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HEIDELBERG, Germany — Lock yourself out of your account again? Forget your password? Network crash?

The 55,000 users of U.S. Army Europe computers, Blackberries and telephones should notice an improved response to their IT problems.

A centralized help desk, replacing more than 20 scattered throughout USAREUR, is now taking your calls or waiting for you to contact them online. The people there say if you can get online, they can probably solve your information technology problem in 10 minutes.

"If you call and say you can’t get to Google, and it turns out your computer is not plugged in, we’ll have to call someone within your organization — that’s touch labor," said Col. Joseph Brendler, commander of the 2nd Signal Brigade in Mannheim, which started and now runs the Enterprise Service Desk.

The number to call — DSN 119 — replaces numerous unit or garrison help desks that had previously provided services to their local organizations. Often in the past, it took 10 minutes or so just for confused computer users to figure out which number to call for help. Once they did, it was sometimes unclear whether the problem could be fixed locally or had to be elevated to a higher help desk.

"You might wait two to three hours just because you locked yourself out," said LeAnne MacAllister, spokeswoman for the 5th Signal Command.

The desk’s Web site — http://119.eur.army.mil — is accessible from all computers on the "EUR" domain.

Getting all of USAREUR’s units migrated to the new centralized system took about 2½ years, Brendler said. The change was initiated as part of a 5th Signal effort to improve its services in line with best business practices, Brendler said.

He said the help desk gets nearly 2,000 requests for help weekly. The three top reasons for people needing help, Brendler said, appeared to be being locked out of accounts, needing to reset passwords and having problems with Microsoft Office.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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