If “Love is…” having a “Where’s My Weapon” moment together –or holding her hair while she barfs– then Hell is the innumerable Army-mandated “at home” websites that soldiers have to navigate on a regular basis. I presume that there are sites like these for the other services as well.
“DTS” is “Defense Travel Services”, and it is the military website for making travel arrangements. You go there and state the type of travel you are going to undertake (annual training, permanent change of station, individual training, leadership academies, etc) and how travel is going to be done (generally by air, but personal vehicle, train, ship, and others are available)… you get the idea. You pretty much have to plot out where you are going, when and for how long, why, who is going to pay for it– the “funding strings” are mile-long alphanumeric jumbles and you just have to instinctively know which one applies to you.
There are basically two types of soldiers in the Army: people who hate and loathe DTS, and those who clearly don’t understand the magnitude of the problem. Of course every unit has that one guy or gal that actually understands the system and can work miracles but if that person ever leaves, gets sick, or dies, you are up Feces River.
And of course, “getting there” is half the ordeal. When you come back you have to close out your travel order, submitting paperwork and receipts and rationales and justifications. There is a button to upload all this, but it seems to shift position each time you need to use it. Then 10,000 random strangers (okay, actually, about a half dozen) have to authorize everything and sign off on it, and if any one of them disagrees with anything you entered (and it could be a matter of the “wrong wording” used) then the whole process starts anew. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and if you don’t arrange payment before time runs out then you are charged personally and you have to navigate the system to get personally reimbursed– as you can imagine, once they have their money they are not in a hurry to prioritize your inconvenience.
Of course, if you don’t (or can’t) pay and your travel charges go into arrears, the nice thing is you entire chain of command will be held equally responsible, so if you’re willing to play a game of chicken and take a bad credit hit for awhile you can dig in and refuse to pay and watch everyone above you burn until they see to it that funds are available. It’s not pleasant, but it can get the job done as a last-ditch measure. Rest assured, your chain of command will remember your shenanigans.
The funny thing is, the DTS system is relatively new and the whole thing used to be handled by an office called SATO. I don’t remember what SATO stands for (I think it’s Soldier Air Travel Office) but they were essentially a civilian travel agency contracted to the Army and you used to just go through them and they’d handle billing through your chain of command. It was great, easy, and the SATO travel agents were smart and easy to work with (at least in my experience). You just went to their office, gave them a copy of your orders (which included your authorized travel days) and they got tickets for you. Even now, DTS still has SATO handle the actual ticket procurement, but forces the soldier to to do all the other legwork surrounding travel.
I guess some Congressman’s cousin had a great idea for a travel website, and now we’re stuck with the nightmare that is DTS.