Hertling commends Fort Rucker on efforts here
February 25, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, Initial Military Training Deputy Commanding General, commended the Fort Rucker team for their important mission of transforming citizens into Soldiers during his visit here Feb. 17-18 to assess Initial Military Training.
Hertling took over IMT, part of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Monroe, Va., last September and oversees the Army's officer, warrant officer and enlisted training processes.
"I'm very impressed at what's going on at Fort Rucker," he said during his tour.
Hertling said the Army is seeing "an increasing demand for Aviation and Aviation support - pilots, crew chiefs, maintainers, facilitators and the ATCs (air traffic controllers). So, what is going on here at Fort Rucker is critically important to meeting that demand the nation has put on us. My compliments to the Rucker team and also to the spouses and Family members (who) support them."
The deputy commanding general conducted physical training with 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment Advanced Individual Training Soldiers, and observed the battalion's Pneudraulics Repairer and Air Traffic Control AIT training. During his time with the unit, Hertling had breakfast and open discussion with the AIT platoon sergeants and later ate lunch with the leaders from 1st Aviation Brigade. He also discussed the Warrant Officer Career College with its leaders during his two-day visit.
After observing Air Traffic Control AIT training Feb. 18, Hertling talked about some of the changes and improvements to IMT.
"We've got to make sure that we're teaching the right things at the right time and passing it on to the operational force to support ARFORGEN (Army Force Generation)," he said.
He added he thinks the Army is trying to "emphasize the skills that are most important and make sure we are hitting the right skills in the various courses we teach. I think because we now have gone through eight years of conflict and we're learning a lot of things about the enemy we're going to face over the next 20, 30 or 40 years, and plus we have a different Soldier we have to train, all those things kind of combine to make us take a hard look at how we are doing the things at the training bases."
Preparing AIT students for their first duty stations is important, Hertling said.
"I think the schoolhouses are doing a great job getting them the skills they need and getting them the capabilities and beginning the values inculcation," he said. "You could almost call them apprentice Soldiers, and it is the first unit of assignment that will make them the journeymen and tradesmen they have to be. If we can get them to the point of where they are contributing and knowing they are going to contribute as a team member as soon as they get there, but (also realizing) they still have a whole lot to learn and a whole lot to grow on, then I think we're doing the job at the training bases we are supposed to do."
Lt. Col. Shawn Prickett, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment commander, said Hertling's guidance to his Soldiers and noncommissioned officers "was simple - train the basic Soldier tasks well and prepare them to be effective on their first day of assignment in an operational unit. He reinforced with us what our NCOs know well, and that is these Soldiers today are adaptive enough to continue contributing and learning throughout their careers as long as we can provide them with the basic foundation, including physical fitness, values and basic MOS (military occupational specialty) tasks, here in their initial military training."
Prickett added that Hertling had an opportunity to see how the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker team pulls together to make the installation "a world-class training base that is focused on providing the operational Army the very best of Army Aviation, and on training the future leaders of our Army. I think he walked away with a good sense for the direction that Army Aviation is headed."
Staff Sgt. Wayne St. John, Air Traffic Control operator course section chief, was one of the NCOs who highlighted AIT training with Hertling.
St. John said the tour presented "us a good opportunity to showcase what we do here, how we accomplish it and how we put Soldiers in the field, and show senior leadership how their directives are being accomplished."
AIT students described Hertling's visit as motivating and inspiring.
Pfc. Colton Gray, 18, from Port Charlotte, Fla., who is training to be an air traffic controller, said the deputy commanding general performed conditioning drills with the students Feb. 18.
"He knew all the drills inside and out and gave us tips to improve our form," Gray said.
Fellow ATC student, Pfc. Meghann Presley, 27, from Houston, said it was nice to have Hertling "come check on our training of (junior) Soldiers as we start our careers."
Pfc. Alex Pagan, 21, from Chicago, echoed his classmates' sentiments.
"It's just nice to see (that) even those who've been in for many years do the same thing (PT) that privates coming in fresh, new are," he said. "We all strive to hopefully one day make it that high in rank, and being able to see someone in that position just gets you more hungry for it."