"Anyone who was here during the Cold War era pictures Grafenwohr as a rustic, spartan training area. But those returning today are finding great facilities for training and family members. They see that this is the premier place to be in U.S. Army, Europe," said BG David G. Perkins, commander of the 7th JMTC.
A restructuring of USAREUR is shifting the bulk of Soldiers in Germany to Grafenwohr, where $300 million is being spent to upgrade existing facilities and create new ones to support a gradual influx of more than 8,000 Soldiers, plus family members.
The migration of units to Grafenwohr takes advantage of 90 square miles of training area between Graf and neighboring Hohenfels. The vast training area allows units to conduct both live-fire and maneuver training, and its location affords Soldiers the opportunity to train with coalition partners.
The main growth in units is the arrival of a Stryker brigade combat team scheduled to be in place by summer's end. Combat-support and combat-service-support units containing engineers, intelligence and artillery Soldiers will join the Stryker BCT in the coming months. The move of the renamed 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment from Fort Lewis, Wash., will be the largest unit move since the end of World War II, JMTC officials said.
"What they're going to find here is a center of gravity of not only forces stationed in USAREUR, but the collocation of premier training facilities. The benefit is that they will live where they train," Perkins said.
To better convey its multinational training capabilities, the JMTC's Combat Maneuver Training Center was renamed the Joint Multinational Readiness Center last December. As the name implies, the JMRC embraces the Army's sister services and U.S. coalition partners as it prepares units for operational missions.
"The Army no longer fights alone, so part of our transformation is to focus on joint forces and coalition operations," said COL Thomas S. Vandal, JMRC's operations group commander.
Soldiers from Italy, Germany, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia and other nations are already training with U.S. forces at JMRC.
Explaining the need to train coalition forces as one team, COL Michael G. Clark, JMTC's chief of staff, described the deployment of JMRC's operations battalion to Kabul to assist with security during last year's election.
"Our guys actually worked for a Romanian battalion--the very battalion they'd recently trained here at Hohenfels. So they knew the people, knew how they worked and understood the communications process," Clark said. "Integration was so much easier because they were already familiar with one another."
Multinational training is such a growing need that JMTC has developed an expeditionary training capability, which allows administrators to take training to other nations. And every Army unit rotating through Grafenwohr now partners with a multinational force.
"We gain a lot from this--from the appreciation of what it takes to operate with other nations downrange, to an understanding of how other nations conduct command and control," said Clark.
Soldiers of foreign nations also attend JMTC's Noncommissioned Officer Academy.
"If you go to Poland and see their NCO training, you'll see the program of instruction is exactly the same as ours, aside from the language. And they're very proud that their training program is modeled after ours," Clark added. [See sidebar.]
"We used to focus our training on tankers, infantrymen, artillerymen and engineers. If you weren't one of those, you weren't coming here," he said. "Today we're training all those, plus combat-support and combat-service-support troops. Every Soldier now needs multiple skills in places like Afghanistan and Iraq."
Battle skills have been honed at Grafenwohr for more than 100 years--first by the Bavarian army, then the German army, and now by U.S. forces and their coalition partners.
"We're traditionally known as having a focus on ranges for tank gunnery. In the future we're going to see more use of the land we have available, particularly with the Stryker BCT," said MAJ Don Mills of JMTC Range Control Operations.
Among the upgrades is a recently completed four-year expansion of Range 118. The range now sports 270 targets and a maximum engagement range of up to 3,500 meters. Once used primarily by aviation units, the range is now versatile enough to be used by any branch, and from platoon to company level.
"Another great thing about Range 118 is that we're able to tie it into Range 117 from the north. This adds even greater depth to the scenarios companies can develop for training. Combined, they offer a really robust series of ranges that are very challenging, with a total of 440 targets," said Mills.
A new range-evaluation system includes the installation of cameras on and inside vehicles, as well as on towers, to give commanders and trainers live feeds of what's happening downrange.
"Soldiers can then sit in an after-action facility and review what they just did. It's a great way for Soldiers to see and learn from their mistakes," Mills said.
Anticipating the unique training needs of the Stryker BCT, the range-operations team converted Range 112--previously a tank-gunnery range --to a sniper field-fire range. The facility includes a sniper tower, personnel movers and an increased distance range.
"Ultimately, we'd like to turn this into a world-class sniper range, and maybe even integrate snipers from other nations into the training," Mills said.
Current plans call for a bayonet-assault course. And neighboring Vilseck Army Airfield also enables the Stryker BCT to practice upload and download procedures, and the integration of airfields into other tactical scenarios.
Western portions of GTA--too rugged and rocky for use in the past--will lend themselves well to the lighter, more agile Stryker vehicles, Mills said.
For all Soldiers training at Hohenfels, JMRC recently completed the new Improvised Explosive Device Training Area, a simulated four-lane highway with exits, an overpass and traffic circle. Urban buildings and live-fire capabilities are in the works.
"We are fully replicating what Soldiers are doing in combat and giving them more iterations at the squad and platoon level in these environments," said MAJ Eric Timmerman, an observer-controller at Hohenfels.
The recent return of live fire to Hohenfels allows Soldiers to sharpen their skills in urban environments, of which there are now eight, with such realistic features as compound walls, subterranean levels and kick-out windows.
Units training at JMTC benefit from the expertise of the range-operations staff, which works closely with commanders to develop the training scenarios they want.
"They do everything from acquainting unit reps with ranges and targetry to custom designing training so it meets units' needs. They're able to take a plan on paper and turn it into reality," Mills said, adding that imagination is the only limit to the types of training units can be offered--provided money and time are available.
"Early on, we knew that units wanted to integrate vehicles into IED scenes. So about three months ago we linked unit reps up with our environmental and safety folks to ensure the incoming units could meet the standards--that fluids, glass and mirrors were removed, and so on," Mills said.
The preplanning was noticed by PV2 David Wamock of the 25th Infantry Division.
"I've been impressed with how much effort has been put into our training, from the mannequins to vehicles concealing IEDs. They've gone to great lengths to make it real for us," he said.
Privates such as Warnock are often units' target audience during JMRC rotations, said MAJ Scott Nelson, a battalion operations officer who worked alongside range-support teams to develop scenarios that would prepare Soldiers who'd never before seen combat.
"Our goal was to create an "Epcot Center" of Iraq or Afghanistan, so Soldiers couldn't differentiate between what was real and what wasn't," said Nelson.
Cranes and scaffolding crowd the landscape at Grafenwohr as construction crews build new facilities that will turn the post into a modern town in upcoming years. Additions will include:
* Europe's largest Army post exchange and commissary:
* A new housing area that when completed will include more than 800 new family housing units, a school, a chapel, a childcare center, a shopette and a gas station:
* Modern single-Soldier barracks;
* New fitness center;
* Leading-edge ranges;
* New motor pools, headquarters facilities and office complexes:
* New roads:
* Expanded medical and dental facility; and
* New hotel.
Newcomers to Grafenwohr can also take advantage of the post's proximity to various European vacation spots. Grafenwohr is three hours from Berlin, three hours from the Alps, an hour from Nurnberg and Regensburg, and two hours from Prague.
For more on what's happening in U.S. Army, Europe, visit www.hqusareur. army.mil.
NCO training at Graf: NCO training at Graf.
THE Warrior Leader Course at Grafenwohr isn't just for U.S. Soldiers. Budding NCOs from coalition forces also get the chance to discover what it takes to be a leader.
"Other nations come to us asking how to form an NCO corps as strong as the Army's," said SGM Antonio Reyes, deputy commander for the 7th Army NCO Academy.
The academy has hosted soldiers from nearly 30 nations. Through the help of interpreters, foreign students learn such skills as counseling and leading patrols. They also get the chance to flex their leadership abilities by taking on squad- and platoon-leader roles.
"We've gone out of our way to make this successful," said SFC Leigh Perry, chief of training.
Many foreign students have returned home to establish their own NCO academies, Perry added. And some of those students are now commandants for their own academies.
The integration of foreign soldiers also benefits U.S. Soldiers, who may eventually find themselves working alongside coalition forces in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. "These are our allies and we've got to build that relationship into our Soldiers. Coalition forces may only have a platoon on the ground, but they're attached to a U.S. element," said Reyes. "When they go out on patrol or do battle operations, it might be an international officer or NCO they're coordinating with. Since we fight as a coalition, we should train as a coalition."
Perry has seen four rotations of Polish soldiers go through the academy, and she said she has seen a transformation.
"The more of them who come here, the more you can see they're adapting to the way we do things. Their NCOs are taking what they learn back and sharing it with fellow soldiers," she said.--Beth Reece
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||Army Joint Multinational Training Command|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2006|
|Previous Article:||The Army in action.|
|Next Article:||Fostering cooperation in Latin America.|