By Lt. Blake Fountain, Instructor,
Navy Supply Corps School
As the “Cradle of the Corps,” the Navy Supply Corps School (NSCS) lays the foundation for every Supply Corps officer’s career. In my time at the schoolhouse, as both student and new instructor, it is evident that synergistic relationships between staff and students contribute to improved instruction and student comprehension. While the fundamental principles of supply management are timeless, today’s high-caliber and technically savvy students motivate instructors like me to pursue more innovative course content delivery methods.
Feedback from fleetwide stakeholders during the recent Board of Visitors conference coupled with student survey response trends, led to the current initiative to create, and model more real-world experiences across all disciplines and curriculums. Practical exercises and exposure to scenarios, based on first hand ethical and technical challenges faced by NSCS instructors, will yield better prepared junior supply officers. This major effort underway is to create Hands-On Learning Experiences (HOLEs) within the curriculum to bridge the gap between standard PowerPoint instruction and practical application. One such exercise, developed by the Basic Qualification Course (BQC) supply management instructors, assigns each student as financial manager of USS Duarte’s Operating Target (OPTAR). Students are directly responsible for processing and balancing financial documents such as transmittal letters, utilizing an extensive Excel financial spreadsheet to solve complex problems in accordance with comptroller financial guidance.
Students develop a deeper appreciation of cause-and-effect relationships among grants and augments, obligation and de-obligation, end-of-month Budget OPTAR Report (BOR) procedures, and the subsequent impact of poor management depicted by the Summary Filled Order Expenditure Difference Listing (SFOEDL). Since there are no real-world financial repercussions, the introduction of HOLEs throughout the curriculum allows students to transition from basic knowledge to realistic practical application, for enhanced understanding of fleet readiness implications.
The driving force behind HOLEs is the desire to deliver improved foundational technical competence from the onset of a Supply Corps officer’s career. Few practical exercises could match the on-the-job training officers experience after checking aboard their first platform. The effective use of HOLEs will certainly minimize their learning curve. Creating HOLEs to increase technical realism is one of many ways the NSCS staff is rigorously working to ensure our students are “Ready for Sea.”