RE: Consequences of inadequate docs/training

Subject: RE: Consequences of inadequate docs/training
From: Jim Shaeffer <jims -at- spsi -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 29 Mar 2002 08:28:46 -0500

Disclaimer: This is not a critique of the specific documentation and
training involved in this incident, but it has raised a more general

I can see how the documentation on "Changing the Battery" would be
in a section of the manual covering "Routine Inspections" or
"Preventive Maintenance". Thus, "Changing the Battery" would be
categorized in the same frame of reference as "Cleaning the Gun."
You do not clean your gun while in the middle of a firefight. Why would
you ever change the battery in the middle of battle?
Obviously, the battery had to be replaced in the middle of a battle,
but how do we writers avoid such blind spots in documentation?
These blind spots occur in every kind of documentation, not just
the military.

Jim Shaeffer (jims -at- spsi -dot- com)

> > ... the Air Force combat controller was using a Precision
> > Lightweight GPS Receiver, ... to calculate the Taliban's coordinates
> > for a B-52 attack. ...
> >
> > Then, with the B-52 approaching the target, ... the receiver battery
> > died.
> >
> > Without realizing the machine was programmed to come back on showing
> > the coordinates of its own location, the controller mistakenly called
> > in the American position to the B-52. ...
> >
> > ... the incident shows that the Air Force and Army have a serious
> > training problem that needs to be corrected. "We need to know how
> > our equipment works; when the battery is changed, it defaults to
> > his own location," the official said. "We've got to make sure our
> > people understand this."
> This struck me as an object lesson in, among other things, the
> importance of documentation, testing, training, ...

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