had a tour in Korea and evidently he is experienced in working with large quantities of ammo at the SAAS-4 level.
MAJ HONEC: Could you give his full name, please?
WO1 brown: Yeah, its ...
MAJ HONEC: SFC?
WO1 BROWN: [SGT] (E-5) Zant Burdine. I don't know his middle initial.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Zant is spelled Z-a-n-t. Okay. And since SGT Keller, SGT (E-5) Keller is here, could you give me your full name and social security number?
SGT KELLER: SGT Catherine Keller, ***-**-****.
MAJ HONEC: Thank you.
SGT KELLER: You're welcome.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Please continue.
WO1 BROWN: SGT Keller had three or four years experience at?
SGT KELLER: SAAS-3 level.
WO1 BROWN: SAAS-3 level. Back at Fort Bliss.
MAJ HONEC: SAAS being the software package that is used to account for the ammunition. How do you spell that? S-A-S-S?
WO1 BROWN: S-A-A-S.
MAJ HONEC: What is it again?
WO1 BROWN: S, double-A, S.
MAJ HONEC: S, double-A, S?
WO1 BROWN: Right. SAAS-4 is the lowest level, which reports to SAAS-3; they convert the disks to tape and then the tape goes ... does its thing; goes up to SAAS-1.
MAJ HONEC: Exactly the information we need. Yeah ... all right. Okay, insurmountable problems. Had to run two missions at one time.
WO1 BROWN: Two missions at one time with no technical expertise, and nobody available to give us the technical expertise. I was given the opportunity to go to Dhahran to supposedly meet up with a civilian that was over here at the time for some training. I had a lot of questions that needed answering, and I couldn't wait.
MAJ HONEC: Do you know the civilian's name?
WO1 BROWN: No, I sure don't. When I got to Dhahran, he left to go back to the States the day before I got there.
MAJ HONEC: And what agency was he with?
WO1 BROWN: Couldn't tell you.
MAJ HONEC: Couldn't tell me. Quite all right. Okay.
WO1 BROWN: But he was the man responsible for doing SAAS-3 and SAAS-4 interface training. So the reason I had to go down there was because here we were getting these requirements for the disks to be fed into SAAS-3, and we needed to know, you know, to get the data in, number one, we needed the system, a complete operational system from beginning to end; you know, paper work, audit trail, verification, and all this garbage. Everybody knows garbage in, garbage out of a computer.
MAJ HONEC: Right.
WO1 BROWN: So we didn't want any garbage to go out. So that didn't happen; he wasn't there. So ...
MAJ HONEC: So how did you get enough training so you could perform your mission?
WO1 BROWN: I'm trying to think of the point of contact's name at TSA-1, was a Mr. ... TSA-1, I spent two days with them. I have his name here somewhere.
MAJ HONEC: While he's looking, could you talk about the ammunition coming out on the ships? Were they easily ...
SGT KELLER: I don't really know anything about that.
WO1 BROWN: No visibility.
SGT KELLER: Yes.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, that's fine.
WO1 BROWN: Now, at any level and any place you are with the TACS box, it's my understanding that we're supposed to be getting a due-in, whether it's a hard copy or on disk. I've never seen any of them. I've seen two since I've been here. So there's a breakdown there.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. We'll document that.
WO1 BROWN: Okay ... no, that's not it.
MAJ HONEC: Theater Support Area is, of course, what TSA means. All right, you cannot find the contact at TSA-1 that gave you two days' worth of training?
WO1 BROWN: Right. Basically, everything he was telling us, he had the same growing pains we did. Evidently, nobody has had ...
MAJ HONEC: [C]W-2 ... okay.
WO1 BROWN: CPT Hoffer or LT Deaver would know.
MAJ HONEC: Well, we can move on. I was interested in documenting the improvements that had to do with using a program with LOTUS 1-2-36 as opposed to SAAS on the TACS computer system. Why did you go with ... what did you do on LOTUS 1-2-3 that augmented your operation?
WO1 BROWN: Okay. LT Deaver initially started the data base. It took him approximately two months to compile in the States. The reason we chose the ... chose LOTUS on the DOS operating system is because of speed and familiarity. We were familiar on how to get the data out the way people actually need this data.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
WO1 BROWN: TACS box ... okay, you can have data processors input the data, but getting the reports that everybody wants, you just can't do at SAAS-4 level.
MAJ HONEC: What sorts of reports?
WO1 BROWN: Short ton totals, short tons received, short tons issued on a daily basis.
MAJ HONEC: These are products not put out by the SAAS system which should be putting it out for your ASP operations? So those are future modifications that you say probably would be good to see?
WO1 BROWN: Well, see, then again I was told that at SAAS-4 level that was not information that we needed.
MAJ HONEC: But, obviously, you're being asked for it here at the -4 level?
WO1 BROWN: Yes. It's a local requirement which is escalated, because our data has been coming out of our machines a lot quicker than the TACS box. And now everybody is relying on our reports over the TACS box.
MAJ HONEC: I see.
WO1 BROWN: Because once the TACS box goes and does its gyration ...
MAJ HONEC: Number crunching.
WO1 BROWN: ... and mandatory processing, SAAS-4, battalions to DOS disk, the SAAS-3 interface disk, it will take ... well, it has taken 2d MMC,7 which is only a couple hundred yards away from us over here, two days to come up with the report because of all the requirements that they have to fulfill to get the data from disk to tape and then from tape to paper. So we can have ours out ... I'm not saying it's any easier with LOTUS, because it takes one person anywhere from four hours to sixteen hours after we receive what has happened in one day, because, you know, we need to go back in and verify, yes, this issue actually took place and that's the number that actually left. On the TACS box you have a pre-post or pre-issue and a post-post and post-issue.
MAJ HONEC: These are modules that you have to go through to process the data?
WO1 BROWN: SGT Keller can explain the mod.
MAJ HONEC: SGT Keller? These are phases that SAAS requires you to go through, you know, the account?
SGT KELLER: Yes. First, you have to pre-post what you're going to issue, receive, turn in, or whatever. And then once you initially do that transaction, then you go back and verify that yes, you did do it. It's just ... you know, every transaction you do has two phases to it.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, very well.
WO1 BROWN: Very time consuming, too.
SGT KELLER: Very slow computer.
MAJ HONEC: You say it's a very slow computer? Okay.
SGT KELLER: Right now I'm waiting for it to do a report, and we've been here, what? A half-hour waiting for it. It's still sorting.
MAJ HONEC: You've been there one half-hour or more waiting for it to finish its sort of the records?
WO1 BROWN: Yes, sir. It's right now in sort phase one of three phases.
MAJ HONEC: That's very interesting.
WO1 BROWN: That's the frustrations of the TACS box. Now, these post-postings and pre-posts and all of these other things that you have to do, the operator will sit at the computer, plug his numbers in, and listen. One of those buttons that make the machine take the data in, store it in memory, and if a report was to come out, the minimum amount of time per transaction we're talking about is four minutes. That's how long it takes that box to go through all of its ...
MAJ HONEC: Processing.
WO1 BROWN: ... internal processing.
SGT KELLER: Yeah. It has to catch up with the operator. That's how slow it is. The changes take a minimum of three sorts for each.
WO1 BROWN: I'm not going to put the TACS box down totally because it is a good computer. It's a good concept. It's a multi-user system, meaning you can have three users with three different terminals doing different transactions. However, once in a while we have experienced when the system crashes it was a duplicate ...
MAJ HONEC: Record?
WO1 BROWN: Record, right.
SGT KELLER: And it takes ... one person could be doing one thing on one computer and one person could be doing something totally different on the other computer. And if you're receiving something and this person could be issuing something, it will switch up to DODAAC8 and it will be receiving something that this person over here was issuing. Instead of receiving what you actually received, it will take the DODAAC off of the other person's screen and put it into your screen, so that I'll be in that memory, you know, in the memory of the computer, something that you never received.
MAJ HONEC: That sounds like perhaps a bug in the system.
WO1 BROWN: Check. I'm sure it wasn't intended.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. So the DODAAC number--one finds its way into another screen, seemingly.
WO1 BROWN: Right.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Is here at Log Base CHARLIE ... well, let's go back to the operation you did at King Khalid Military City. Did you have the same problems there as you have here in accounting for ammunition?
WO1 BROWN: Absolutely. Using the same computers, TACS box.
SGT KELLER: A lot of it started coming in because they don't have the paper that they're supposed to have for the ammunition coming in. So it's hard to tell what DODAAC is coming in, and the quantity, and where it came from, what truck number, and it comes in without any paper work at all most of the time.
MAJ HONEC: I see. Does it blow off on the highway coming here, do you think, or it's just not included with the shipment, the papers?
SGT KELLER: It's not included with the shipment.
MAJ HONEC: I see.
SGT KELLER: So that when it gets here, instead of looking at the paper to see exactly what you have, then the checkers have to go, themselves, and check out everything on the truck; write down what they had and the quantity. And then if they wanted to take it down range they'd have to do it all over again.
MAJ HONEC: Down range meaning inside the ASP to store it into rows?
SGT KELLER: Yes.
MAJ HONEC: I see. These trucks are coming straight from the port, do you think?
WO1 BROWN: The majority of them that came to KKMC originally, yes. But then we were receiving some from SKIBBIE and some from HEISER.
MAJ HONEC: SKIBBIE is ...
WO1 BROWN: TSA-1.
MAJ HONEC: ... is TSA-1? No? It is not. Those are like two TSA's.
WO1 BROWN: Well, they could be a CSA, too. I didn't get that involved in the operation to find out is SKIBBIE a TSA or is it a CSA.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
WO1 BROWN: TSA-1, -2, -3, or -4.
MAJ HONEC: Now how does this ... how does this software ... the LOTUS 1-2-3 ...
WO1 BROWN: Okay. The LOTUS spreadsheet that we generated ...
MAJ HONEC: It's a spreadsheet.
WO1 BROWN: ... very simple, but it has everything in it to make it as powerful or more powerful than a TACS box. Okay, it has a basic data base [that] has every DODAAC that we thought we'd encounter.
MAJ HONEC: DODAAC is the DOD Accounting Number?
WO1 BROWN: For each ammo support. So we started out with 390 DODAACs in our data base. Well, we're only using about 185 of them because that's all ...
MAJ HONEC: Where did you get those from? You manually entered those?
WO1 BROWN: Okay. We did the research on ... saying, okay, you got the 3d ... 3d ACR,9 you've got the 24th Infantry Division, you've got the 82d Airborne [Division], you've got the 101st [Airborne Division (Air Assault)]. All of these units, they have this piece of equipment, that piece of equipment, that piece of equipment. This piece of equipment fires these kinds of rounds. So we went through the whole book and said okay. We took the worst case scenario, we'd fire everything, we'll give them every bullet that they could possibly fire.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Okay.
WO1 BROWN: And we tried to go through weapon density and all this other stuff.
MAJ HONEC: You tried to combat ...
WO1 BROWN: CCO, combat ...
MAJ HONEC: CCO, combat configuration load.
WO1 BROWN: Right.
MAJ HONEC: Each ... based on the number of vehicles that they have in a unit, and what all the ammunition that particular vehicle needs.
WO1 BROWN: Check. Now, this just ... we'll call it a working model because we knew that the customer themselves would come up with their own requirements. So this was just a working model to see ... to try to get a step ahead of the game. I tell you it didn't work. When we got here everything changed and we had to start from scratch.
The basic data base remained intact, you know, rounds per box; weight of each round; how much each round is, converted to a short ton so we can get our reports on short tons issued, short tons received; how many short tons are on the ground; how many of these short tons are directly put towards the stockage objective in the first place.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. So how did it radically change then, or why did it radically change?
WO1 BROWN: Oh, well, the customers knew precisely how many vehicles they had operational.
MAJ HONEC: I see. They had better information than you.
WO1 BROWN: Of course. We were using book data, you know, printed kind of FM-101-10 ...
MAJ HONEC: -10.
WO1 BROWN: And -1/-2.
MAJ HONEC: -1/-2.
WO1 BROWN: And the companion, where the actual units had exact figures. So that's the only way it changed there. We just went in and plugged in the customers' requirements.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. You modified your data base to be more customer service oriented?
WO1 BROWN: Absolutely, absolutely.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, good.
WO1 BROWN: There's no way to do that with TACS box. I mean TACS box is strictly ammo accounting. It will not crunch the numbers that we wanted, not necessarily needed but wanted. So we could be prepared, we could give our input as to how many bullets we think we should be getting. And if we get drastically low, hey, we'd send a flag up, because there's nobody more intimate with what is on the ground than our units. I mean, SAAS-3 can be two days behind time.
MAJ HONEC: What is on the ground meaning, the number of vehicles?
WO1 BROWN: Number of parts [?].
MAJ HONEC: Number of ...?
WO1 BROWN: We account for parts [?].
MAJ HONEC: Okay. You meant ammunition then. Okay.
WO1 BROWN: And why ... I mean that has to be that way, because that's what we're accountable for. When a bullet comes in, we've got to pick it up on our records as soon as it comes in, even before it was down range. Once it's down ... that's where the pre-posting and post-posting comes in. A convoy of 80 trucks would come up to our door, knock on our door. We'd get the TCMDs ... we're supposed to get the TCMDs, which we don't get.
MAJ HONEC: What are those, TCMDs?
WO1 BROWN: TCMD, they're manifests, transportation ...
MAJ HONEC: They're manifests, transportation manifests which ...
WO1 BROWN: Also computer generated.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, they were supposed to be computer generated.
WO1 BROWN: And TACS box [is] fully capable of generating these forms. Now, whether they were never generated or they got generated in the shipment, we don't know.
MAJ HONEC: You just haven't seen ...
WO1 BROWN: Right. It seriously dampens the operation. Not only do we not get the TCMDs, we also do not know what's coming in until it's knocking on our door.
MAJ HONEC: And this is corps now, it's not theater, so ...
WO1 BROWN: This was at both locations.
MAJ HONEC: At both locations, so it's theater and corps.
WO1 BROWN: We'll call it three locations because at KKMC we had two locations.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
WO1 BROWN: Even though they were adjoining each other. One was the TSA and one was the CSA, and now here which is [CSA] REGISTER. We don't ever get to see these TCMDs. And these disks that we were supposed to be getting for due-in's, which generates the document number that we are supposed to hook up and link up in the computer. And once we do, we put in the active, real figure, and then when that transaction is finished and at the end of the day processes it finished, that disk with that original document number goes back where it came from and cancels out the document number, saying it's good to go. But now ...
MAJ HONEC: It's a completed supply transaction?
WO1 BROWN: Completed ... right.
MAJ HONEC: Is what you mean by "good to go." All right. I understand you, follow you.
WO1 BROWN: But since none ...
MAJ HONEC: But you don't have that!
WO1 BROWN: We don't have any of those.
MAJ HONEC: I see.
WO1 BROWN: So every time we go to input a transaction the computer is going to generate its own document number. That's the nature of the beast. Now with this new document number, there is no way to verify that that ammo that was shipped here can be ... cam cancel out the shipment. It just ...
MAJ HONEC: Because the two document numbers are different by ...
WO1 BROWN: Are different. And not only that. We found that the very few TCMDs that we did get ... okay, we're up to almost 2,000 truck loads just here. TCMD-wise, maybe 80 at the most. So the rest of the trucks, 1,920 trucks didn't come with any TCMDs. The TCMDs that we have received from the port or wherever, don't match. The figures did not match. I mean, we just had some B-542 come in. They said they shipped 34,600 rounds. Well, we did the inventory twice and came up with 30,144. Now, maybe somebody ripped this off--we don't know.
MAJ HONEC: Yeah, in shipment.
WO1 BROWN: But you see what I'm saying.
MAJ HONEC: Right.
WO1 BROWN: The TCMD figures did not match what was actually on the truck.
MAJ HONEC: And you can't tell the people ... you can't tell the people because you've got a different document number?
WO1 BROWN: Check.
MAJ HONEC: You can't tell the people that what you got was not the same number that they sent?
WO1 BROWN: Check.
MAJ HONEC: So there's a problem in accounting right there.
WO1 BROWN: Check.
MAJ HONEC: I understand it fully.
WO1 BROWN: Okay. Say we were missing the TCMD, and we got 30,000 rounds in. And they said, "Oh, we shipped 30,000 rounds to them." So they can say, "Okay, that's the 30,000 rounds we shipped. Poof, cancel that one out." Because I'm sure that all these different levels they're generating all these error messages. I can just imagine what it looks like, page after page after page. And somebody has got to sit down and figure out what's going to cancel what out, because I'm so sure it's pretty damn close. I'm sure they know what they shipped, short tonnage or round-wise--number of rounds. And by the time it gets to TACS box and back to them, they can line by line try canceling them out; process of elimination. And maybe they'll get in fifteen percent of the ball park.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Well, going back to the reports that you generated, who is the consumer of these reports?
WO1 BROWN: You mean ...
MAJ HONEC: Who is requesting ... you produced the reports; who uses these reports?
WO1 BROWN: Okay. Users of our reports: 1st COSCOM11 Commander; Commander 507th [Support] Group; 70th Ordinance Battalion group commander; and Commander of 2d MMC.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
WO1 BROWN: TSA-4 we had a large one because it was a theater mission. More people got involved in that.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Generated by the one ... this is the reports generated through LOTUS 1-2-3? Okay. I see that you're using commercial off-the-shelf computers with commercial monitors, flat screen Zenith EGA12 monitors.
WO1 BROWN: VGA.13
MAJ HONEC: VGA rather, sorry. This is ... they're doing very well here in this desert environment?
WO1 BROWN: Absolutely. Okay, before we left Fort Bliss, [Texas] ... okay. I had been the Information Management Officer and the ADP14 Systems Security Officer for a year-and-a-half at Fort Bliss. But due to budget constraints, we were never able to order any computers, much less update the old boxes that we had. We had the original COMPAQ, the 8088 machines.15 If you think that TACS box is slow. Anyway, DESERT SHIELD came down, DESERT SHIELD opened up that moratorium. You're allowed to order what you need to support DESERT SHIELD. The colonel came to me and said, "Mr. Brown, we need to automate." "Okay, sir, what do you need?" "We got the word and we're going to take care of the theater mission, and I need enough computers to take care of that mission, plus my units." So I went at it, did some research, went and bought the best equipment because I knew there was going to be a lot of number crunching. LOTUS 1-2-3 was the top-of-the-line spreadsheet at the time. In my opinion, it still is. Each one of these laptops is a 386-SX laptop with a math co-processor, with five meg[abytes] of internal RAM.16 It is not ...
MAJ HONEC: Okay. We're talking about the computers, what you ... what you do your main processing on. All these computers have math co-processors in them to do that number crunching that you need.
WO1 BROWN: Yes.
MAJ HONEC: You have three ... I'll let you describe them.
WO1 BROWN: Okay. I have three Zenith SuperSport 386-SX laptops with math co-processors and five meg of internal RAM.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. With ...
WO1 BROWN: Zenith flat screen monitors, VGA.
MAJ HONEC: Three of those.
WO1 BROWN: Built-in modems in the event that we have modem capability. And each laptop has a pocket ethernet adaptor which I planned on networking, using NOVELL Network 386, with my main system which is a Zenith Z-386, 33-megahertz machine with math co-processor and eight meg of RAM, also with the Zenith flat screen monitor.
MAJ HONEC: And what you plan to do with this, I see, is to emulate the TACS system where there's three terminals, is that correct? By using a LAN (local area network).
WO1 BROWN: Well, I didn't ... originally, I didn't know that I was going to be competing with a TACS box because I didn't know I was going to have a TACS box.
MAJ HONEC: Sure. You just got that TACS box about how long ago?
WO1 BROWN: Two days ago, and we borrowed it from the 638th [Ordnance Company], which is one of our ordinance companies, trying to solve some of their problems. The biggest thing I want to ...
[END OF SIDE ONE]
MAJ HONEC: Okay. You originally wished to LAN these?
WO1 BROWN: Okay, right. I've got all the hardware and all the software, and I just never had the time to hook them up so ... because we've been crunching numbers ever since we landed. But one development that I didn't even know existed was ... at TSA-4, we were ... it was brought to our attention that the TACS box had a feature that can write to a DOS disk. So going through to battalion SAAS-4 to DOS, we were able to take the locator from the TACS box and put it on the disk.
MAJ HONEC: These are the cross index for units, and what?
WO1 BROWN: No. This is strictly DODAAC and DODAAC totals.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
WO1 BROWN: Document by document.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
WO1 BROWN: And that generated over 2,000 lines ... 2,000 dotted lines because of the way they input it. For every input transaction a new line was created in the locator file.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
WO1 BROWN: Once I received this disk, I started playing around with some LOTUS and some macros and I got to a point where you just put this disk into our 33-megahertz machine and type SAAS-4, 'cause that's the batch file that I created. And it will par see [?] the data, query the data, sort the data, give me my billable totals, and dump them into my working spreadsheet, and out comes my report. Okay, on laptops that process takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. On the main system here it takes fifteen minutes.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
WO1 BROWN: This process on the TACS box can take twelve hours, going through the mandatory process.
MAJ HONEC: The same process?
WO1 BROWN: The same process.
MAJ HONEC: Getting the same informational reports?
WO1 BROWN: Well, no. Being ...
MAJ HONEC: Okay, what's the difference?
WO1 BROWN: ... that the TACS box, even though it's crunching anywhere from one to twelve hours, it will not give the reports or the information that these higher headquarters are requiring. They do not--the TACS box will not DODAAC total. It does--everybody I've asked didn't know how to do it, and I've asked some pretty ...
MAJ HONEC: Knowledgeable ...
WO1 BROWN: ... experienced people. And there's another thing, while I'm thinking about that, I can ask this same question to three different people and get three different answers. I wrote these answers down, brought them back to the TACS box, tried them, and they didn't work. So what I'm saying is they don't know all the ins and outs of a TACS box either. A TACS has been a very poorly fielded piece of equipment. Training, I haven't seen it. Even our own 55Rs don't know--in my opinion--do not know the TACS box like they should, if that's what their job was, which it is. Stock accountable records, which is what ... the job of TACS box.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Anything else that you wish to bring up?
WO1 BROWN: Yes. I think either the TACS box should be done away with or upgraded with some IBM17-compatible components, not only because of reliability, because I have commercial equipment with no extra special measures taken to protect against the elements.
MAJ HONEC: The dust.
WO1 BROWN: And as you can see, there's dust all over them.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
WO1 BROWN: Of course, we clean them daily, where we are, inside of a converted refrigerator van, but we can't keep the door closed.
MAJ HONEC: And you have, I see, a fashion of sorts, a dust protector over the keyboard.
WO1 BROWN: Oh, yes, yes. We had them custom made before we left Fort Bliss. Some of the suppliers were just amazing. As soon as you mentioned DESERT SHIELD they went out of their way and produced whatever we requested. We also have custom made desk covers. I mean ... this is only half of the equipment I purchased. The other half is at the battalion headquarters.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
WO1 BROWN: And all within one day of ordering they went out of their way and made it. We received it overnight. Okay. The firm is Eskins and they're out of Florida. I've got all my documents if you want to look at them. [LAUGHTER]
MAJ HONEC: Could you spell that? E-s-k-i-n-s, is it, Incorporated?
WO1 BROWN: Yeah, that's close enough.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. All right.
WO1 BROWN: I'm sure I ... . Boy, I'm so tired. But I'm sure [Fort] Eustis, Virginia, has all the records, but I have to go through them anyway.
MAJ HONEC: Fort Eustis, Virginia being ...
WO1 BROWN: Right, yeah, supply system.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Okay. All right. Anything else that you can think of?
WO1 BROWN: Get some sleep. [LAUGHTER]
MAJ HONEC: Very good, very good.
WO1 BROWN: War is hell. We need to crank these numbers.
MAJ HONEC: This concludes this Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM interview. Thank you very much.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
1. Ammunition supply point.
2. King Khalid Military City.
3. Theater stockage area.
4. Officer basic course.
5. Supply Class V is ammunition.
6. A commercial computer software spreadsheet program designed to work on a MS-DOS-based computer. MS-DOS, more commonly called just DOS, is the Microsoft Corporation's disk operating system.
7. 2d Support Center (Materiel Management).
8. Department of Defense Ammunition Accounting Code.
9. 3d Armored Cavalry regiment.
10. Field Manual 101-10-1 and FM 101-10-2 are staff officers' data handbooks giving equipment configurations by various tables of organization and equipment (TOEs).
11. 1st Support Group (Corps).
12. Enhanced graphic adapter.
13. Very fine graphic adapters.
14. Automated data processing.
15. The original Army procurement contract for personal computers was with the Compaq corporation for machines using the 8088-series central processing chip. The newer contract at the time of this interview was with the Zenith corporation for machines using the 80386-SX chip.
16. Random access memory.
17. International Business Machines corporation, generally considered to be the industry standard for computers.