FORT LEE, Va. (June 6, 2013) -- Just a few weeks ago, students of the Transportation School's Transportation Management Coordinator Course were participants in the Sustainment Warrior Field Training Exercise, a regularly scheduled, end-of-course training event staged at Fort A.P. Hill. It included 300-400 students from the Quartermaster and Ordnance schools and provided participants with an opportunity to showcase their technical and tactical skills in a field environment.

Except the transportation students weren't able to practice any technical skills during the training.

The low number of transporter students (roughly 30 per training cycle) and large numbers of ordnance and quartermaster students resulted in a schedule that could only accommodate tactical training. That prompted Trans. School instructors and administrators to seek an alternative. The result is a more focused and streamlined training event that takes place at Fort Lee and uses its various training resources.

On May 30, the second class of students was in day three of the four-day newly designed FTX. Students learned about preparing cargo for transport during Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group operations. Instructor Staff Sgt. Clifford Kurten said the new training allows for a more efficient use of time, allowing students to not only understand the concept of air operations but to employ problem-solving skills to accomplish given tasks.

"We gave them a cargo load and gave them the freedom to design the pallets," he said of the training that took place the Training Area 10 Mockup Training Site located just off of B Avenue. "We gave them difficult configurations, some of them that wouldn't work at all. We had them work through those problems and use what they learned in the classroom up to this point, to build those problem-solving skills that we really were not able to focus on during the SWFTX."

The class of 14 students was comprised of a mix of new Soldiers and those transferring from other military occupational specialties. Each were given equal voice in contributing to the team effort to build the pallets, which had to conform to weight and height requirements and other specifications. Kurten said the new format looks promising.

"It worked out great," he said near the conclusion of pallet-building tasks. "It builds their confidence. They take that classroom piece where they kind of understand the concept, and once they're able to work through problems and work through the process, they come to the realization that some of them just won't work. When they go out to their actual units, they'll have that wherewithal that will get them through any problem. At the end of the day they are a lot more confident in their abilities and their technical proficiency."

At least a few of the students agreed that the hands-on approach to training, made possible through the more efficient use of time in the new FTX, makes all the difference in their ability to accomplish tasks

"For me," said Spc. Benjamin Peebles, "I learn more when I make mistakes. Watching someone do it, sometimes you're not paying attention to all of the details. In doing it yourself, you always make mental notes every time you get corrected. When you're doing it, you have that muscle memory to go with what you've been told."

The FTX portion of the TMCC is held in the sixth week of the seven-week course. It is currently in a six-month trial phase and will be evaluated to determine its effectiveness.