By Staff Sgt. Aaron Hiler, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Kentucky Army National GuardAugust 11, 2009
VILSECK, Germany - Soldiers attending the Combined Arms Training Center's Unit Movement Officer Course, held in Vilseck, put their acquired knowledge to use during a practical exercise which evaluated their ability to properly secure and move military equipment for deployments.
The two-week UMO course combines the administrative details of planning and executing a unit movement, as well as the practical aspects of ensuring equipment is properly loaded for shipment. It begins with classroom instruction and culminates with the movement exercise at the Vilseck rail yard.
"The Unit Movement Officer course is designed to teach Soldiers the proper methods of moving the unit's equipment throughout Europe," said course manager and instructor Willie Brown.
Brown led the students through the procedures for securing a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV ), a M939 5-ton truck, and a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, for rail transportation. Properly securing vehicles and equipment on a rail car ensures that the equipment will not come loose and potentially strike other trains in transit.
"Rail transportation is the largest portion of the course," said Brown, "because it's the primary means of transporting equipment throughout the U.S. Army, Europe theater."
Capt. Jonas Bateman, Unit Movement Coordinator for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, grappled with a steel rope in an attempt to secure a 5-ton truck to a rail car.
"The last time my unit deployed, we didn't have time to send anyone to the UMO course," he said.
"We ended up spending a lot of time on our heels trying to learn things while we were executing the movement," Bateman said. "We're not going to make that mistake again."
"Although rail is the primary means of movement in Europe, we also teach the students how to load and weigh pallets for air movement," Brown said.
While the UMO Course is primarily taught at Vilseck, the course also has Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) that teach the course in locations all over Europe.
"Right now I have two Soldiers in Italy teaching this same course," said Brown, "and next week I have an MTT going to Kosovo."
"It is sometimes better for us to send an MTT to a unit to conduct the training," he said. "This helps the unit maintain a consistency of training, and it is more cost effective for the unit."
For the Soldiers who are able to attend the UMO course offered by the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command at Vilseck, they obtain knowledge that they are able to take back and share with their units.
"The best thing about this course is all of the hands-on training that you get outside the classroom," Bateman said.
"You get to plan your movement in the classroom and then execute that plan outside the classroom. This helps you understand what will be required of your UMOs and load teams," he said, "which will make us more successful as we deploy downrange."