FORT KNOX, Ky. –
The technology used for bringing Future Soldiers into the U.S. Army is about to change in a big way, and 1st Brigade recruiters will be the first to experience it.
U.S. Army Recruiting Command leaders selected the brigade’s Syracuse Recruiting Battalion to be the pilot location for the new Accessions Information Environment. The battalion is scheduled to kickoff AIE in early summer of next year.
The pilot will be a milestone for a large-scale project that has been years in the making. AIE is a term familiar to some, maybe not for those newer to USAREC.
In short, AIE was designed to give recruiters and USAREC leadership information control in real-time. It allows them to create, access, apply, transport, and register information for enterprise-wide use. It significantly increases capabilities in prospecting, interviewing, processing, leading Future Soldiers, and sustainment.
David Richardson, AIE management analyst, monitors the growth and evolution of the enterprise daily. He is part of a very large AIE team preparing a massive upgrade to decades-old technology.
“It’s a fundamental change to 30 years of the legacy system,” Richardson said.
Modifications to the old system have already been forced upon USAREC in response to recruiting in a pandemic environment, Richardson noted. The command continued to make its accessions mission despite the on-the-fly adaptations.
“AIE is going to make that even easier,” Richardson said.
The AIE pilot is expected to last three to four months before AIE begins rolling out to multiple battalions, according to Dr. Jonathan Norton, deputy director of USAREC’s Strategic Management Directorate. Norton has been part of AIE’s development since soon after it was born with modernization efforts six years ago.
The scale of AIE was immense from the beginning, Norton said, but it was originally just a USAREC project. It has since grown even bigger, extending to the two other components of Future Soldier creation: U.S. Army Cadet Command (the main procurer of Army officers) and the Army National Guard.
What AIE will specifically look like for the pilot is still in development, Norton said, but AIE was designed to be cutting-edge. The target end state of AIE involves complex integration of new devices, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and a laundry list of tech terms.
“We contracted for some really cool stuff,” Norton said.
A key AIE component, Richardson said, is its “mobile-first design.” AIE is intended to be device agnostic, meaning it is not tied to any particular desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. Authorized users will be able to access data and applications from any device any time.
With AIE, “(recruiters) can do their job anywhere,” Richardson said.
Upgrading to a modern, mobile accessions environment has involved a lot of time and resources. From September 2016 through June 2017, for example, 61 different USAREC subject matter experts spent more than 1200 man-hours defining AIE system requirements.
It was around that same time three years ago, Richardson noted, when USAREC’s current information system completely crashed and showed why all the AIE efforts were so important.
“We couldn’t recruit for three weeks,” he said.
Modernizing the old system will not be completed “traditionally, all at once,” Richardson said. The pilot is scheduled within the first of five AIE deployment waves.
The complexity of AIE and pandemic restrictions is keeping the plan fluid, but USAREC leaders hope to expand to a second site and have more than 200 AIE users when the next fiscal year starts in October. Growth is expected to quickly jump from there, with plans for more than 60 sites and 10,000 AIE users the following year.