GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- With multiple, multinational units occupying, firing and maneuvering among the Grafenwoehr Training Area ranges, ensuring the safety of Exercise Dynamic Front 18's participants is a full-time job.
"It's safety: we try to get everybody to take it a little more seriously," said Sgt. 1st Class Jermaine Bryant, the safety team chief and operations noncommissioned officer for 7th Army Training Command's GTA.
Bryant explained the three critical areas that determine a range's safety are the officer in charge/range safety officer, medical response abilities and proper ammunition storage. GTA's range operations has a series of checks and balances on all three aspects to confirm the units can conduct their training to standard, safely, and without affecting others on the ranges during the exercise.
Bryant spends his days mainly focused on managing and overseeing ammunition holding areas at GTA, but as this is only one part of the safety considerations that go into GTA range operations' daily supervisory responsibilities, the safety team also devotes time to responding to vehicle incidents, conducting OIC/RSO courses, and reviewing and approving units' proposed safety plans and packets.
These safety plans start months in advance of the exercise and packets must include consideration of and preparation for emergency response, like units' medics being able to maneuver freely through the ranges without being impacted by or affecting others' training.
"We verify (the training units) are in right location to ensure that the surface danger zone still falls within the packet and the plan that we helped them devise," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Anderson, chief of GTA range operations, emphasizing the importance of enabling units to take accountability for their own safety during training.
As conducting the correct safety procedures and methodologies during training is a unit responsibility, units have to send personnel to attend and pass the OIC/RSO certification course at GTA range operations before being allowed to occupy the Dynamic Front ranges. U.S. Soldiers also must have had certificates in range safety and laser range safety before attending the in-person instruction.
Additionally, range operations also conducts day and night patrols for on-the-spot inspections of occupied ranges and ammunition holding areas to help find and correct any safety deficiencies.
In case of an accident, the safety team then conducts an investigation to determine what happened, why it happened and most importantly, how to prevent from happening again.
By combining these protection measures and approaches, range operations' personnel certify those training at GTA are fully armed with safety checklists, standard operating procedures, fresh training and -- with the support of GTA's safety supervision -- are ready to take part in this multi-echelon fires and field artillery exercise to improve NATO and partner-nation interoperability.