Defense Travel System: Why You Should Learn To Use It

We should all know what DTS is. It’s other names include: “Don’t Travel System”, “Defective Travel System”, along with many other fond nicknames. Remember back in the day, when your travel orders were on paper and you got to file an actual 1351-2 to get your travel pay reimbursed? Those lines of accounting were put on there by some magical person and you didn’t have to know what all additional instructions to put on there, they did it all for you. Sigh….ahh, those were the days. Now, we get a hard copy of our pay orders and have to use DTS (which involves a CAC reader, so head down to your local armory if you don’t have one at home).

Key information about DTS includes: for TDY ONLY (PCS will be done old-school style), uses your personal bank account and GOVCC and allows for split disbursements, can make all your travel arrangements for you (from air to lodging to rental cars). Your state will have its own policies in regard to what needs to be put on each authorization (what documents to upload, what additional instructions to check, etc).

I used to be one of a handful of people in my state that had every kind of access imaginable to DTS. Not only did I approve travel, I had to manage our lines of accounting and create our budgets. Because I was responsible for approving everyone in Oregon Aviation’s travel authorizations and vouchers, I got to be pretty familiar with DTS and didn’t have a hard time using it. Where I noticed the problems were with the M-Day Soldiers, who didn’t travel very often. The full time staff used it pretty frequently and could generally produce their own authorizations and vouchers without much help.

While we are authorized to input things on behalf of the Soldier, I don’t think this is the best plan. Soldiers should know how to do things that involve their pay, especially as this system was created to have Soldiers do their own.  Since I left the full time force, I have had issues with DTS on occasion. This is because, and I quote, “We aren’t used to officers doing their own travel.” THIS IS THE WRONG ANSWER!

Soldiers, take ownership in this. If you don’t know how to even access the DTS website (hint: ), ask your training NCO to put on a class for how to sign on and use it. If you don’t know, chances are, there are others who don’t as well. If you know you have a school coming up, head to the armory and sit down with your training NCO and have them help you. They should be happy to do this. Or, pair up with someone in your unit who is a full time technician or who knows how to use DTS and ask them for help. If necessary, you can do everything but sign it and have your training NCO check it over before routing it to the next level of authority.

Training NCOs, make things easier for yourselves and type up a user-friendly guide to making authorizations and vouchers. Make a copy for everyone in your unit.

Bottom line: Learn how to use DTS, it’s designed for the end-user. There are plenty of resources available to help you learn, and you will be a better leader for it.

5 thoughts on “Defense Travel System: Why You Should Learn To Use It”

  1. It’s imperative that soldiers know how to use the systems in place, especially when it comes to their pay. This is where proper training comes in. There needs to be an overhaul with the system so that it’s accessible and easy to use for everyone. It can be overwhelming for a new soldier, even with today’s young people being more tech savvy.

  2. I believe that with the technology we have these days, the system could be made more user friendly. Every soldier should have mandatory training on it and it should be made into a simple system with those who check it each week for discrepancies.

    This wouldn’t be difficult. I think the Army sometimes makes things harder than they need to be. DTS fits in that category. With that rant, leaders, try to train your soldiers in the best way possible.

  3. Well, I used to share the same conviction and used to bust my Training NCO all the time as a joke. But, I would say it depends on the BTN you are in. My Training NCO is SOO busy with everything else that he simply doesn’t have enough time to do that for the Soldiers. However, we do lack the proper training to show the Soldiers how to use the system… The problem lies in that the system isn’t easy to use and its a complicated process which, sometimes their techs, don’t even understand.

  4. Candace,

    What a great article! FINALLY! An article about DTS! In my opinion, DTS is a broken system and there are many flaws. It is particularly not user-friendly for NG Soldiers (especially young Joes). One recommendation I would have to fix the system is to skip the Soldier having to do all the voucher work. Hell, you use your GOV Travel Card and everything comes in a statement…why can’t a DTS official review the credit statement, authorize what they are paying for based on the orders and call it a day? That is how the private sector does it…(at least my firm).

    1. I think having the Soldier do everything themselves is nothing more than a cop out. The AGR Staff should do it, especially for M-Day Soldiers. Just my two cents.

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