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I guess the foot's on the other hand now, Kramer!

The Space Episode of News Radio was on tonight.

Some things are great no matter where you are. :-)

A bunch of you have been asking how I've been adjusting down here. I do appreciate that; thanks for asking.

So here's a little more background on what I do for the Army.

In a previous entry, I mentioned the frightening litany of acronyms of organizations that my organization falls under. Lemme make it a little more clear:

  • At the top level is the Department of Defense (DoD)

  • Next comes the Army (no cool acronym)

  • Next comes the Army Materiel Command (AMC)

  • Next comes the Software Engineering Center (SEC)

  • Next comes the Battlespace Systems Support Directorate (BSSD)

  • Then comes my organization: Intelligence Fusion Systems (IFS)

  • In my organization, there are three operations -- I'm in the Tactical Automation Support branch (TAS)

See, that's simple, isn't it? DoD Army AMC SEC BSSD IFS TAS.


Where I was before -- the Army Research Lab (ARL) -- is also under AMC. I don't know offhand what center they are under, but it isn't SEC.


IFS is basically the organization that does the software support and development for Military Intelligence software in the Army. IFS is the only component of BSSD that resides at Ft. Huachuca. AMC SEC ISEC is also here at Ft. Huachuca (they're actually upstairs in the same building as us, plus they have a second building for testing and whatnot) -- Information System Engineering Command (ISEC) is a sister organization to SEC.

I'm in the TAS branch of the IFS, which is essentially the operations side of the house -- we're responsible for all the units out and around in this big world who are currently using our software. We dispatch Field Software Engineers (FSEs) with units who are currently deployed in situations or exercises; we monitor bug reports... sorry, "Software Problem Reports" (SPRs); we coordinate with the development side of the house to ensure that SPRs are incorporated into the next version of software, train the units who receive our hardware/software, monitor and run all the financial aspects of the process (bug fixes, FSEs, releasing, training -- all these things cost money, and where that money comes from is frequently a very complicated question).

We're essentially the sustainment division of a software shop --
we just happen to sustain intelligence software to military units.

Another branch in IFS -- the Software Engineering Team (SET) -- is responsible for the development of the next versions of our software packages. They basically maintain the current generation of the packages (say, version X.Y, and X.(Y+1), etc.).

A whole different group is responsible for the planning and development of the next generation of the software packages ((X+1).0, and (X+1).1, etc.). Not only are they a whole different group, they use a whole different contractor (Lockheed Martin, in this case). This creates interesting political situations, to say the least. :-)

Once they reach a "stable-enough" version, they deploy it out to all the field units and give the software over to us -- we do the sustainment.

Make sense? It does make sense. Really.

Now get this -- CECOM has about 2500 people (IIRC). There's only about 200 military personnel in that number; the rest are civilians. Weird, eh?

This is one reason that what I'm now doing is totally different than what I've done in the Army so far. I had no idea that there was such a huge machine in the Army for the support and development of the common soldier. That is, I knew there were plenty of external organizations that provided support for the Army -- I didn't know that the Army itself had an enormous mechanism for these kinds of things.

The majority of experience that I have previously had in the Army
-- the Apache battalion at Ft. Knox -- was under FORSCOM (Forces Command, as opposed to AMC). That's what one typically thinks of when one thinks of the military -- the stereotypes with sergeants, commanders, privates, etc. That's what I'm used to, so that's why this is so different for me.

Monday was MAJ Ferguson's promotion ceremony -- he's a Major now (he was a Captain). The ceremony was in our (IFS)'s conference room, and a whole bunch of people attended -- most of the IFS staff, a bunch of the contractors and management from our main contractor here in Sierra Vista (a company named Ilex), MAJ Ferguson's immediate family, his parents, and his in-laws. His father-in-law is a Colonel (O-6) in the Army Tricare system (the medical "insurance" program for the Army, for lack of a longer explanation). It was a good ceremony, and CPT Ferguson became MAJ Ferguson.

Cool stuff.

Today and yesterday the director of CECOM SEC -- a civilian with the rank equivalent of a one star general -- was here visiting.

Think of it this way -- he's the director of our parent's parent organization. Yep -- he's the Big Cheese. We had lots of briefings for him and he met with lots of people here (both within IFS and with other tenants of Ft. Hucachua).

I got a coin for CECOM SEC -- very cool stuff. Army coins are decorative coins bigger and thicker than half-dollars. They're quite elaborate and typically have logos and mottos of the organization. The CECOM SEC coin is actually the nicest Army coin I've ever seen.

One typically receives coins as awards. Mr. Thomas handed out several coins to IFS personnel for various 9/11 activities. My coin was for being activated and some of the things that I've done since I've been here. Not quite as noble as 9/11 activities, but good enough, I suppose!

I got another coin from MAJ Ferguson's father in law -- a Tricare coin. This wasn't for anything in particular; I just shared a few of my old Apache battalion patches with him. So that was pretty cool --
two coins in one day!

I've made a few taps for my car with the boom-box that I brought with me from Kentucky. Unfortunately, it has the annoying "feature" of inserting a 2 second gap between songs. This is particularly annoying with tracks that run together with no audio spacing.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 6, 2001 7:30 AM.

The previous post in this blog was It's a building with generals and soldiers. But that's not important right now..

The next post in this blog is I'm doing all that I can. And stop calling me Shirley..

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