GRAFENWOEHR, Germany ― Under cloudy autumn skies the Joint Multinational Training Command’s Training Support Activity Europe, officially opened a new state-of-the-art Advanced Driver’s Training Complex on the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Oct. 4.
In his remarks prior to the ribbon cutting, U.S. Army Col. Bryan L. Rudacille, JMTC commander outlined the importance of the new complex in reducing casualties downrange and during training.
“From January 2009 through July 2012 we had 618 vehicle rollovers in Afghanistan; it cost us the lives of 23 of our Soldiers and over 500 Soldier injuries – not to mention the amount of dollars that went into replacing vehicles,” said Rudacille. “Now that we’ve got it, we need to make sure people know it’s here so that they can take advantage of it.”
Col. Rudacille and the Training Support System (TSS) Division Chief for TSAE, Mark Mann, officiated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony near the GTA’s Range 126.
The new driver’s training complex is comprised of a series of 11 man-made and natural obstacles spread across a 7.6 kilometer area. Each of the obstacles is specifically designed to challenge and train Soldiers in a variety of U.S. and multinational military vehicles, from the common High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, better known as the Humvee, to the largest U.S. and NATO European model tanks.
“Currently, the complex’s obstacles are spread out through arid and eroding terrains, as well as wet areas that require fording. A series of roads run through urban operations sites, under bridges and overpasses, and along curved byways and detours ideal for concealing IEDs,” said Ed Bogawitch, TSAE range land training coordinator, one of the key partners in the project’s success.
“These obstacles were designed to be adjusted in order to tailor them to a specific set of circumstances or terrain that military drivers may encounter in future missions,” said Robert Claflin, TSAE director. “The concept of the complex is that it can be altered to meet needs not yet encountered. That makes it valuable from a future training perspective and good in the long-term also, financially.
Following the opening speeches and official ribbon cutting, members of the 615th Military Police Company drove a variety of vehicles through the obstacles to demonstrate the features of the newly opened complex.
Sgt. John Roland of the 615th MP Co. and an Afghanistan veteran, navigated his M11-17 Armored Security Vehicle, also known as an ASV, down a slender dirt and gravel road, pocked with deep holes and slashed with three deep trenches, each large enough to stop his progress if he got careless or lead-footed.
Carefully maneuvering the ASV along the road and past the last trench to emerge on the other side of the obstacle, Rowland was visibly pleased and relieved. He said he enjoyed the challenge.
“Having spent time driving through Afghanistan, I can easily see the potential of this place,”Rowland said. “It’s an authentic training environment for drivers – compacted into one place to get it all down, one obstacle at a time – it’s an absolute gift to a driver learning his craft.”
The JMTC is the U.S. Army’s only training command in Europe to provide units with live-fire gunnery, maneuver training, advanced simulations, institutional training schools and support facilities and home-station training support in a single command in Europe. Based among allies and partners JMTC provides U.S. and international Soldiers a chance to train side-by-side year-round.