CAC-T celebrates Australian officer's contributions to simulations effort
December 15, 2010
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - As newly promoted Lt. Col. Tom Biedermann and his family return to Australia this week, they're taking with them the appreciation and warm memories of American coworkers and friends.
Since Dec. 2008, Biedermann has been working in the Combined Arms Center-Training's National Simulation Center (NSC). His work in the United States is part of an exchange program between the Australian and U.S. armies. While Biedermann was here, a U.S. simulations representative has been serving in Australia. And as Biedermann leaves, his Australian replacement at the NSC, Maj. Gokhan Yildiz, is just arriving.
"Participating in the exchange program has been an absolute privilege," Biedermann said. He has been impressed that CAC-T and NSC leadership allowed him to contribute to and learn from the U.S. Army's simulations efforts rather than just observing.
He also complimented the way Americans have been keen to learn about the Australian Army, Australian customs and traditions and even Australian terms. During his early days at the NSC, Biedermann would write a different Australian word and definition on the whiteboard each day.
In turn, CAC-T and the NSC have appreciated Biedermann's contributions. During a Dec. 7 ceremony, Brig. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, CAC-T Deputy Commanding General, presented Biedermann with a Meritorious Service Medal to recognize his contributions as the NSC's Australian Exchange Officer. During his two years at Fort Leavenworth, Biedermann worked 18 months with TCM Gaming and the last three with TCM Live Virtual Constructive-Training Environment.
Funk called the ceremony "bittersweet." He commented that CAC-T has appreciated Biedermann's input and the opportunity "to serve with a great nation partner like you" but indicated that his CAC-T friends will be sorry to see Biedermann leave. "It's an honor to present this medal on behalf of our grateful nation," Funk said.
Funk also thanked Biedermann's wife and daughters for working through the family's move to the United States and supporting his work through the officer exchange. "Behind every Solder - no matter what the country - it is the family that matters," he said. "We enlist the Soldier and enlist the family as well. Thank you for your commitment and your sacrifices."
In addition to the award presentation, Biedermann was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel by his wife, Narelle, and Col. Mark McManigal with the Integrated Training Environment Coordinating Staff.
As part of his own remarks during the ceremony, Biedermann talked about his family's expectations of what they would find in the United States. "We expected to come over here and find that Americans would be a different type of Australians - who just talked funny," he said.
The experience turned out to be much more rewarding than they had expected. The family made friends, formed relationships and learned to appreciate "the fighting spirit of the American people," Biedermann said. He also learned to recognize that his NSC coworkers are "passionate people who definitely care about the Soldiers you're training."
Biedermann commented that he came to America as a normal infantryman. He thanked the NSC leadership for helping him "learn what I need to do when I return to Australia to do an unfamiliar job." Upon returning to Australia, he will be Staff Officer for Battle Simulation and Deputy of the Australian Army Simulation Wing. He previously served as a Platoon Leader in Cambodia and a Company Commander in East Timor, also was an instructor for the Australian Army's Combat Officer Advanced Course (equivalent to Maneuver Captain's Career Course) before coming to the NSC last December.
In closing remarks during the award ceremony, Col. Anthony Krogh, NSC Director, complimented Biedermann's contributions to the NSC and the U.S. Army. "I've come to appreciate and respect that he's not only a physical presence in any room but an intellectual presence as well," he said.
Krogh, who has worked with four Australian Army representatives during his career, recognizes the value of officer exchanges with America's allies. "The exchanges make sure that when we stand next to each other on the battlefield, we already know and respect each other - and appreciate what each individual brings to the table," he said.
Based at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the U.S. Army's Combined Arms Center-Training delivers training programs, products and services to leaders and units in support of Army readiness. Wherever Army training occurs, the Combined Arms Center-Training helps make it happen. To learn more about the Combined Arms Center-Training, visit http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cac-t/, www.facebook.com/usacactraining or www.twitter.com/usacactraining.