Army Times
Published: 12/25/2000

Reservists’, Guard’s civilian skills prove valuable assets in Army life-

He brought engineers, teachers, police officers and computer experts, among others. They were, like Halverson, traditional, part-time soldiers in the Texas Army National Guard’s 49th Armored Division brought on active duty for the Bosnian mission.

Both the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve like to boast that a wide range of civilian skills and life experience gives their soldiers a particular advantage in assignments and missions.

“It’s simply a byproduct of the system,” Halverson said in a June interview in Bosnia.

Perhaps the most tangible “byproduct” of the 49th’s seven-month stint in Bosnia is “Scribevision” — a Web-based system named for the operations scribe who keeps the command center’s log updated with significant events in theater.

Scribevision, which has piqued the interest of several Army and Department of Defense organizations, provided the 49th with a single Web page where the staff could go for updates on the log, weather conditions and current threat-level status. With its video feeds, the Web page also was capable of showing everything from live news broadcasts to footage from unmanned aerial vehicles flying over the Bosnian countryside. The command center staff also could view maps that tracked the movement of patrols or even watch briefing slides, all on a secure network.

Better yet, the system is user friendly, requiring little computer savvy to input or receive data.

“The whole thing about Scribevision is that it doesn’t take someone who knows HTML to update it,” said 1st Lt. Craig Yarbrough, who designed the Web site with Warrant Officer Rodney Hammack. HTML (Hypertext markup language) is the computer language used to build Web sites.

Both men used the computer skills they learned in their civilian jobs to create the system for the Army.

The simplicity of the system has attracted the interest of U.S. European Command, which implemented its own version of Scribevision in September.

The command uses the secure network for operations planning and “it really kind of speeds up the information process and information sharing,” said Army Maj. Peter Barclay, EUCOM joint information systems officer. “We’ve cut out a lot of e-mail tag and phone-mail tag.”

There had been other systems that performed the information-sharing function, Barclay said, but they were very technical and not always user friendly.

Barclay was a member of a EUCOM team that visited Eagle Base to see Scribevision in action.

“They had good ideas and very creatively and very brilliantly came up with a solution,” he said. “They designed it so that the people who weren’t Web geeks could use it.”

Like the Guard, the Army Reserve touts the civilian experiences of its soldiers.

“Our soldiers and their civilian-acquired skills are the foundation the Army Reserve is built upon,” wrote Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Plewes, chief of the Army Reserve, in a message to reservists posted on the Army Reserve Web site.

Two years ago, the Army Reserve created the Civilian Acquired Skills Database to identify some of those civilian skills.

More than 2,500 soldiers have already registered, according to Maj. James Gallagher, a personnel proponency integration officer.

Since July, more than 100 new soldiers have registered each month, Gallagher said.

The database was originally set up to identify soldiers with particular foreign language skills, “but you name it, from accountants to zoologists, from A to Z, we have it,” Gallagher said.

Units use the database to recruit members, but units or other government agencies are more likely to use the database to fill a spot during a critical contingency operation or to work on a special project.

“I think it’s a good way to narrow their search to people who are willing to volunteer for an assignment,” Gallagher said.

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