Civilian Leaders See Army Prepare Troops for Combat, Leadership
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany, Sept. 24, 2008 Civilian leaders from throughout the United States got insight today into how the U.S. Army in Europe prepares troops for combat and grooms soldiers in leadership skills.
Participants in the Defense Department’s Joint Civilian Orientation Conference visited the Headquarters Joint Multinational Training Command here at the U.S. European Command’s largest military training center.
Col. Timothy Touzinsky, chief of staff, emphasized the importance of training for U.S. Army Europe’s 45,000 soldiers, about 35 percent of whom are deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo.
“Our focus is on training and preparing units for operations ongoing now, but they also have to be capable of conducting the full spectrum of conflict so they are prepared for future contingencies as well,” Touzinsky said.
The Grafenwoehr Training Area in eastern Bavaria offers the broadest training opportunities within JMTC, enabling soldiers to live-fire every weapon from small arms to Bradley fighting vehicles, M1A2 Abrams tanks and artillery, Touzinsky said.
In addition, specialized training areas and simulation centers bring realism to training to prepare troops for what they are likely to encounter in the combat theater.
While ensuring U.S. soldiers’ combat readiness, headquarters command also trains international partners who operate with U.S. forces. “This is the only place where the Army routinely trains with multinational and coalition partners,” Touzinsky said. He noted that 86 percent of the coalition in Afghanistan and 73 percent of the coalition in Iraq come from the EuCom area of responsibility.
The JCOC group visited the small arms master marksmanship course, where they got to fire the M4 rifle, M203 grenade launcher, M249 squad automatic weapon, and 240B and M2 .50-caliber machine gun.
“It gives me a new respect for the firepower at the disposal of our young men and women,” said Jon Wolfshal, senior fellow for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Later in the day, Sgt. 1st Class Humberto Figuero, non-commissioned officer in charge of the medical simulation training center, described the combat lifesaving training all soldiers receive before they deploy. The training uses realistic mannequins that duplicate human vital signs and medical simulators.
Ensuring all soldiers know how to administer this first-level care is reducing the three leading causes of battlefield deaths -- blood loss, collapsed lungs and obstructed airways – and saving lives, Figuero said.
Staff Sgt. Eric Jackson, an instructor in the Warrior Leader Course here, is proof of the training’s effectiveness. When he took a sniper’s bullet just below his body armor during his second deployment to Ramadi, Iraq, his team leader was the first to provide life-saving aid until the medic could treat him.
“Your medic can’t always get to you right away, so you need to be able to rely on your buddy to be there for you,” he said. “And when I went down, he knew what to do even before I knew I’d been hit.”
Jackson called the training at JMTC critical to providing soldiers the skills they need to lead in combat. “Learning on a combat field is the wrong place to learn,” he said.
“We are injecting all the different kinds of scenarios they could run into so that when they encounter something while they’re deployed, it’s not the first time, or at least it’s similar to something they’ve already experienced,” Jackson said.
“The Army is focused on teaching its soldiers to adapt, so they are ready for whatever they come up against,” he said. “The training we offer here builds up their confidence and gives them the tools they need so they can adapt to any situation.”
Darrel Flanel, managing director for Merill Lynch Global Markets, said seeing the training U.S. Army Europe offers its soldiers dovetails with Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard activities the JCOC group observed earlier this week to show the full spectrum of EuCom operations. “It puts perspective to all the high-tech operations we saw, and what it’s all about supporting,” he said.
Allen Joines, mayor of Winston-Salem, N.C., said the visit to Grafenwoehr reaffirmed the deep appreciation he’s gained this week for the U.S. military.
“I have been extraordinarily impressed with the level of technology being used by our armed forces,” Joines said. “I am even more impressed by the men and women who serve us. They are talented, well educated and committed to service. We should all be proud of them.”
Participants in the JCOC conference are business, civic, academic and community leaders, selected from hundreds of candidates nominated by military commands worldwide.
JCOC was initiated in 1948 by Defense Secretary James V. Forrestal and is the Department's premier civic leader program. This was the 76th conference since its inception.