BAUMHOLDER, Germany -- A moment ago, everything was so quiet you could hear your heartbeat. Now, the sounds of gunfire and yelling fill the air. What looked like an empty structure has four armed insurgents quickly emerging, assault rifles pointing directly at you.
"Put the weapons down!" one of your battle buddies shouts.
They don't. They fire. You're hit. You die. The scenario ends.
"Let's take a look at the replay and see what you could have done differently," the training instructor says.
This was one of several scenarios U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Middle Management Development Program students took part in at the 7th Army Training Command Training Support Center in Baumholder, Jan. 12.
The facility is used by active-duty Soldiers for real-world training in a contained environment. The Engagement Skills Trainer uses realistic simulations and model weapons, requiring participants to make instant life-or-death decisions relying heavily on knowledge, teamwork and communication.
USAG RP Workforce Development Specialist Jacqui Haggerty developed the 12-month MMDP to prepare high-potential Army civilians to execute quality leadership principles and practices, and this was only one of many class exercises that challenge the students.
While it is true that most of the MMDP students will never be placed in situations like these simulations, it was an invaluable exercise with a two-fold purpose, Haggerty explained.
"Within the EST, you are called upon to make split-second decisions that have far-reaching consequences and you must justify each action you take. It also gives the civilian leaders of tomorrow a close-up and personal look at situations our troops experience, making them even better customer service agents for our garrison," Haggerty said.
Kwanza Green, Child and Youth Services administration support assistant and MMDP student, found the training to be helpful towards her decision-making and leadership skills.
"What stood out about the exercise is how different projects, obstacles or trainings bring to light each person's strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, what a person is good at in one situation might falter in another. This is something to keep in mind for myself as I make decisions and about others when attempting to complete a project or when needing to change a group's direction or focus," Green said.
"As a civilian, it gave me yet another level of respect for our men and women who serve. Perhaps none of us truly know until we come face-to-face with a threat how we will react, but our Soldiers have volunteered to take on the challenge as a job," said Green, who provides daily support to Soldiers and their family members.
The exercise also helped show students what type of leaders they are, according to Savannah Carani, Baumholder Java Café manager and MMDP student.
"When we were acting out the scenarios, all of us saw our different leadership styles emerge. We couldn't act simply on what we thought was best -- we had to discuss everything together and decide what fit best in that scenario. It was all about teamwork and making quick decisions," Carani said.
With a lifetime of experience training Army professionals, Haggerty took action when she recognized an opportunity to improve professional development within the garrison workforce.
"There was a very defined flaw in leadership training aimed at those interested in becoming leaders. It was only once you were given leadership status that you could attend these trainings. Often times, by that point, less than stellar leadership qualities and practices have already become habit -- either by watching coworkers or being left to their own devices to 'figure it out.' Our people are our greatest asset -- it was time to start delivering on that ideal," she said.
The MMDP is unique to Rheinland-Pfalz and was recognized by the College of Installation Management as an award-winning Exemplary Workforce Program in 2016.
"The best thing about the MMDP is how the course shows that we all have different management and leadership styles and that one is not better than the other," Carani explained. "The program lets you learn about your strengths and weaknesses and how to find the things you think are weaknesses and turn them into something positive."
Originally designed for non-appropriated fund employees, the MMDP is now in its third year with a class comprised of both appropriated fund and NAF professionals, said Haggerty. The next application period will begin in spring 2018, open to NAF 2-3 and GS 5-9. Interested applicants must be endorsed by their first-line supervisor and their senior rater and have no disciplinary actions pending.
For information about the MMDP, contact Haggerty at 541-0134 or email@example.com.