The US Armed Forces has not always been as accessible as it is today in terms of information. Prior to the internet era, computer training was more of a luxury than the accepted norm. Manuals and directives were kept in paper form and was dependent on timely submission of changes and modifications. Service records were kept in the same manner. This system of record keeping was often tedious and even counter-productive. The military recognized this as a problem, but were not technologically advanced enough to solve this problem. Eventually, force reductions and other factors created an even bigger problem: records management without trained personnel.
Another problem began to surface as it relates to educating personnel. As anyone who served in the US Armed Forces, pre-internet era, knows it can be very difficult to obtain a formal college education. Considerations had to be made for duty schedules, missions, deployments and other things. The typical method of obtaining non-traditional education was through correspondence courses. While this was relatively inexpensive to the student, it was also very dependent upon the US Mail. Lost certificates, or course materials was a major problem. All of this often cost members points toward promotions. Eventually, top military leaders determined that online computer training was the way to go.
Online computer training would be another step towards taking the military training program from the 20th Century right into the 21st Century. Taking the military online would not only alleviate this problem, but would help prepare the military for other advances in technology.
In order to accomplish this task, the military had to recognize shortfalls and make steps towards alleviating them. Realizing that the military had members who were computer savvy, and trainable aided in the transition, however there were not enough personnel available. Often, members who had obtained computer training while in the military were leaving for higher paying jobs in the civilian sector.
The first step the military took to move forward with technology was to establish a military occupational specialty (MOS) for computer programmers. The military actively recruited from technical colleges, often offering monetary incentives to prospects. Incentives included: traditional tuition assistance and bonuses. These members were provided with computer training; hardware, software, networking and more. In addition to programming, members with that MOS were charged with maintaining computer networks. Individual commands created their own Information Services Management Offices (ISMO) composed of computer trained members. Through ISMO’s local commands were connected via local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN). This proved to be a very intelligent move on the part of the military.
Once established, members holding this MOS were offered incentives to remain in the military service; bonuses, guaranteed duty station assignments, among others.
Having computer trained personnel in the military has provided the military with the ability to keep pace with technology. With the advent of the internet, and the subsequent technology explosion came several more advances. These advances have allowed the military to create online environments. Through these online endeavors, the military has stream-lined record keeping practices and made online computer training available to it’s members across the globe.
With all of these advances, the US Armed Forces has become a military force of the future.