JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS - The Honorable Thomas R. Lamont, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), was invited by Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, to get a firsthand look Feb. 9 at how the Army's Learning Model enhances real-world water logistics missions.
Lamont toured the U.S. Army Transportation School's Maritime and Intermodal Training Department's Simulation Training facility and visited with Army mariners of the 7th Sustainment Brigade.
Mariners from all branches of service are afforded critical training at the simulation training center on a variety of scenarios geared toward increasing their overall ability to provide global water logistic capability whether in a combat environment or in support of humanitarian assistance missions, which for mariners assigned to the 7th Sustainment Brigade is a basic component of their daily operations.
"Simulation training gives the Soldier the feeling of being on a real ship," said Chief Warrant Officer Timothy N. Turner, marine operations officer in charge, 7th Sustainment Brigade. "Wave action, ship board systems, electronics, vessel traffic and background noise are variables the simulation can emulate. This allows us to keep the Army mariner proficient on vessel maneuvering, practical navigation, and the use of shipboard electronics such as radar and the Electronic Chart and Information System."
The first stop of the morning for Lamont was the simulation center where, within minutes of entering the building, he found himself standing on the bridge of an Army Landing Craft Utility alongside Cone, navigating choppy waters in an attempt to steer clear of approaching enemy watercraft. It was an appropriate precursor to the second portion of the visit, boarding and operating the brigade's Small Tug-900 in the waters surrounding 3rd Port.
On board the ST-900, Lamont asked vessel master Sgt. 1st Class Brian Shay, watercraft operator, 73rd Floating Craft, 10th Transportation Battalion, about his career as an Army mariner. Lamont then stepped in to the "driver's seat" to man the watercraft under Shay's watchful eye as he sailed the waters of 3rd Port.
According to the January 2011 TRADOC Pamphlet 525-8-2, "The U.S. Army Learning Concept for 2015," the Army Learning Model signifies a shift from concept to deliberate actions that will change the Army's individual learning methods and processes from a platform-centric, place-dependent model, to one that is as adaptable as our operational forces.
The ALM's adaptability provides an integral aspect in the enhancement of Army maritime training and the brigade's water logistic capability.
"The simulation center is used as a training tool for watercraft units on their road to war," Turner said. "Units conduct realistic team-building training while operating their vessel in various ports they would find during their deployment.
"Examples would be a Pacific Reach exercise in Japan. LCU crews (watch teams) are required to conduct simulation training, which introduces everything from local fishing vessels to force protection scenarios while operating in various ports and traffic schemes found in the region. This not only gives the watch team the ability to build cohesion, it allows the Army mariners to familiarize themselves with the terrain."
A key advantage of the training is its economic feasibility.
"Simulation training maintains our mariner's skills and at the same time reduces the cost and manpower needed to get a vessel underway," Turner said. "A bridge team of three to five Army mariners can conduct a few hours of training without involving an entire unit."