[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                  February 22, 2008
Training

First Sergeants Course adds 
Blue Tracker section

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.

Photo: 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)
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 training."

      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 situational awareness."

      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 said.

       "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 return."

      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 awesome."

 

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