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These are some personal notes that describe some of my memories and opinions of the organizations that I served with in an Army career that spanned nearly 30 years. If you find this site by accident through a search engine you are welcome to contact me and share your thoughts. Thanks. My e-mail address is BradenClan@
gmail.com.

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Army Training Support Center (ATSC)


Fort Eustis, Virginia
1992-1996

ATSC is an operating element of Training and Doctrine Command that served to manages, plans, integrates, implements, and sustains specific Training Support System programs, products, services, and facilities that support training across all training domains, TRADOC's core missions, and the Army. (Yes, those are some fancy words, but the bottom line is that this small organization directly influences about $17B of the Army's annual budget.)

ATSC is a tenant unit of Fort Eustis, home of the Army's Transportation Corps. Tenant units don't always get the best support, and that was the case at times. Also, the base was continually short of funding and expected ATSC to do more than its share in this regard. Nonetheless, we liked our Transportation friends and they treated us well. My next door neighbor was the base's Chief of Staff, and we were friends.

I don't recall the exact numbers, but ATSC had about 500 civilian employees and about 36 military when I arrived - my first experience with a largely civilian workforce. Many of the Directorate Chiefs were Department of the Army Civilians, and they were highly professional. My Deputy, Dr. Steve Duncan, was an excellent counterpart and I appreciated his contributions to the organization, both personally and professionally. More on Steve below.

After commuting about 55 minutes one way from our home in Valrico to MacDill AFB, I found that our quarters were about a one minute drive from the ATSC Headquarters. We lived in a single-family house that had a number of extensions and improvements over the years, and was a maintenance headache for the base. But we liked it. It had a large back yard and an old garage. We played all kinds of games in the yard, and used the garage for storage.

For my tenure at ATSC perhaps the two people I was closest with were the Command Secretary Marie Buckner and the Deputy ATSC Commander, Dr. Steve Duncan. Marie was outstanding. She knew everyone and everything. She was not a secretary but an extension of the Command Group. She knew what was right and what was not right. One of her insights was worth ten staff meetings. Marie could take "steno" (Great!!!) and in an era where e-mail was just coming into being and the Internet was in its infancy, she helped me stay plugged into the command even when I was traveling - and I did a fair amount of that. Steve was smart, and a true Type B that the Command needed to balance my Type A personality. I recall taking many pieces of correspondence into Steve to ask his opinion and having him politely suggest that I really needed to write a more moderate letter as opposed to the perhaps too direct or too heated a note I felt the circumstances warranted. And he was always right. Steve also was a true friend personally as well, and he helped me in ways that I could never repay.

I arrived at ATSC about the time the Army was about to reap the "Peace Dividend" from ending of the Cold War. That translated to about 120 spaces being cut from the command - a huge number that (rightly so) had the workforce highly alarmed. But with the help of a number of people, to include ATSC's Resource Manager Bill Mitchell, we managed the downsizing over the next year without anyone losing his or her federal job.

ATSC's various Directorates didn't need me to make them run well; they were doing that before I got there and after I left. I did work to try to improve our part of the Army Correspondence Course Program. We managed the courses that were written by the various service schools and we distributed the paper-based courseware. (Remember, this was 1992-1996.) In accomplishing this mission, we served over 200,000 students and employed a warehouse for incoming and outgoing material that did so much business with the US Postal Service that it had its own Zip Code.

We also had a directorate that managed the Army's training devices. Next to the ATSC Headquarters there was a small building with some of these devices, like a Weaponeer for marksmanship training, and shoot-don't shoot trainer that used lazer bullets and various scenarios. That building was a favorite place to take visitors to tell the ATSC story, and the devices were fun. Robert had his friends over on weekends to play with them.

One of the great things we did at ATSC (that people much smarter than me came up with) was to change to a nine day work week. Since the bulk of the ATSC personnel were Department of the Army Civilians, they were all required to work 40 hours a week or 80 hours over each two-week pay period. Our plan - completely optional for anyone who wanted to participate - was to work nine hours a day for eight of the days, eight hours a day for the ninth day, and be off the tenth day. (9x8 + 8 = 80) The tenth day was staggered so that it was one of the following: the first Monday of the pay period, the first Friday of the pay period, the second Monday of the pay period, or the second Friday of the pay period. (That way there was always 75% of the workforce present on any given Monday or Friday.) The net effect was a GIANT bost in morale at no cost and even a few benefits: People did more cross training to cover the absences of their co-workers and most people used their tenth day as a time to do the errands that they might have otherwise done during one of their "regular" days.

ATSC was also a place for lots of family time. I coached or helped coach Robert in baseball and soccer (great times). He also tried basketball and wrestling, the latter much to Bonnie's anguish. Soccer was especially fun. I would show up for practice and find the kids already there, never late. They loved it and so did we. Bonnie and I also ran the activities for the chapel-sponsored youth group, and that was also fun. We were just 25 minutes from Busch Gardens, so that was nice, also. In fact the whole area had lots of nice places to visit: Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, the Pottery Factory, Virginia Beach, the Norfolk waterfront.

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