New App Provides Info on Installations for Army

Digital Garrison Mobile App for Army

Hot, New App Connects Military Community to Info on Army Garrisons

According to a Military Times article, the Digital Garrison app is connecting those who live near Army installations with information about a variety of programs, services, and offices on the installation.  Defense officials have emphasized that family support programs — and childcare in particular — are critical to keeping the force free of stress and focused on their missions. Readiness is a three-legged stool,” said Ronald Green, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. “We have unit readiness … I have family readiness, and I have personal readiness. And every warrior tries to balance that same stool.

About Digital Garrison

“Digital Garrison is a partnership between Army Installation Management Command and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. It connects those eligible to use installation services with information about those services, ranging from childcare to fitness and recreation options, to privatized housing offices and medical facilities. The United States Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) is a support formation of the United States Army responsible for the day-to-day management of Army installations around the globe. Army garrisons are communities that provide many of the same types of services expected from any small city. The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES, also referred to as The Exchange) is the retailer on U.S. Army and Air Force installations worldwide. The Exchange is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and its director/chief executive officer is Tom Shull. The oldest and the largest of the Department of Defense’s exchange services.

AAFES officials are in the process of talking to Air Force officials about a similar app for their installations, said Karen Cardin, AAFES’ senior vice president of customer experience.

New App Addresses Issues with Previous Similar Offerings

While some Army garrisons had developed their own apps in the past, they were inconsistent in cost, security levels and their ability to update information, said Scott Malcom, spokesman for Army Installation Management Command. By working with AAFES, officials have ensured the app is compliant with the Federal Information Security Management Act, which drives DoD and the Army cybersecurity rules and policies, he said. AAFES has long provided a secure online shopping portal and operates the Exchange Credit Program’s Military Star card for all the exchanges and the commissary system.

Not All Army Installations Are Included

Currently 62 Army installations participate out of the 75 active Army installations that IMCOM manages, including some overseas. Some others do not currently participate for various reasons, but may be brought on later, Malcom said. Army garrisons that are part of some joint bases that are under the jurisdiction of another military branch, such as Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, which is run by the Air Force, do not participate in the app.

Push Notifications and Auto-updating

Those using the app can customize it to their installation and can sign up for push notifications from the installation officials for important information such as inclement weather or active shooters, for example. If you move or travel to a different location, you just change the location. It will have the same look and feel in the app, said Malcom. The app is designed to make interactions easier for newcomers coming into the installation. It is directly, securely tied in with installations’ web sites, so that when information is updated on the sites, it is automatically available on the app, officials said.

There are some things notably missing, however, like commissaries. And there are not any plans to include private enterprises such as banks and credit unions into the app, said Malcom.

The Defense Commissary Agency is a separate entity, and those responsible for the app are working with commissary officials to introduce some basic capabilities to the app later this month or early in September, said Malcom. Digital Garrison will link to the local garrison flyer for commissary sales and promotions, and link to the Click2Go website, if that service is available at their commissary. Click2Go enables customers to order groceries online and pick them up curbside, and is currently available at six installations, including three Army installations in Virginia — Fort Lee, Fort Eustis, and Fort Belvoir.

It is a work in progress. In some cases, it is not clear where certain offices are, such as the household goods office. Malcom said officials are working to refine some categories. While information isn’t currently available on the app about whether the particular recreation option is open to these shoppers, they can call the number to find out.

Last summer, there were separate efforts to develop apps for information on installations, Malcom said, until AAFES and IMCOM joined efforts. But if they had stayed on those separate tracks, he said, “someone coming on base would have had to use three different apps” to accomplish the same task.

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About the author

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Justin Fisher is a currently serving with the Arkansas Army National Guard. His career has expanded two decades and has three deployments. He holds a Bachelor’s in Arts in Communications and hosts a weekly podcast featuring candid interviews with members of the military.