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The Art of the Possible – Operating a Digitized Field Armory

Third in a Series

1. Introduction

Asset Information Management Solution (AIMS) provides a custody and inventory capability focused on the accountability of assets maintained and issued from secure, restricted, or limited access facilities. This includes compliance with the full array of distinctively regulated and directed standards for access, custody, and security.

Automated Armory (AIMS-AA) is an AIMS module for Marines working in an Armory and Marines that are accountable for Armory assets. AIMS-AA provides a highly modernized digitization tool specific to the accountability, security and audit requirements of Armory operations, processes, and standards.

AIMS’ value is rested in its ability to provide confidence and compliance. AIMS-AA enables Users to spend less time on administrative actions and processing paperwork and more time spent leading others and preparing for operational needs. It does this without making trade-offs between efficiency, accountability, and security.

The functionality of AIMS-AA purposefully adheres to Marine Corps orders, directives and manuals that control Armory procedures. Many of these controls are rooted in paper-based procedures. As such, efficiency, accountability, and security are actually constrained from the improvements, results, and adherence that can be provided by a modernized digitization tool focused specifically on Armory operations.

2. Purpose

This series of papers discusses specific functional solutions that could greatly improve efficiency, accountability, and security for Armory operations but have not been implemented. Some of the untapped potential requires policies and interoperability to be further modernized. Other possibilities only require a new way of looking at things.

The purpose of this series is to highlight potential improvements, recognize actions required to implement the improvements (specifically actions beyond Troika’s control), and generate advocacy for the solutions and the required actions. This particular paper focuses on the capability for AIMS-AA to operate a digitized field armory, in a deployed, disconnected environment to support field training exercises.

3. Defining the Issue

a. When Marines take their weapons to the field for training, the Marine usually maintains possession of the weapon throughout the training exercise. But sometimes there is a need for the weapons to be placed in a secure field armory. This often occurs with crew-served weapons, or because the Marine’s duties make it cumbersome to maintain the weapon, such as when operating equipment, or performing maintenance.

b. When a field armory is established for training exercises, the assets remain accountable to the Parent unit. When the Marine checks out their weapon to go to the field, the NAVMC 10520, Weapons Custody Receipt, and NAVMC 11186, Crew Served Weapon Card, remain in the unit’s garrison armory.

c. The field armory needs a means to maintain accountability as weapons get checked in and out of the Field armory, as well as perform daily sight counts. This is normally done on paper (e.g., Excel), with no digital trail to the garrison armory’s account.

d. This may also mean that field receipts need to be produced that are distinct from the original NAVMC 10520/NAVMC 11186 prior to any weapons being checked into the field armory.

e. When the Marine checks in their weapon to the field armory, they may need some type of field receipt because they no longer have the weapon or the original NAVMC 10520/NAVMC 11186.

f. When the Marine checks out their weapon from the field armory, the field armory takes possession of the field receipt from the Marine.

g. When the field exercise is complete, Marines must do a final check-out from the field armory, check in their weapons to the garrison armory, and take possession of the original NAVMC 10520/NAVMC 11186.

h. The field armory then destroys all the field receipts that it has subsequently taken possession of as part of the final field check out. (Ideally a final sight count is conducted and recorded where all assets are accounted for by the field receipt. This final accounting is paper based, and likely not retained if there are no unresolved issues.)

i. All field armory transactions and procedures are accomplished and recorded manually on paper.

4. Description of the Opportunity What AIMS-AA Does

AIMS-AA has the capability to operate disconnected from the unit’s garrison armory and continue to provide full functionality and accountability supporting a field armory.

AIMS-AA has the capability to segregate all the assets that will be maintained in the field armory as a single grouping.

What AIMS-AA Improves

AIMS-AA provides greatly improved accountability over paper base procedures conducted in the field. Paper based procedures in the field are not only subject to ad hoc record keeping, but also subject to the weather and environment and possibly an armory on the move. With AIMS-AA, all records are in one place, with full traceability.

AIMS-AA provides full and more effective auditability of action conducted in a field environment. Additionally, all actions are easily synched back to the master computer in the unit’s garrison armory upon conclusion of the training exercise.

AIMS-AA provides greatly improved efficiency. In a training exercise where time is constrained and specifically focused on mission accomplishment, check-ins, check-outs are accomplished easily and quickly. With the possible exception of the use of NAVMC 10520s and NAVMC 11186s, there is no paperwork involved while operating in the field (this exception is addressed later in this paper). Because all functions are accomplished digitally and can be synched back to the master computer in the unit’s garrison armory, there are no “swivel chair” actions to transfer paper records to the garrison armory, and thus no gaps in the audit trail.

AIMS-AA provides effective accountability when a Field armory is established without any changes to the original account. A field armory account can be set up with no impact/changes to the CMR.

An AIMS-AA field armory has the flexibility to include and account for assets that may accompany attachment units, even if their parent unit does not use AIMS-AA.

5. Required Actions

If the garrison armory is to continue to operate during the field exercise, at least two AIMS-AA suites are required (one for the garrison Armory and one for the field armory). The following required actions address the scenario where the garrison armory continues to operate.

The functionality for a field armory can be implemented one of two ways: it could leverage and expand on the Training X function under AIMS-AA’s Armory Function; or it can use asset transfer functions under Asset Functions. Full implementation may need some changes based on the following steps.

a. Pre-Exercise 1) Establish a field armory as a subordinate organization (or differentiate it as a unique stow location). If just a separate stow location it needs to be able to have further subordinate locations, (e.g., container, rack).

2) Bulk designate assets for temporary transfer (Transfer Holding, but does not move the asset to Transfer Holding until check out). Should be able to assign to field armory stow locations if known.

3) Prepare a field armory sight count.

4) Develop/print temporary field armory NAVMC 10520s and NAVMC 11186s. (Or eliminate paper receipts and use a digital scanner as discussed in the summary below.

b. Garrison Armory Check Out 1) When the asset is checked out of the garrison armory, based on the prep action, this new action triggers a change to the unit’s garrison armory sight count and builds the field armory sight count. As an alternative to the prep action, the screen could have a box to check at check-out that designates the asset as transferring to the field armory (Check out establishes Transfer Holding). (The NAVMC 10520s and NAVMC 11186s remain in the unit’s garrison armory.)

c. Field Armory Check In/Out 1) The field armory AIMS-AA suite needs to be able “flip a switch” so that when assets are checked into the field armory AIMS-AA knows to stow and account for them in the field armory stow location, and does not think the assets are being checked into the unit’s garrison armory (Transfer Accept).

2) The Marine receives their field armory NAVMC 10520 (if it is used).

3) Check outs from the field armory are done similar to garrison until field armory Close Out described below.

4) Attachments’ assets from organizations that are not AIMS-AA users may need to have to have a field armory NAVMC 10520. They might also need a field armory NAVMC 10576 for any serialized or non-serialized asset that are to be stowed in the field armory. In this instance, the individual would retain a copy of the NAVMC 10576 as a receipt for what is checked in.

d. Field Armory Close Out

1) When assets are checked out of the field armory for the last time to be returned to the unit’s garrison armory, a box may need to be checked that has the effect of decrementing the sight count.

2) If asset transfer function is used, at this point the action would be Transfer Return.

d. Garrison Armory Check In

Once all assets have been checked back into the unit’s garrison armory and all NAVMC 10520 and NAVMC 111986s have been returned to individual Marines, a reconciliation report should be provided that confirms that every asset originally assigned to the Training X roster has in fact been returned. It’s at this point that a synchronization would occur to move the transactions and audit trail captured in the field armory AIMS-AA suite to the garrison AIMS-AA suite.

6. Summary

The actions cited above to attain the capability for AIMS-AA to operate as a field armory, operating in a disconnected environment, requires no policy changes or changes to enterprise systems.

It is possible that a field armory capability could be provided with little or no changes to current functionality and would be accomplished with a set of ad hoc procedures. However, a distinct field armory functionality would ensure more consistent use of AIMS-AA in the field. The accompanying recommendation is that Troika develop a Field Operations user guide template to ensure that the user does not negatively impact current accounting, and to provide us a clear picture for providing support to a field armory.

The required actions listed above draw on a mix of functionality from current Training X functions and Transfer functions. Ideally all the functionality for a field armory should be in one place within AIMS-AA.

The implementation of a field armory might also offer the opportunity to test the concept of operating without NAVMC 10520s. Weapons checked in and checked out of a field armory could be done entirely by scanning the Marine’s Common Access Card (CAC). Current directives only require that commanders …” establish a tracking system (e.g., logbook, spreadsheet, temporary 10520) to ensure accountability of weapons.” (MCO 5530.14A, 8004.3f.)

At least one organization has already used AIMS-AA on a field exercise (and has a desire to build on the experience). This would provide an available test case.

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