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.


lun said...

power lah js. haha

kureshii said...

Damn, lun, I keep saying we have to meet up one of these days but I keep forgetting. Not anytime next week - I'm on recall manning. Maybe end of june...

lun said...

haha not anytime soon. i got saf day and ndp to settle first.

Peter said...

how long is ur ord day??? relax bro.. is SAF.. all sort of things screw up there..

Kev said...

Lol.I still remember having to indent vehicles to go STK every month.And the MT Sgt at 6 DIV would approve my indent which was incidentally sent 3 weeks in advance (for a morning slot), etc etc and suddenly my transport clerk would tell me on the morning itslf that no vehicle can make it.

And I would just gasp in horror.But yeah, MTOs like you are hard to find lol.

I agree that the Logistics people are underrepresented at FMN and DIV level..especially so for us armament guys too..

lip said...

haha.. good post. too bad i'm out of the army liao.

yeah sometimes transport can be the LEAST of a PC's concerns, but can COCK up a hell lot of shit.

i remember once, the driver broke the rear window of the minivan. Hell man.

thank god i had good relations with the MTO. Could cover up everything by finding the shop to repair. Could never have happened if the MTO doesn't want to help me. V comd sign a lot of extras one u know.

Anyway, good post, and that attitude would serve you well when you start working:)

kureshii said...

Yeah kev, I know - I've screwed some of them peoples like you too, sometimes my fault, sometimes no fault of mine. Never assume your vehicle indent is confirmed until you get a vocal/email confirmation the day before. In the transfer from email to computer to paper some things inevitably get lost along the way. And they have this damn encryption software installed that doesn't allow me to bring my work home. security over efficiency.

Kev said...

Kure..nah I never had to talk to the MTO..usually il just email the MT Sergeant.Usually my poor transport clerk got it harsh from one of the workshop ICs..poor dude.

But I can only protect him this much..cant block a WOs anger. lol

kureshii said...

Well in my case I have no idea what the MT Sgt was doing before I got posted in and he looked like he had his hands full just trying to look for lost vehicle logbooks and managing VOR vehicles, and suddenly it was no longer about trying not to kena arrow by him to take care of fuel cards and stuff, it was about start-doing-detailing-or-watch-MT Line-fall-apart.

Yeah, it was that bad. So here you have a fine specimen of the only MTO in the whole Army who has to do detailing by himself, instead of getting his MT Sgt (drivers begged me not to let him) or a detail clerk (helping the storemen sort out their big mess) to do it for him.

Things should get better once my understudy comes back from his course, so don't worry about me. Besides, I'm one of the lucky ones to have a DyFM who's quite on the ball, and supportive of my plans.

Agagooga said...

The bigshot regulars don't spend time as logistics officers. Sad right.

Won't the drivers themselves die horribly too?

Lucky you're not in their units, or you'll die a tragic death when they get pissed off :) Centralised MT lines are such a joy.

Why not send this email to your whole camp? ;)

kureshii said...

Yeah, there are periods when the drivers are on the verge of rebelling. Usually happens when I'm away on course.

CMTLs a joy? Yeah right. Sure, you don't get targetted by your unit so often to do shit like be neutral for IPPT, IO for investigations, and be Witnessing officer for a whole load of crap, but you become the common target board of the whole camp.

And your work load increases a few times, especially when your FM thinks too highly of you and decides to design a CMTL structure with only one MTO supporting 4 units. And that's with the shit my upperstudy left behind too.

160mto said...

It's good to see another MTO posting.
My experience was a little different at times though. I had a MT Line that swelled to 80 drivers sometimes, including reservists as my unit is combat but not part of the army. Combined active and reservist unit. imagine 1 mto, 1 mt warrant, 40 active MT Line personnel and another 40 more. Command and control was really challenging.
Then there's driver's IPPT for me. All the morning RT sessions, all the 10 tonner breakdowns in the middle of the night, the massive AOE requirements for 30++ vehicles. (We do towing you see... and one platoon requires about 8 vehicles.)
But it was most enjoyable being a MTO. Some of your men can really be impressive and have a good sense of brotherhood with their MTO too.

I agree with the statement... not all drivers and not all vehicles are equal.

Remember how we'd all hold our breath and how the MTwarrant used to pray at the altar just before our old 1970 10 tonnes go out for exercise.

Very challenging!
Cheers to all MTOs...
Shit from above... shit from below... shit from all around~

kureshii said...

Whoa, 80 drivers...I can only imagine :-\ But yeah, C&C would be a bitch.

Let me guess: DSMB/GSMB or 2PDF? No, wait, considering the no of drivers, perhaps even ETC...right?

Brotherhood in the MT Line is always A Good Thing, as long as you know how to manage it. Touches my heart everytime to see drivers willing to put themselves forward for weekend duties, even if I know their motives are somewhat suspicious. And touches my heart even more when drivers are willing to cover for each other and help out in their absence.

I don't have any big vehicles, thank god. Only some 5-tonners, the rest are all smaller vehicles.

160mto said...

We're non army,
From another branch of service.
I had up to 6 vehicle types.

Big headache training so many drivers... more so because our branch of service has SAFETY as one of it's main core values... Everyday can be very stressful... with so damn many details and the huge vehicles in our mtl increasing the chances of accidents.
But it was fulfilling.

shida said...

Hi, I bloghopped here.

Just wanted to say that my fiance is a driver in the army too, but now he's in Thailand for some exercise thing... I hate these overseas trips the most, urgh, damn irritating ah.