58th Transportation training undergoes change Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 April 2011
Cell team instructors for 23T, A Company, 58th Transportation Battalion, explain and demonstrate truck-to-trailer exercises, which teaches Soldiers a vital skill of their military occupational specialty — how to download flat racks onto a trailer.
Story and photo by Amy Newcomb
GUIDON staff

The 58th Transportation Battalion is participating in a pilot program. Smart training, which was designated by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, is geared to focus more on technology, in order to keep the interest of the nation’s Generation Y Soldiers.

Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Richards, Motor Transport Operator Course chief instructor, said Smart training is a concept that helps develop trainees’ natural leadership skill sets earlier, increase and maintain retained knowledge and increase Soldiers’ ability to think critically, and make sound decisions.

“The older generation focused on one task; we did that task, and we moved on. With today’s generation, they are more of a multi-tasker,” Richards said. “For example, if you look at kids in high school, they can talk on a cell phone, text, be on a computer, listen to radio and do homework at the same time.”
The pilot program offers an updated Program Of Instruction for the military occupational specialty 88m Soldiers-in-training, which will eventually filter over to all Soldiers-in-training, regardless of their MOS.

Under the new POI, Soldiers will no longer travel the same set curriculum path as before, but they will still be using the same tools to train with.

Richards compared the change to a deck of cards, “You have the ace of spades, king, queen, jack – all the way on down. The training is the same – all we are doing is taking that deck and shuffling it up; moving the training around.”

Previously, the training schedule looked something like this: First week, Soldiers train on general knowledge; Second and third week, Soldiers train on 5-ton general knowledge and convoy operations; Fourth week, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck Load Handling System training; Fifth week, M9-15 Series Heavy Truck; Sixth week, Soldiers completed tactical operations, consisting of a field training exercise with a convoy live fire; Seventh and final week, graduation.

Under the pilot program the training schedule looks like this: First week training on general knowledge; Second and third week are ground operations for all three vehicles 58th Trans. Bn. Soldiers train on, which consists of learning preventive maintenance checks, basic controls and basic ground operations; Fourth and fifth week is convoy operations where Soldiers utilize all three vehicles in a convoy environment; Sixth week will remain tactical operations week, but there will no longer be a convoy live fire. The live fire exercise has been replaced with the Reconfigurable Vehicle Tactical Trainer, which simulates Soldiers on a convoy in a tactical situation. The last week will remain dedicated to graduation.

Another new feature introduced by the pilot program that was developed from Smart training, is called peer-to-peer instructors. Soldiers, who are able to test out of a certain portion of training, because they learn more quickly, will be able to help instructors teach other Soldiers who need more time to learn certain aspects of training.   

“Once a Soldier gets a “GO” on a particular test … they become a peer instructor,” Richards said. “So, they will help Soldiers who are having problems with it. What this does is give the instructor more flexibility, and it helps the Soldiers in getting better quality training.”

Soldiers from 23T, Company A, have already begun instruction under the new pilot program. Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Thompson, Sgt. 1st Class Terrence Woodard and Staff Sgt. Lina Alvarez are co-platoon sergeants for 23T, and although the new training is still in the early phases, they agree there are benefits.

    Woodard said he believes that by introducing peer-to-peer training, Soldiers will feel more comfortable and be more receptive to learning. Often times, Soldiers become nervous around instructors and fail to pay attention or ask questions.

“I see the peer-to-peer instruction as a benefit because sometimes they learn from their peers better than they do their instructors,” Woodard said.

Furthermore, classes that are training require at least one platoon sergeant on the ground with them at all times. Thompson said, by having one of them with the Soldiers during training, helps them make sure Soldiers are maximizing their time in a learning environment.

“There are times when Soldiers are out there waiting for their turn to get behind the wheel. They will be sitting around, which is when we step in and conduct some kind of concurrent training to fill that time, and keep their minds occupied so they don’t get distracted,” Thompson said.

    Another benefit for platoon sergeants accompanying Soldiers during training is they are always aware of situations that may arise concerning their class.

    “It gives Soldiers the opportunity to let us know if there is a situation that’s going on with them, so we can start working the issue then instead of them waiting until they return to the barracks from training,” Alvarez said. “It’s a heads up on something that won’t have to wait until that night or the next day.”
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 April 2011 )