[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                        May 23, 2008
Training

WMA teaches reserve-component 
Soldiers convoy tactics

By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff

      Army National Guard and Reserve Soldiers honed their convoy skills during a walk-, crawl- and run-training program held in May at the Wisconsin Military Academy (WMA) at Fort McCoy.

Photo: Students sharpen their convoy skills on the Virtual Convoy Operations Training computer software system at the Wisconsin Military Academy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Students sharpen their convoy skills on the Virtual Convoy Operations Training computer software system at the Wisconsin Military Academy. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      The crawl phase began at the WMA Simulation Center, with a course on convoy simulation. Staff Sgt. Christopher Theis, a WMA Simulation Center specialist, said the WMA uses the Virtual Convoy Operations Training (VCOT) computer software system, which teaches the most current convoy tactics for use in-theater. The National Guard Bureau issued the WMA the equipment to support training.

      "You have to know the rules of engagement and which threat is most imminent to your safety during convoy training," Theis said. "(Establishing and maintaining good) communication between the convoy members also is very important."

      Staff Sgt. Douglas Krueger, a WMA Infantry instructor, said the instruction personnel get before they get into the vehicles and do convoy training in the field is very important. During the convoy simulation training, instructors can critique Soldiers' reactions and offer helpful feedback at any time during the simulations. Soldiers can ask questions about incidents and their responses, and possible alternative actions.

      The Soldiers also can repeat scenarios and pick up valuable information and insight they might have missed the first time through a scenario, Krueger said.

      The crawl part of the training also included an introduction to infantry squad tactics  training. This covered dismounted squad tactics training, he said.

Photo: Army National Guard and Reserve Soldiers honed their convoy skills during a walk-, crawl- and run-training program held in May at the Wisconsin Military Academy (WMA) at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette) (The Real McCoy Online Extra)
Army National Guard and Reserve Soldiers honed their convoy skills during a walk-, crawl- and run-training program held in May at the Wisconsin Military Academy (WMA) at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Rob Schuette) (The Real McCoy Online Extra)

      "This training would come into play during a convoy scenario if a convoy was attacked, and they had to get out of the vehicle (to find the perpetrators or to defend themselves)," Krueger said.

      The walk-through phase was done in the field before the convoy scenario. Krueger said this was a practice run, which allowed troops to go through a convoy scenario and tactics and review their actions.

      "This is a natural progression," Krueger said. "The training gives them insight into convoy tactics before they get into the vehicles and do that training."

      Staff Sgt. James Smithson, an Army National Guard Soldier with B Troop, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry of the 32nd Separate Infantry Brigade (Light) of Watertown, Wis., said the simulation training was helpful to teach his group the importance of using good communications techniques.

      "This training gives you the realism of being in the field without the risks," Smithson said. "The movement and the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) lanes we trained on gave us good recognition of what we would face during a deployment."

      Sgt. Terry L. DePew, an Army Reserve Soldier with the 412th Engineer Company of Scranton, Pa., said the training was far different than what he was used to as part of a tank crew.

      "This training really opened my eyes," DePew said. "I've never seen anything like this, and it's a lot more fast-paced than what I've seen."

      The communications and coordination between vehicles to deal with any obstacles, such as IEDs, is good groundwork to train them how to react to what they might face on the battlefield during a deployment, he said. DePew said he would take the information back to his unit, with the recommendation that other personnel attend the training.

      Spc. James T. Parker, an Army Reserve Soldier with the 785th Military Police Company of Michigan, said the VCOT and the IED lanes at Fort McCoy were exceptional training and teaching tools.

      "This was similar to what I saw when I was deployed, and is very realistic," Parker said. "This training is a great basis for someone who has no prior experience during a deployment - to show personnel the various responsibilities involved."

      Parker said he hoped there would be more access to this type of training during the pre-mobilization training period for other military personnel.

 

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