FORT BENNING, Ga. (Army News Service, March 15, 2012) -- Staff representatives of America's lawmakers are spending three days with Soldiers at the Joint Maneuver Center of Excellence here to learn about the many aspects of infantry and armor training.

About 53 congressional staffers are at the center of excellence, March 14-16. The staffers will take their experiences back to their senators and congressmen to help better inform the decisions they make regarding the budget decisions that will affect Soldier equipping and training.

The visit "is a special connection that we want to form because we are all dedicated to serving our country," said Brig. Gen. Tom James, commandant, U.S. Army Armor School at Fort Benning.

Javier Sanchez, a legislative assistant who works for Rep. Virginia Foxx (R - NC, 5th District), learned a bit about the 75th Ranger Regiment from Maj. Richard M. Scott, operations manager.
"When you look at the operations tempo, the numbers that they showed us, the Rangers are extremely busy in Afghanistan. They had over 2,000 missions," Sanchez said. "I asked if there was a need to increase the amount of Rangers that we have, and is that even possible, considering that it takes a very unique Soldier just to get to Ranger school and then do the job that Rangers do. It's not the job of every common Soldier."

Sanchez said Scott told him the Army could use more Rangers, and that the service is considering another Ranger battalion. About 1,000 Soldiers would be needed to create such a battalion, and Scott said it's possible to find those Soldiers in the Army without compromising the high standards Rangers should have. Still, he said, it costs about $450,000 to train a staff sergeant to be a Ranger, and providing that training for 1,000 Soldiers costs a lot of money.

Sanchez said the information is something he could definitely take back to his congresswoman.

"The one thing the Constitution tells us to do is that we need to provide for the common defense, and that's something Congresswoman Fox supports," Sanchez said.

Kevin Doran works as the deputy chief of staff for Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland of Georgia's 3rd District.

"Representative Westmoreland wanted me to come down and see this for myself," Doran said. "The Maneuver Center of Excellence is a pretty new facility."

Doran said he's so far been impressed by what he's seen, including new buildings, participating in the Engagement Skills Training 2000, and learning about the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

"I think this really shows that we're preparing our Soldiers for the 21st century warfare, given the fact that everything is moving to virtual reality training," he said. "Given the fact that most of these Soldiers coming in had gotten that growing up, this [type of training] will mesh perfectly with the Soldier of the 21st century."

James summed up the meaning of the 2012 STAFFDEL.

"We train for certainty and we educate for uncertainty," James said. "Our systems, both in the training house and in the school house, allow leaders to adapt to this complex environment that we're operating in now. Being able to articulate that to the staffers so they can articulate to their bosses is, I think, invaluable."