Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, got a firsthand look at what it takes to operate an Army vessel, and the rigorous training demands of Army mariners as they attend their Individual Entry Training at Fort Eustis, Va.

During his visit, the general spent time with Soldiers of the 7th Sustainment Brigade and the U.S. Army Transportation School Maritime and Intermodal Training Department Jan. 27, where he learned more about the Forces Command mission.

The 7th Sust. Bde. is the only Forces Command unit located on Fort Eustis, and though the mission requirements of FORSCOM differ from those of TRADOC, both commands reap the rewards of having well-trained Army mariners available to meet the nonstop water logistic mission around the world.

"I think it's important we work together with TRADOC and the Army's chief of transportation on allowing these maritime warrant officers, noncommissioned and officers to train on our watercraft," said Col. Steve Cherry, commander of the 7th Sust. Bde. (Provisional). "I also think it is important that one of our senior leaders, General Cone, knows the capability of our water logistic assets so we can retain this capability in the future across the Army and Department of Defense as we continue to support missions in support of U.S. Army South, Southern Command and the Pacific."

Cherry accompanied Cone to 3rd Port for an up-close look at the brigade's vessels. The leaders boarded the Landing Craft Utility-2001, assigned to the 97th Transportation Company, 10th Transportation Battalion, were they received a detailed tour of the vessel explaining how the crewmembers live while on mission. The LCU disembarked the pier and sailed the waters of the port with Cone in place on the vessel's bridge as Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas Laferte, vessel master, described the navigation and communications equipment used to operate the LCU.

"This is a joint effort - the training of our Army mariners," Cherry said. "Our watercraft provides TRADOC the equipment necessary for training. When the vessels are available (for training), the initial entry training received by Soldiers is not only good for TRADOC, but also for the brigade. These IET Soldiers are the Army's future mariners who will continue forward with successfully sustaining the brigade's water-logistic capability."

In closing, Cone took time to talk with Soldiers, asking them about their hometowns, what football teams they followed, and why they joined the Army. Standing inside the galley of the LCU-2001, Cone presented TRADOC coins to brigade and IET mariners as a token of appreciation for their efforts.

"I thank you all for what you do every day," he said. "Our Army is huge and diverse, but we would not be what we are today without your tremendous contributions, and we understand how important your mission is."

The following Soldiers received the TRADOC coin on board the LCU-2001:

Chief Warrant Officer Jason Hayes
Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas Laferte
Chief Warrant Officer Terry Senn
Sgt. 1st Class James Wilson
Staff Sgt. Robert Toms
Spc. Arnaldo Lopez
Spc. De Jesus Efren J. Valentin
Spc. Jason L. West