By David Ruderman, USAG Vicenza Public AffairsJuly 30, 2014
VICENZA, Italy - Soldiers from Charlie Detachment, 106th Financial Management Support Unit, assembled at the Mission Training Center on Caserma Ederle July 17 for a first ever, Europe-wide simulation training of its kind.
The 20 or so financial management Soldiers manned work stations to conduct convoy operations training in coordination with their sister finance detachments and headquarters, located throughout Germany.
"I want to say it was not only never done by finance, I believe no unit has ever utilized the JMTC centers as a combined effort before," said Capt. Andres Leon, detachment commander.
Leon's Soldiers trained on convoy movement and related security issues using highly sophisticated simulation software known as VBS2, or Virtual Battle Space 2. The impetus for the training came from the unit itself, said Richard Courtney, facilitator with Team Tapestry, the firm that prepared the simulation scenarios for the 106th.
He confirmed that this was in fact the first Europe-wide training of its kind.
"This detachment worked with us for a while and one of the officers here actually came up with the idea, but from that point on their command up north in Baumholder started to build with it and that's where most of the planning came from," said Courtney.
"It took months, but there was plenty of time to work on it. There have been some glitches with the system, but other than that they should get some great training," he said.
"The push to do this was to give detachment commanders and FMSU commander, Maj. Scott Francis, a true assessment of his entire unit without him having to be present at each location. It was an opportunity for the entire FMSU -- Headquarters, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie, which are all dispersed around Europe -- to train all at the same time on a live convoy mission exercise and include a financial management support team mission in the training," said Leon.
The 106th FMSU, headquartered in Baumholder, Germany, is a unit of the 16th Sustainment Brigade, which falls under the 21st Theater Support Command. Alpha Detachment is stationed in Grafenwoehr and Bravo Detachment in Kaiserslautern, both in Germany.
"As a commander I have a lot of new Soldiers straight out of AIT (Advanced Individual Training) who have not deployed and have not been a part of a convoy team, a driver or a gunner, so I wanted them to understand that experience: to see their NCOs and leadership positions in action, see the struggles that people face in live convoys and just learn from that or build from that," he said.
Leon said he understood the value of such training from his own experience.
"In the financial management support team mission, they will better understand what goes into play when a finance team downrange goes out to FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) to support Soldiers, what that all entails, because I was a finance Soldier and went to basic and AIT and I never really understood that mission until I saw it firsthand.
"It just makes sense that with the help of the JMTC to accomplish this kind of training that we can build upon it in the future and create a starting point to better enhance our Soldiers' training and make it realistic," he said.
"It was more of an intense version of what we've previously done. It's pretty amazing," said Spc. Immel Moreira, at the conclusion of the first simulation.
"It was a first launch of the multi-detachment, for the whole FMSU. For a training event, it was good initial training in a setting we don't normally encounter," said 2nd Lt. Rachel Kim, the detachment executive officer. "It's a good first step. I think we have a lot to work on in terms of how to conduct these operations outside of that comfort zone."
Leon said the first step was well worth taking.
"You know, doing something new, everything is not going to run great, we understand that, but we hope that we set a standard, a bar for training units and really create something. When you think of ways to cut back on budget and still get effective training with a shorter budget, this is a great experience," he said.