New unit university contributes to Warfighter readiness
July 21, 2011
Brigade Combat Teams, as well as Divisional G6/S6 and G3/S3 shops, are often forced to make difficult decisions when it comes to scheduling and funding Program Manager or U.S. Army Forces Command mobile training to ensure enough of the right Soldiers get trained.
To assist Warfighters, CECOM Logistics Readiness Center Directorate of Readiness Training Support Division developed the “Faces to the Field” Unit University Program to provide a sustained, flexible, on-demand training program. Through the Unit University system, units can effectively schedule additional C4ISR training around the unit’s ARFORGEN Cycle thus meeting both long and short term training requirements. In addition to providing a flexible training schedule, the University Program guarantees the highest quality of training by ensuring each course is developed and trained by a true
subject matter expert with standardized lesson plans that integrate Program Manager,
Training and Doctrine Command and FORSCOM curriculum.
The Unit University Program falls under DRE’s newly formed Training Support Division and has grown exponentially since its introduction two years ago. The Training Support Division, previously the Information Technology-Field Service Branch, was established
in 2010 after five years of commitment to developing training based on Soldier and systems fielding feed-back. The Unit University Program prides itself on the same philosophy. The design and intent of the University Program is to provide a direct response to the unique training requirements of supported units while still facilitating the
high standard of quality CECOM training and logistical support.
“This has resulted in our ability to quickly deploy and have the training necessary to extend and conduct Network Operations of the LandWarNet in support of combatant commanders and forward deployed headquarters at all echelons within the full spectrum of military operations,” said Lt. Col. Eulys Shell, military liaison, 11th Signal Brigade Thunderbird University located at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
The University structure is dictated by the supported unit but usually consists of a training coordinator and three instructors, each representing the three vital areas of Army Networks: Software, Networking and Signal. The training coordinator works directly with local units to establish training requirements and a schedule as well as CECOM, PM and FORSCOM mobile training teams to manage outside support, develop sustained training capabilities, and ensure training is tracked in the Army Training Requirements and Resource System.
The on-site instructors conduct training and develop lesson plans that are specific to each unit’s requirements to include emerging technologies that are not yet implemented in TRADOC courses. For instance, if a unit needs a highly specialized SharePoint 2010 or a Tactical Radio course on a newly deployed radio, such as the AN/PRC-117G, then the on-site instructor will create the course and present the training on demand, while also sharing the knowledge with CECOM instructors located at other Universities.
“The CECOM staff is highly professional and highly flexible in meeting our short-notice requirements to support operational missions and Brigade priorities,” said Shell. “Truly outstanding performance in delivering the right training at the right time to empower our Soldiers with the technical skillsets required in today's operational environments.”
Capt. Carol Smith, military liaison, 162nd Infantry Brigade Tactical Training Team said, “The biggest benefit to us is having experienced and knowledgeable instructors available. Many of the instructors are retired signal Soldiers with combat experience that
can relate to our students and are often able to use examples from their lives to help show the importance of everyone learning the equipment.”
Since the universities are a part of the larger Materiel Enterprise C4ISR Team, the training coordinator at each University has the ability to use outside resources to conduct training on the newest deployed technology that may be outside the scope of the local staff’s current knowledge base. They also have the ability to increase the training staff to accommodate a heavy training schedule. By virtually creating a limitless training schedule for each supported unit, the university program ensures more warfighters are properly trained for deployment.
Maj. Craig Benke, the military liaison for CECOM’s C4I Training Facility in support of 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan., said, “C4I Skills Training Team was crucial in preparing multiple Battalions in our Brigade for their deployments. Not only were they able to put together top-notch training in a rapidly decreasing window of time, but also supplied equipment and training for communication requirements that were outside our unit’s normal mission set.”
So far this type of customized training has proven to be successful at the five current TSD unit universities located at Fort Campbell, Ky., (101st Airborne Division’s Screaming Eagle Network University); Fort Riley, Kan., (1st Infantry Division’s C4 Training Facility); Fort Carson, Colo., (4th Infantry Division’s Ironhorse University); Fort Huachuca, Ariz., (11th Signal Brigade’s Thunderbird University); and Fort Polk, La., (162nd Infantry Brigade’s Tactical Training Team). The success of the program has prompted discussions to open additional unit universities at Fort Drum, N.Y., Fort
Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Lewis, Wash., and Fort Polk, La.
The key to TSD’s success with the University Program is working side-by-side with each unit to develop operating procedures and training focus that is specific to its requirements. This partnership between the unit and CECOM DRE began with a one year trial period.
And now"every supported unit has extended its operating agreement with CECOM DRE for three years. The main reason…Soldiers access to quality training.
To date, the program has put up some impressive numbers including the Screaming Eagle Network University that conducted 102 courses, trained 1094 Soldiers and awarded 104 various certifications while the C4I Training Facility conducted 50 courses and trained 481 Soldiers in their first year under CECOM DRE. Fourth Infantry Division’s Ironhorse University conducted 25 weeks of training in its first quarter of operations. The benefits and capabilities of the unit university programs are limitless.
Initially, the universities have focused most of its training on the most common and widely used systems including tactical radio systems, Blue Force Tracker and will soon have full capabilities on the AN/PRC-117G. Systems training included WIN-T/JNN/CPN,
Promina, or Global Broadcast Systems, and the newest Microsoft Software such as Office, SharePoint, Server and Active Directory.
Certification training included CompTIA, Cisco, CISSP and TFOCA Fiber 3M/ETA, to name a few. However, new courses will be developed depending on the needs of the participating units.
Each university has the capability to train Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians on CompTIA & Cisco Certifications. The university program has assisted each supported unit with their goal of 100 percent compliance of Department of Defense Directive 8570.01, which requires IMO’s to receive a certain certification level.
The university’s certification capabilities also allow units to reward their Soldiers by scheduling them for a civilian certification courses such as Cisco Certified Network Associate. The universities have had great success with these programs reaching an average 85 percent pass rates on all certification courses. This success is due to on-site instructors being able to spend more time working with Soldiers on their certifications.
Each university is also equipped with a commercial testing center so Soldiers can test immediately after the training and not worry about scheduling a test off-post.
“(Training) included multiple Security+ classes in an effort to ensure not only our brigade, but 1st Infantry Division as a whole, was trained and properly compliant with FORSCOM guidance regarding Information Assurance requirements,” said Benke.
“It would have been impossible for our brigade to resource this dynamically different training internally.”
As the nature of warfare moves from kinetic to information and technological, so too do the innovative methods by which CECOM and its various agencies continue to adjust with the same goal in mind"taking care of the warfighter.