Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Customer's Guide to Making Life Easier for your MTO (and thus, yourself as well)
Most men and trainees have no idea what goes on behind the scenes, but anyone who has done planning or is a commander of some sort would understand the necessity of this post.
Make life easier for the MTO? bastard who never delivers vehicles where you want them, when you want them? the one glitch in your smoothly running life? C'mon, spare a thought. You have one glitch in your life, he has anywhere between 3 - 7 glitches, depending on how many units his camp has.
Making his life easier will not guarantee you getting what you want, but it will put a smile on his face when he sees one great indent in the list of many screwed-up ones, it means he will try his darnedest best to get you what you want, and if he apologises for his inability to provide the service you require you can be sure he means it from the bottom of his heart.
So, yeah, make life easy for him, make life easy for yourself. Here's how:
1. Be reasonable. If you're just going to send some equipment to GSMB, wait while it gets repaired, then RTU, don't make the driver wait for you too. If you're going to be there for at least 2 hours, do have the courtesy to send the driver back, then ask for him again when you do need him. An MT Line will almost never have sufficient manpower, and the last thing I need is you aggravating this situation unnecessarily.
Also, it does not take 5 hours to deliver a document to CMPB and return to camp. Especially when you ask for a GP car. Indent accordingly.
2. Be flexible. If I ask you to share a vehicle with someone else don't go all anal on me and refuse no matter what. If there really is no way to do it at least offer other dates you are okay with.
3. Don't expect miracles. If you ask for a vehicle the next day and send the indent only the afternoon before don't be surprised if I can't provide drivers. Also be prepared to get less than you asked for, especially if what you want is 12 landrovers and 2 5-tonners.
I can help ask for support from a general transport unit, but I require that you submit such requests at least one month in advance. And I also need you to understand that confirmation of such requests will not come so early. And is not guaranteed either.
Moral of the story: If you want to plan something big, don't neglect the MTO, don't do it last-minute, and make sure it is sustainable. Too many senior commanders (especially government scholars) love planning really big exercises and events, then blowing their tops when they are told it is unsustainable. We need more logisticians at the top, I'm telling you. At least one year of experience in a logistics-related appointment, excluding S4 and DyS4. Meaning MTO, QM, TSO (tech store), or other on-the-ground type of logistic role.
We don't need another CO bellowing "WTF!?" when informed that only 2 out of 10 tanks are still moveable. Yes, I know it sounds like we screwed up big time, but sometimes we didn't (someone else did; perhaps no one did, things like this can happen spontaneously because of no one's fault), and the first thing you should do is tell us what you want to do about it instead of lambasting us for letting things screw up so bad. I respect a boss who gets things done without pushing the blame around.
4. Be understanding. I don't need you to understand that I have no more drivers and cannot support your exercise because my digestive system is not advanced enough to synthesise new machine operators. I just need you to understand that at times I can give you all the drivers I have and it will still be insufficient, but you have my assurance I will do all in my power to find the resources you need from all over the Army (though that is no guarantee; a 2LT has much less power than most people think).
I also need you to understand that we are a logistics unit, not a training unit; you can squeeze me until I pee my guts out and I still might not be able to give you the 12 landrovers and 6 5-tonners, with their respective drivers, that you need. If I could stay up the whole night to craft you a new driver, teach him how to drive and get the necessary paperwork done I would have done it. This are the unchangeable facts of life and they do not change even if you manage to get a BG to breathe down my neck.
Of course, feel free to meet me for lunch and work out a mutually beneficial arrangement; I'm always open to compromises. If you're happy I'm happy.
5. Don't be a wanker. If I can't provide you with drivers you have every right to let your immediate superior know, but I don't see the need for you to CC it to your CO and my FM (fleet manager) when it's just a small (platoon-level) exercise and you're just a fucking 2SG. And don't play members of the MT Line against each other to get what you want; it may work in the short-term but you'll just be well-hated in the long-term. I am the one doing the detailing, so if I say no don't ask my MT Sgt to approve the indent; yes, I should have sorted things like this out with my MT Sgt but it's not as easy as it sounds, and before it is done the last thing I need is you exploiting this situation.
6. Keep yourself updated. I don't want to spam the inboxes of the whole camp whenever we change appointments, ORD or get posted in. Stop sending your indents to CPL X and 2LT Z when both of them have ORDed weeks ago. If you don't seem to be getting replies perhaps it's time to give the MT Line a call, and get to know the new kids on the block.
7. Don't assume. Don't indent a vehicle 2 months in advance, shut up, become a reclusive hermit and then expect it to turn up on the day itself. Sure, you have every right to ("but I told you already what"), but having the right to expect it to turn up is not the same as actually having it turn up. Call every fortnight to confirm the vehicles and drivers you asked for are still there, increase the frequency of your calls as the day draws near (just once a week will do, thank you), and call 1-2 days in advance to confirm your indent. It's troublesome and you don't have to do it, but it's for your own good, not mine. All I suffer is a lower fulfillment rate and a slight sense of guilt.
Why, you ask? Because things change. A driver might suddenly break his leg. The MT Line might suddenly be activated for recall manning. COA might suddenly decide to visit. And we can't predict these kind of things 2 months in advance.
8. Don't be vague. There may or may not be a standard indent form in your unit, but I'm sure every MTO will appreciate it if you will provide at least the following details:
Start and end of indent (date + time; also see point 1. Don't hold the drivers later than you have to.)
Locations (where the vehicle will be going; training area, camp, etc)
Report to (who the driver should look for, where the driver should go)
Contact no (who the driver should call)
Purpose of every single vehicle you ask for (safety rover, admin rover, store tonner, ferry tonner, equipment to be used in vehicle, etc. We do need to prepare them beforehand.)
Other details if possible (no of passengers, extra equipment needed in vehicle - FFR cable/mounting board/mounting bracket for signal set etc.)
9. Don't be an asshole. If you need your vehicles labelled please do it yourself. When you're out on exercise and it's raining don't huddle in your Goretex and ask the driver to retrieve stuff for you. And do be nice to the drivers. You should scold them if they are rude or unreasonably uncooperative, but please make sure they are fed, taken care of and given sufficient rest. The safety of you and your men/trainees depends on them, accidents are a real bitch, but all I do is paperwork, the ones who will die horribly are the victims of the accident, and the guys who deprived the drivers of their sleep.
10. Accept that the MTO is king of his domain, and respect him even if you don't see any reason to. If he rejects requests don't hurl abuse at him. Don't tell him how to do his job; I don't presume to know how your department works, and certainly do not consider myself able to run your department better than you can, so I expect likewise from you.
The above pointers are not the 10 commandments of MT Line customers, they are meant as a guideline for those who are not requesting vehicles through CFMS (fancy computerised vehicle requesting system) yet. You can break all of them if you want to. But you have my utmost assurance that if you do, I will do all I can in my power to make your life during my NSF liability hell on earth. I will put your requests as low on my priority list as I can, I will chuckle with glee every time I reply that my MT Line has been stretched to the max and I can't give you what you want, and I will report all abuse of my vehicles and drivers to the relevant authorities. And I hope that gives you nightmares.
Do your best to make life easy for me and I can make life really good for you. No, I can't put you top of the priority list - that belongs to Ops and Exercises/training. But I have other ways - let's just say not all drivers are equal. And neither are the vehicles ^_- You will always have access to my professional opinion, and where possible I might even offer suggestions to your transport problems you would never have thought of. And if I can't do any of the above I will do my utmost best to offer a solution that won't be too harsh on you.
There are other ways of making your life easy as well. Get the MTO's handphone number, and get your number in his handphone (you'll need a really good working relationship to do that with me. And possibly a lunch or two). Get the KAHs (key appt holders) to know your face and name, and know them by face and name too. It takes sincere effort, but is well worth the investment.