Tips for Staff Working in a Formation HQ - A SNCO and WO Perspective - Part 2By Zachary Williams & Daniel Trew May 16, 2019
SGT Daniel Trew, HQ 3 Brigade - EME Operations Sergeant
My Top Tips:
1. Computing Skills. Brush up on computing skills. Have a sound knowledge of all Office applications, especially spreadsheets, pivot tables and PowerPoint. The ability to convey information is essential to produce desired outcomes. Certainly a refresh on Defence Writing Standards will make life easier and save a lot of red pens.
2. MILIS. The position is heavily orientated around MILIS, so having a good understanding of MILIS and how the direct command units operate is important. Be able to extract data efficiently and accurately in order to enable maximum maintenance effect. The big learning curve was being responsible for MILIS reporting (equipment health, nameplate attributes, outstanding labour, and equipment usage reports) rather than data entry. Vulcan is another good tool to assist with data extraction.
3. BMS. Have a basic knowledge of BMS.
4. SharePoint Be able to update/add documents to SharePoint.
5. Objective. Use correct record and naming standards.
6. TASKORDS. Drafting TASKORDS for the S03 is another simple task. While the information is extracted from FORCOMD TASKORDs it’s our job to decipher and value add for our direct command units. We use a template which makes life easier. Clear direction and minimal moving parts for direct command units is the key to success.
7. Networking. Have a good knowledge on how your direct command units operate. Being a 3 Bde Soldier for many years has assisted in building networks in the brigade and surrounding units. This speeds up the information gathering, taskings and opens communication channels.
SGT Zachary Williams , HQ 3 Brigade - Plans Cell Sergeant
1. A good understanding of the Common Joint Staff System. This may seem like a 'no-brainer' to many officers or anyone that has worked in a headquarters before, but to a combat soldier like me and many others who haven’t worked in a headquarters environment before this was a hurdle. Especially in my first few weeks I constantly had to ask who people were referring to when they used staff numbers. As a SNCO working among Captains and Majors this had the potential to waste time and make me look pretty stupid sometimes. This could have easily been avoided by a quick scan through LWP-G 0-5-1 Staff Officers Guide to rehash on some of the things covered in subject courses.
2. Engage and build relationships with key players in the CSR (or relevant supporting unit.). In a Brigade level headquarters almost everything we do comes through the CSR. As a SNCO working in the S35 Cell I did business with the CSR Q Store almost daily. Likewise the CSR Ops Cell enables most of the activities we conduct as a headquarters. Understand the way they do business and comply with their processes. There will be a number of occasions where you will be forced to make extremely short notice and difficult demands of your supporting unit and you will often get away with it because you are their Formation HQ. Think forward and avoid this as much as possible as it will damage the relationship between the two units. Conversely giving your supporting unit some early warning for demands and involving the key players in your planning early when you are able means your late notice demands down the track will be far better received.
3. Know where to find things, know who to talk to. As a SNCO in the HQ environment I often found that I was the guy that people came to when they wanted to know about a wide range of administrative tasks. Some examples include:
- How to find/use Doctrine Online
- Ordering hard copy pams
- Available conference rooms/training areas in your local area and how to book them
- Base Standing Orders
- Booking accommodation
- Booking transport/white fleet/hire cars
- TASMIS and range standing orders
- Unit facilities within your brigade and how to book them
- Army Dress Manual
- Army Ceremonial and Protocol Manual
- Location of various things on the base
- Where to find the writing on ‘X’
- Phone number of the guy that looks after ‘Y’
- Anything to do with Sharepoint or Objective
Some of these are things that you will know already through experience and others you will have to actively seek out. More often than not just knowing who to talk to in a direct command unit Ops Cell can save time and solve problems. A few times in my appointment in the plans cell we were able to find work around solutions to problems because we were aware of all options available to us. The Officers you work for may not have the same level of knowledge as you when it comes to enabling activities such as these and will likely lean on you to assist them.
4. Understand how a TASKORD/OPORD and the like are created and disseminated from start to finish. Something that I wish I knew before I posted in. Given that written orders are the primary way in which the Brigade HQ gets things done whilst in barracks I really should have asked about the process before I was knee deep in it. Not just formatting or tone (although still important) but the process for creation of an order and its movement from future to current ops, how it’s released and under what authority would have been useful knowledge prior to posting into a planning position.
5. Be prepared to do a wide range of tasks, don’t hesitate to step outside your role if you are able to help someone out, do the work that is in front of you. My position during my posting was officially ‘Assistant Admin Future Ops’, but the reality is that within the Brigade HQ people are used in any capacity that they may be useful. Be prepared to assist the organisation in a number of ways. Unit training and basic soldier skills revision will often fall to SNCOs. As an example I was employed as a CSM of the HQ FWD during field exercises, LO to the local police during base lockdown drills, and utilised as an Armoured SME for brigade planning as well as performing my role as assistant admin. Understanding your personal strengths and where you can apply them even if it sits outside your job role can really help the organisation run a lot smoother.