FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – The electricity needed to power up a light switch or charge a laptop does not magically happen. People must maintain and repair the equipment to keep these services going, and in the Army Reserve, this responsibility falls to tactical power generation specialists.
Although these specialists work to supply the power to run virtually every aspect of Army activity, the knowledge must be taught, and the instructors at the Regional Training Site - Maintenance Fort Indiantown Gap (RTS-M FIG), Pennsylvania, are the ones taking on this effort.
“As an Army leader, instructing and facilitating is just part of what I do. Many facets make a good NCO,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Minter, the lead instructor for the RTS-M FIG course. “Every NCO should be looking for opportunities, such as instructors, to challenge themselves and broaden their understanding of what the business of the Army really is.”
The tactical power generation specialist course consisted of active duty, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers completing two phases, October 5 - November 6, 2020.
“The hardest thing for students to learn as a tactical power generation specialist are the principles of electricity,” Minter added. “Some of the scientific terms and references are hard to grasp at first, but when effectively explained, it can be learned and applied.”
RTS-M FIG falls under the 3rd Brigade (Ordnance), 94th Training Division (Force Sustainment). The instructors of the 94th TD-FS provide Soldier training in a multitude of military occupational specialties to noncommissioned and commissioned officers.
The 94th TD-FS instructors are also a critical force that facilitates and conducts educational and functional training in direct support of the United States Army Reserve and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) missions and objectives.
“This is an essential job for the military,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph M. Haines III, an active duty Soldier who attended the RTS-M FIG course. “Power has to be able to run for an exercise to be a success.”
“These days especially, almost everything we do has to have some kind of electricity. Whether it’s the tactical operations center providing power to run the computers or Soldiers at the aid station needing their equipment to diagnose patients,” he added.
In addition to performing and maintain the power-generated equipment, tactical power generation specialists train to use high-tech test and diagnostic equipment, read complex wiring schematics and diagrams, and repair electrical components.
Sgt. 1st Class Miguel A. Ortiz Ortiz, one of the tactical power generation specialist course instructor, incorporates his expertise from his days while serving at a transportation company in Puerto Rico.
“When Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017, our battalion became the main distributor for food and water to the people,” said Ortiz Ortiz, a Barranquitas, Puerto Rico native. “We had to use all of our generator equipment to sustain ourselves because we didn’t have power nor cellphone signal.”
“Generators were a vital component of that operation, and the motor sergeants within our battalion, myself included, became subject matter experts on tactical generator operations and maintenance, especially since we had to run our maintenance shops, communications equipment, and everything else off of them.”
Another student of the class agrees that the experience the instructors bring to the course helps with understanding the concepts of the military specialty.
The easiest part of this course for me was going over basic engine components; I was already very familiar with most engines,” said Spc. Christopher Gagne, a National Guardsman attending the RTS-M FIG course. “The hardest part for me was having to take everything I had learned and toss it out the window because TRADOC teaches it their way.”
“What I liked most about this course was being in the classroom and listening to the instructors,” he added. “They were able to break the information down very easily for everyone, so they could understand what was being taught and how they could relate it to something else.”
The tactical power generation course is one of many classes that RTS-M FIG offers. The 94th TD-FS instructors take pride in sharing their expertise with the new generation of combat-ready Soldiers.
“The Army has taken me many places and has put me in so many different scenarios that have taught me a lot, molded the mechanic, Soldier, and leader I am today,” said Ortiz Ortiz. “I wanted to have the opportunity to share that knowledge and experience with the future generations of Soldiers.”
“If you have the knowledge to be considered a subject matter expert in your field and have the ability to share that knowledge correctly and efficiently, you should not deprive others of receiving that knowledge,” he added.