So, there was one part of this video I wanted to clarify, but I did not want to expound too much during the video simply because it would have made it too long (and even more boring than it already is).
During the video, I stated that if the ARC (Accounting Requirements Code) in the TM or the TMHR does not match the FEDLOG ARC, that FEDLOG takes precedence. But is this really the case, and if so, why? This obviously makes hand receipt transfers harder because if you are missing an item that the TMHR states is non-expendable but FEDLOG states it is expendable, it can mean the difference between a simple order and FLIPL.
Now, before I dive into the regulation answer, I want to take you through the different answers I got. Of course, the first person I asked was my Supply NCO. She was utterly confused by the question (as are most people, so no fault to her). Next, I asked the Battalion S-4. I did not really expect him to know and, shockingly, he did not. Next was the PBO. In my unit, we have a PBO at the Battalion level. No luck there either.
But I am at a Component Command Headquarters. I have sever warrant officers and senior officers that work in the G4 within mere feet of my desk. So I went to the G4 Supply and Services cell, where I spoke with the CW4 in charge of all Class VII items in our command. Again, a blank stare and confusion. He tried to explain it, but it seemed like he did not want to be holed into a definite response.
This is aggravating. Why can no one give me a straight answer?
Well, because there really is not a book answer to the question as I asked it. Let me explain.
DA PAM 708-2 (specifically, page 61) outlines that the Army Master Data File (AMDF) is the repository of all codes and information records for Army material. If the AMDF says something is Expendable, then by gosh it is expendable. When the information is entered into the AMDF, they judge the item by the criteria laid out in Chapter 7 of AR 735-5. FEDLOG pulls it’s information from the AMDF, so we are done, right?
This is where we find our issue. In AR 735-5, each type of property (ARC N, D, X) states the criteria that makes an item that ARC code. It also states that you can find an Item’s ARC code in FEDLOG. However, it also states that even if the item is in FEDLOG as a certain ARC, that there are other criteria that could make it’s ARC change. For example, if an items has a Federal Supply Code of 5110 and has a unit of issue that contains more than one item (such as a package, box, dozen ect…), AND the cost of each single item is less than $50, then the entire set is expendable, not durable, no matter what FEDLOG states.
Fuck these rules can be complex.
Our second issue comes in when an item is non-expendable according to the TM or TMHR, but FEDLOG states it is not. Why does the TM do this to us? Certainly they don’t want us to start a FLIPL if we lose a chock block, right?
Well, the concept behind something like this is that the manufacturer is stating to you, the user, that you cannot and must not operate the vehicle without this item. Does that mean that you should start that FLIPL for your missing chocks? No. Hell no. You will be laughed out of the room.
Our third issue comes when the PBO decides on their own to make certain items non-expendable. Yea, they can totally do that. On a whim. For example, AR 735-5 clearly states that any Cellphone under $500 should be considered durable property. But, because cell phones are pilferable items and acquiring them is usually a pretty complicated project, the PBO can mandate they go on the books and be treated as non-expendable property.
So the short answer? Go with what is on FEDLOG, no matter the discrepancy. If you have a question, ask your Supply or PBO. But you may not like what you get.
“Where is that D*mn TM?”
I have said the previous statement (or derivatives of it) more times than I can count in my military career. During PMCS, during inventories, during inspections, it does not matter. The TM is never there when you want it, or need it.
Thanks to the ubiquity of technology, LOGSA has certainly helped to stem this problem. Electronic TM’s in CD and Web format are very useful, and provided that your computer has the right CAC certificates (always a fun time trying to get everything to use it on your home PC). Maintenance shops are even issued Maintenance Support Devices, which are basically rugged laptops (using that term very loosely) that you can load TM’s on to so you can take it with you to the vehicle.
But when you need that paper copy, it just is not there.
I remember before each of my Change of Command inventories, I sat down behind a computer with a copy of the Property Book and pulled up the TM for every item. I downloaded it, printed up the cover and the BII sections and put them in a stack, ready to go just in case the outgoing commander did not have them ready. Which, most of the time, they did not.
But TM’s are needed for more than just inspections, inventories and PMCS. It is critical that you have them on hand so that you can take emergency remedial action or to complete tasks that make you use the equipment in ways that you are not accustomed to.
The easiest way to ensure this is not to lose it in the first place. As this is not always in your control, it is vital that you make good friends with (or become) the Publications Manager.
Each unit has one of these (usually a secondary duty with a pubs clerk at the Company and a pubs manager at the Battalion). I have not seen many successful publications programs in my time, but when they are successful, they are very easy to get a hold of. That is why I say it may not be a bad idea to become it (if not on orders, maybe just effectively). It will help you, and your Soldiers, remember a key fact about these manuals that often gets overlooked: Pubs cost Money. Lots of money.
So treat your TM’s with respect. And if at all possible, do not operate your equipment without one.
Welp, I owe you all an apology of sorts.
I have not posted a new video or comic in some weeks. Though I have plenty of excuses to levy, none of them are worth the lack of content provided. I will have a new video out before the New Year, I promise.
The problem I keep running into is that I hate leaving specifics out. Now that I am in the supply and components section, I feel like that if I leave anything out, I am dooming you potential hand receipt holders to some level of failure and, even worse, financial liability. I don’t know why I shoulder the responsibility of your pocketbook, but for some reason, I do.
But that brings up a very interesting, albeit unintentional, topic. As officers, How far do we take the development of our peers and subordinates?
Many of you will agree with me that the Officer professional training courses are lacking. Whether this is intentional or not, I don’t know. But, in my opinion, this is reflective of the expectations of what officers are supposed to be/do. Officers self-develop. Officers learn on their own and find the knowledge that they need to accomplish their mission.
I don’t agree with this sentimentality, on a personal level. To a certain extent, everyone needs to self-develop. No one can count on others to provide the knowledge they need to survive in this world and become successful. However, when you have an institution as large as the US Army, you would think that it serves its own interests by preparing its people to assume the accountability and responsibility that they decide to assign to them.
No, in real life, political expediency (not just politics in a Democrat-Republican, CNN-Fox News kind way) nearly always takes front seat. This is both an institutional problem (within each corps or branch) and an overall military problem.
Here are a few examples:
EO and SHARP training is mandated to an exacting degree. Several hours per quarter must be spent training these subjects to every member of the United States Army. Yet, there is no hard-fast requirement for training Property Accountability, PMCS, or Training Management.
In Quartermaster and Logistics PME for officers, two weeks at a minimum are spent on petroleum management and the theory of petroleum operations. Two days are spent on property accountability. No days are spent on training management. In fact, more time is spent reviewing laundry and shower procedures than training management and property accountability.
OPD/LPD sessions at battalion and above level are often focused (at least in my experience) on historical battle rides and exceedingly specific subjects that are branch specific rather than administrative or problem focused topics.
How does this change? I don’t know for sure, but I have some suggestions.
1. Work hard and prepare training
It is so easy to pull some random PowerPoint training session pulled off of google or to steal it off of the share portal. Spend 10-20 minutes (at best) reviewing the material, then off you go! You are the subject matter expert.
This is not how training works. This is not how experts and professionals teach others. But I find it hard to blame others fully for this, as those few that could competently put together a training session are usually overburdened with other work.
But, should you find yourself with the need to teach a class, do yourself and those who you are teaching a favor. Build the lesson yourself. Do the research yourself. You will find yourself not depending on the slides and teaching relevant information, rather than reading slides and going over only the seemingly applicable highlights.
2. Leave your ego out of it
Everyone loves to do it. Finding a way to highlight how good you are, or conversely (if you are a douchebag), how bad everyone else is. Hoarding information or making others feel stupid for not having knowledge or the wisdom to know what they don’t know.
Acting this way will only lead to others despising you and your lesson. On top of that, you will end up setting up a mental attitude that leads to ignorance of others abilities and needs.
In short, don’t be a toxic asshole.
3. Define what is important, and what is not
You are a big boy. You are in charge. There are going to be few others that can really figure out what training is important to your unit’s operations than you. There are a few ways to accomplish this.
You can use a METL assessment; defining your key tasks and training on those. Or you can identify key weaknesses by observing the day to day operations. However you do it, figure out what is important. Just because it is a weakness does not mean you need to spend time on it. I am very weak at PMCS’ing LMTV trailers. I have very little to no need to use them. So why waste my time?
Sure there are those items that you must train by regulation regardless of your strength or weakness. But only you can develop your priorities. (Note: This whole part more applies to unit training rather than leader training, but the concept still applies).
So, here is the crowd interaction part. What do you think about professional development training?
This video is not exactly groundbreaking stuff. If you are aware that components exit, then you are aware, generally, of the fact that these items are components. The difference between COEI and BII in the terms of how you account for them is very little. In fact, this video is just one of those videos I felt that I needed to do in order to put together the groundwork for future videos.
But I would like to highlight two things from this video that are not common sense. First, the point about AAL items and when you do (or do not) account for them. Every time I have ever done a layout, it is just the common thought process that you do not account for AAL. It is not really all that common that AAL items are present, but it is almost never considered.
But how would you even know? This is where the outgoing hand receipt holder and the supply NCO must have their records in order. It is so easy for the an AAL item to be lost in the system if people who work that system fail to either do the right thing or to be competent enough to know what to do. Once the part is on hand, it must be continually tracked. Lose a record or fail to transfer the information that the item is on hand, and the item becomes lost in the record, and therefore you lose accountability of it. The item itself may still be on hand, but without the tracking system, it will inevitably be separated and then lost.
The second point I wanted to highlight is the fact that tool kits that are accounted for by SKO sometimes have COEI and BII.
Take, for example, the SATS trailer tool room. The SKO does not list any of the BII or COEI items for the set. Items such as the trailer ramps, the generator, the air conditioner, the trailer itself and many other items are only listed in the TM, not by the SKO.
It is not likely that many of these items will walk away. But without knowing this, you will miss the BII that comes with the generator, or possibly the short ramp that also comes with the trailer. Those items can end up costing quite a bit of money.
So, when doing an inventory, make sure you check for all four types of items. It should only take a few minutes of prep time prior to doing the inventory, and it can save you quite a bit of money if someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes, either by incompetence or purposefully.
Rarely will you run into the person trying to deceive you on purpose. But they are out there. And your best defense is humility and preparation.
So… yea. I did not realize it had been a whole month since the last video. Sorry. PCS/TDY excuses.
That being said, the DA 2062 is one of those forms that you are forced to start using virtually your first day in the Army with no training on what it is or what it means. I suppose it should not take much training to figure out the DA 2062 on a very basic level; however once you are in charge of a Sub-Hand Receipt or a Primary Hand Receipt, knowing how it works and how to deal with annexes becomes much more important, especially from a conceptual level. The PBUSE hand receipts are basically electronic 2062's with much more information on them. But if you don't know how the basics work, how can you be expected to know how the major league hand receipts work?
Every single time I have ever done a command inventory, people are surprised when I ask for the Shortage Annex. Most do not even know what it is or what it means. This becomes so critical because, to put it bluntly, this is where people lose money. But that is just an example of how we just don't know the basics.
This is one of those small ways that, as leaders, our assumption leads to our and our subordinates ruin. It is understandable if we, as leaders, assume that our subordinates will teach themselves or find a way to learn. But it is inexcusable if leaders do not inspect and check. Without this, small errors or ignorance are never brought to light, which creates false expectations or incorrect standards.
How can you inspect or check if you do not know what to do and how to do it?
I will go into components next week. I may spend a video just talking about components, then do the component hand receipt as its own video the week after that.
Or, the month after that. Who knows?
Man, it has been awhile.
Let me first apologize to those who follow the blog more closely than others. Take one part new job plus one part TDY plus one part Jameson, and I get a little lazy about the Blog/Vlog. But there will be a new video this week, and hopefully a new comic next week.
That being said, I promised a review of the reserve retirement system. And the research I have done does not meet my standard. Not that I did not try. Don’t get me wrong. I was diving into Army Regs, National Guard Regs, Navy Regs, US Federal Codes and even, god help me, recruiting message boards.
But the research does not meet my standards. So until I can find the right answers and regulations, I am not going to put forward a sub-par product. That being said, you can go to this website to check out some information to help you out. But I will get back to this topic.
But until then, let’s talk about Racism! Wait, what?
One of the bigger issues our Army faces today, according to our leaders, is SHARP issues. I don’t know if that is the case. I am not saying that it is not an issue, but it is not the worst issue. And when I say that racism is an issue, I am not saying that there is like an undercover KKK in the Army secretly holding back “The Blacks and the Jews” or something. That is not the case.
It is a problem. And I think the real problem is honesty. Not that racist are honest about their racism. I mean, if racist would come out and be like “Hey, I am a racist, I hate the Asians”, this would be an easy problem to fix. But the problem is that people harbor racist thoughts and are not given a way to field their prejudices so that they can be defeated in a non-threatening way. I am talking about the small prejudices that don’t build up to the type of thing that overtly effect organizations, but effect units in small ways that are unnoticeable to most people, perhaps not even noticeable to the person who harbors the thoughts.
About two years ago, my company equal opportunity rep was doing a small group EO session in the company break room/battalion XO’s beat up on the maintenance control officer room. I was walking through the motorpool looking for a reason to hate on my platoon leaders, so I decided to hop by the small group session. I walked in and I was shocked by what they were saying.
I am not going to repeat what exactly was being said, but my first instinct as the Commander was to stop it right in its tracks. I saw visions of EO complaints in my future, along with the requisite paperwork. But my EO rep looked at me, and gave me the look that said, “Sir, don’t fuck this up, I have them exactly where I want them.”
So I said nothing, and just listened in. Everyone was bearing their prejudices in a non-attributional environment. People were getting offended, but the EO rep was controlling it. It was great because, as they said what they felt out loud, you could see them changing their minds without anyone saying anything. It was like they realized how stupid their thoughts were as they were saying them. Just saying what they felt to someone else without the threat of being demeaned healed the prejudice.
I don’t know if this is an institutionalized practice. I hope it is. If it is not, it says a lot about the quality of my EO rep at the time that he made the company a better place.
Some of you may be thinking, “Well that is what you get when you take away political correctness, Captain!”
I disagree. This is what you get when people are honest.
Till next time
So now you know what the High 36 retirement system is, as well as the CSB/REDUX system. Knowing this, you can see the surface differences between the two. But what are the long term consequences of taking one or the other?
To examine that, we need to go to the math! I am pumped up! Oh, and if you want to do the math for yourself, here is my calculator. The instructions are on each page. Follow along if you would like and check my work if you think I am wrong. Or, input your information and see what it is for you!
Here is my scenario. It is 1 July, 2014. You are an Army Officer at your 14 and a ½ year mark, and you are attending your mandatory CSB/REDUX briefing. You are currently a non-prior service Major, and you will be retiring as a LTC (assuming on time promotions). Oh and by the way, you will be retiring on your 42nd birthday, which is January 1st (because I said so). For simplicity sake, we will assume a yearly average pay increase of 1.75% and a constant Consumer Price Index yearly increase of 2.5%.
So here is what your retired pay looks like:
It is obvious by just looking at the differences between the equations that the High 36 will make more starting year one. But one thing that is not factored into this is the $30k that you received at year 15 from taking the CSB/REDUX. However, after just three years being retired, the High 36 system has already caught up and eclipsed the CSB/REDUX, and that is assuming you received the $30k bonus in a combat tax exclusionary area! The Further from your retirement date you get, the worse it is for you. By the time you get to the point when your multiplier and Consumer Price Index (CPI) multipliers are recalculated, you are over $380k behind!
“But Captain,” you are surely saying in your head, “What if I just serve an additional three years to get my multiplier up to 50%?”
Well, first I would tell you that it would actually be 50.5%. You need to go back to math class, LT.
Second, let’s take a look what happens when we adjust the Years of Active Federal Service Beyond 20 and age at retirement (with pay adjusted as such):
As you can see, the High 36 breaks even by the fourth year, and by age 62, you are still behind over $260k. That gap is significant. So, now that we can plainly see this, in what situations is it advantageous to take the CSB/REDUX over the High 36?
The first thing that I have heard people say is that by wisely investing the bonus at your 15th year, you can end up with much more money in the end. So let us explore this. Lets say you put the $30k in a moderately risky mutual fund the day you get it, and let’s further assume that your mutual fund never loses money and gives a consistent rate of return (for arguments sake, I am using USAA’s Cornerstone moderate risk mutual fund USBSX, which has yielded a yearly return of about 6.5 over twenty years). Given the first retirement scenario outlined above, This is what is may look like:
As you can see, throughout the life of the fund, it does not perform at the same level as retiring under the High 36 system. You may want to note here that, any time you invest (even in a low to moderate risk investment), there is a chance of partial or even complete loss, where the retirement money is guaranteed. There is a chance that by investing the bonus, you can beat High 36, but the risk involved may be too much for you. Not to mention that, at some point, you may want to divest or use the interest as it accumulates instead of letting it compound, whereas the retirement money is liquid, so you do not have to worry about divesting.
Another use for the bonus people try is to pay off debt or pay down a mortgage. I will assume that, should you use the bonus in this way, that you would simply be paying things off quicker, and that your spending habits do not incur new debt over time. Meaning, if you use it to pay of credit card debt, you do not turn around and use the credit card again. So, given the first retirement scenario outlined above, a $150k balance remaining on the mortgage principle, a $1000 a month payment and an interest rate of 4.13%, this is what it looks like
As you can see, by the time the mortgage is paid off, you have saved over $63k in interest! That is not too shabby… well until you compare it to what you would be getting in monthly retirement payments. By doing this, you are losing out on $315k over the same time-frame! That is a nicer house than the one you just finished paying off early!
It gets worse when you use it to pay off credit card debt. Again, assume the first retirement scenario, $30k in credit card debt, minimum monthly payments of 4% of the balance, interest rate of 13.2% and not paying anything more than the minimum payment each month.
Ouch. Only a difference of about $9k. You would be losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Ok, sir. I get it. Don’t take the CSB/REDUX. God! Stop beating me up about it!”
Wait, LT, there are some times when you may want to take it. Don’t be too hasty or judgmental!
For example, if you think that you will be in the Army for 30 years or more (a doubtful proposition, given your math skills and tendency to be judgmental), it may be worth it to invest the money if you can get a good return on it. You may actually come out ahead, given just the right market and right investments.
Or, if there is a true emergency in your life and you have no other choices (no support agencies, no family or friends to fall back on and no credit cards), it may be the only way to get back to normal.
Or maybe you have a once in a lifetime investment opportunity, and this is the only way for you to get enough liquid assets to invest. All of these reasons are not likely at best, but they do happen. Really, in the end, it is in your best interest to use the High-36 system. It is the safest long term bet.
Next week, we are going to start taking a look at the Reserve and National Guard retirement systems. If you thought that the Active Duty systems were complex, stay tuned for some truly insane red tape. I can only hope that my Excel skills can keep up.