By Ms Joyce Conant, ARLJanuary 9, 2013
For the past few years, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has held courses designed for civilians throughout the organization to learn about and experience the daily activities of its Soldiers. The most recent class was held from Dec. 3-7 at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), with some activities conducted at the Edgewood Area.
Most of the participants were from the Adelphi Laboratory Center, located in Adelphi, Md., and APG, but some traveled from as far away as Florida and North Carolina to attend the course.
On day one of the training course, participants received an introduction to ARL and the greening course agenda for the next five days, which included learning the NCO [non commissioned officer] Creed, Soldiers Creed and the Army song. They also learned about Army values, how the military and civilian structure is at ARL and how the Army is organized. Later that day, they got to experience the Human Research and Engineering Directorate's (HRED) weapon simulator. Participants had the option of wearing the ThreatFire" Belt, which provides a small shock when the participant misses its target in the simulator.
Accountability formation was held each morning between 5:30 and 6 a.m. Throughout the next few days, participants received combative training, room clearing, physical training tests, marksmanship instruction, learned how to assemble and disassemble an M16, M4 and M9 rifle and had the opportunity to drive various tank and track vehicles at the Aberdeen Test Center.
"On a scale of one to 10, driving full speed in an Abrams tank was an 11!" said Alan Kalb, senior patent counsel.
On the last day of the course, participants met one final time for physical fitness training and a foot march prior to attending a formal graduation ceremony.
"The greening course was a unique opportunity that allowed me to learn how the U.S. Army is internally structured, how Soldiers interact with one another on a daily basis and how Soldiers view the roles of scientists and engineers at ARL," said Dr. Ryan Toonen from the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate.
Others in the course echoed Toonen's sentiments about their interactions with the Soldiers.
"The activities we participated in were fun and instructive, but I learned the most about what it's like to be a Soldier in the downtime. Conversations with the Soldiers gave me a very real understanding of the challenges they face and how we can do better in ARL to serve their needs," said John Gerdes from the Vehicle Technology Directorate.
Each greening course varies with the activities that the participants engage in.
"This course was the first one in which we witness a tank/track vehicle come up a 45 to 60 degree slope," said Sgt. Maj. Christopher Harris. "Also, this is the first one where we had a female military officer share her experiences as Soldier."
Harris said that the Soldiers at ARL want to do everything possible to make this one of your best experiences. He indicated that they continue to enhance each course after reading the after action reviews and he and his Soldiers are committed to making the future courses "world class."
"Come out of your shell and get to know the men and women you work so hard to support," encourages Harris. "We thank you all for making a difference."
The next greening course is scheduled to be conducted around the May/June time period, unless directed otherwise by the director.
"You are encouraged to sign up -- we will let you know well in advance," concluded Harris.