By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff
Real-world events are bringing to an end the days when students
learned mostly administrative tasks in the First Sergeants Course.
More war-fighting events are being incorporated into the curriculum.
Students in a First Sergeants
Course learn the basics of the Blue Force Tracker system during
a session at the Wisconsin Military Academy Simulation Center.
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
With a little help from the Wisconsin Military Academy (WMA),
students in the Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer
(NCO) Academy of the 2nd Brigade (Leader Readiness), 104th Division
(Leader Training), First Sergeants Course at Fort McCoy learned about
the Blue Force Tracker system. The NCO Academy is part of the 2nd
Brigade (LR), 104th Division (LT), which reports to the 84th Training
Command (Leader Readiness.)
The course runs for 15 continuous days with a preresidence
phase required before the on-site training.
Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Martinson, the NCO Academy commandant,
said the First Sergeants Course used computer software available at
the WMA Simulation Center to support the training.
"A lot of National Guard Soldiers, as well as Army Reserve
Soldiers, go through the course," Martinson said. "So, the
cooperation helped Soldiers from both organizations get the proper
Master Sgt. Curt Watts, the course manager for the First
Sergeants Course, said the course incorporated the Blue Force Tracker
training because the Soldiers would use that type of equipment in the
theaters of operation.
"The equipment is mounted in the vehicles, including
up-armored vehicles, and the global positioning system can tell you
where you're at," Watts said. "The training increases their
The Blue Force Tracker system provides a lot of information,
such as the locations of friendly units and vehicles.
Watts said enemy locations can be loaded into the system, as
well. The system also allows for text messages to be sent, which are
much more secure and quieter than voice traffic.
Sgt. 1st Class Josh Koch, a Simulation Center specialist for
the WMA, said having the class with Army Reserve, National Guard and
active-duty personnel encourages them to share their experiences and
develop a working relationship.
The WMA hopes to
schedule more First Sergeants Courses into the training, and also
continue to build the clientele using its Simulation Center, Koch
"If the first
sergeants are deployed, taking the Blue Force Tracker training will
give them an understanding of the system before they arrive
in-theater," Koch said.
1st Sgt. Judson Meyer of D Company of the 1st, 194th Combined
Arms Battalion of St. Cloud, Minn., said the training built on the
knowledge he already had of Blue Force Tracker.
"It's a good tool if we get deployed," Meyer said.
"I'll share this information with members of the unit when I
1st Sgt. Dennis Moody of the Headquarters and Headquarters
Battalion, 1st, 158th Field Artillery of Lawton, Okla., said the Blue
Force Tracker was great training.
"If my unit gets deployed, I've got a head's-up on the
system," he said. "The capabilities for communications are