By Denver Makle, Joint Multinational Training CommandMarch 9, 2009
The Training Aids Production Center (TAPC) at Grafenwoehr has opened its doors, after its move from the Frankfurt, and years of planning. It's a building like no other on the Grafenwoehr Training Area (GTA) . It smells like the average Home Depot or Lowe's back in the States. There's the fragrance of sawdust in the big open bays where the technicians work.
The plastic targets Soldiers use on the ranges for zeroing and firing qualifications are products that can be easily reproduced by the professionals that deal in plastics, aluminum, and wood.
The equipment is in place. The all-local national staff has been hired. There is only one American in the whole organization. It's been a challenge, but the TAPC is ready for business.
Formerly known as the General Support Center, the TAPC was located in Roedelheim, Germany about 15 minutes from Frankfurt am Main. As part of the Joint Multinational Training Commands's (JMTC) Training Support Activity Europe (TSAE), the TAPC services training requests from seven countries and 18 cities, throughout Europe. Technicians build training enablers for Soldiers preparing for deployments or special unit training. Training NCO's and officers can request products be custom-built.
"Geographically, the Training Support Activity Europe (TSAE) provides support throughout the USAREUR area of responsibility, the new Grafenwoehr location is centrally located allowing TSAE to optimize its support," said R. C. Claflin, chief of Training Support Activity Europe. "Along those same lines there's an added benefit to being physically located at GTA, which will enable the production center to best meet our home-station and deployed training support and visual information requirements."
It was difficult when the Center was located in Roedelheim, Claflin said. "The TAPC is a training support multiplier. "It enables training tools that aren't in the Army inventory to be built in a timely manner, so Soldiers can get the most realistic and relevant training possible - a critical capability if we are to keep up with lessons learned from down range."
One unit needed a life-size Stryker vehicle - that mock-up now resides in the middle of the Joint Multinational Simulations Center. Another unit in Italy needed a full-scale helicopter - that training tool is currently under production.
"Everything we produce is custom made. It doesn't matter how big or small the object," John Krollpfeiffer, the TAPC production chief. "In the end, the Soldiers using our tools don't know where it comes from, or who made it. They simply focus on whether or not it works, and is realistic."
The JMTC trains Servicemen and women from the United States military and allied nations using a suite of training tools; live, virtual and constructive, which are tailored to meet the needs of today's joint operations. These training tools are designed to be sent anywhere, anytime. The TAPC is Europe's sole provider of custom and non-traditional training aids.
"Two-and-3-D models, Stryker and HMMWV vehicles, mine and grenade replicas are a few of the items produced at TAPC," said John Krollpfeiffer, the TAPC production chief. "No matter what we do; a box, a plastic weapon, a 3-D relief map, or printed poster - we are in business to help educate the soldier."
It's not the local Home Depot or Lowes. The unit doesn't have to build the training tool themselves. The TAPC specializes in the design, production, and fabrication of non-standard (custom) training aids, models, displays, posters, exhibits, visual information services, or any other items that cannot be acquired from the Training Support Centers (TSCs) within United States Army Europe (USAREUR).
Units that wish to request TAPC services can contact any TSAE TSC in Europe by calling their local DSN + 1398.