Saturday, January 9, 2016 –
SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands - Saipan-based Army Reserve Soldiers with the 9th Mission Support Command, Fort Shafter Flats, Hawaii, tested the recently installed Deployed Digital Training Campus (DDTC) during their weekend battle assembly at the U.S. Army Reserve Center, Saipan, Jan. 9 and 10, 2016.
This portable system gives Soldiers the needed support to overcome technology barriers that they face during weekend battle assembly trainings, as one of the unit leaders explained.
“Before we received the system, it was kind of difficult doing online training,” said Staff Sgt. Cristin Duenas, a CNMI customs officer and the platoon sergeant for the 302nd Quartermaster Company – Detachment 1. “We have 30 plus Soldiers and just didn’t have enough computers. Now we are able to get a lot of online training done quicker.”
Another Soldier in Duenas’ unit shared the same sentiment.
“Without the DDTC system, it was pretty challenging,” said Spc. Ashley Castro, a teacher aide at Garapan Elementary School and a part-time college student. “If we needed to take a class, we had to wait in line. Having this system and more laptops available makes it is easier. Instead of sharing four computers, we now have 20 laptops.”
Even if Soldiers had the time and the necessary hardware to do Web-based training from home, they are not able to. Saipan-based Soldiers have mentioned the inability to log on to military sites using commercial Internet.
“I have Internet access at home, but I am not able to access military websites,” said Castro, who juggles between work, school and parenting. “So the only place to do the training is here at the Reserve Center.”
In today’s Army, Web-based training is just as critical to Soldiers as passing a physical fitness test or weapons qualification. Certain Army schools, especially those for Soldier career advancement, require Web-based courses as prerequisites, such as Structured Self-Development.
The DDTC provides dedicated education capabilities to conduct career training, according to Richard Fairchild, a DDTC technical trainer. He added that the system also uses training management application software to maintain training and education records in accordance with the Army Learning Management System (ALMS).
In addition to providing Soldiers secured Internet access, the DDTC also enables Soldiers to conduct meetings via video teleconference (VTC).
The majority of the quartermaster Soldiers, including the senior leadership, are in Guam, Duenas said. So rather than just doing a teleconference, the detachment can have face-to-face video conferences with its Guam comrades, he added.
Since their battle assembly weekend, the DDTC system has proven to be invaluable to the quartermaster Soldiers.
“I am very grateful for having the system,” Castro said. “It makes doing online mandatory training a lot easier and convenient.”
As a platoon sergeant, Duenas knows all too well what having this system means to him and his platoon.
“As a leader, I want to see my Soldiers succeed,” Duenas said. “This system is a big relief for us. It is a tool that will help us get to our goals within the Army. I hope this [center] can be a permanent place for the system.”