Movement control has been a critical link in sustainment operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other contingencies. However, a standardized model for training movement control teams (MCTs) for deployments does not exist. While the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, are useful training venues for most sustainment units, the small number of daily convoys and the focus on brigade combat team-centric training limit the ability of those training venues to prepare MCTs.
Force Structure Affects Training
The Army has 5 active-duty movement control battalions (MCBs). However, more than 100 MCTs are spread throughout the world and across all components. With this force structure, the most daunting challenge becomes standardizing the training of MCTs. With the limited number of MCBs, MCTs at home station are assigned to combat sustainment support battalions, special troops battalions, and other organizations for administrative and training purposes. The commanders and staffs of those organizations are capable of executing the tactical training for deployment, but MCT technical skills and oversight are not available in most sustainment units.
During its recent deployment to Iraq, the 49th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control) (49th MCB) identified a shortfall in the training of many of its MCTs. Because of the rotation policies in place, MCTs under the battalion's control were constantly transitioning. These units came from locations across the globe and from every component of the Army and Air Force. As a result, the predeployment training these units received was not consistent and their skill sets varied widely.
Automation Training for MCTs
MCTs use the Transportation Coordinators' Automated Information for Movements System II (TC–AIMS II) as the Army's system of record for movement management and movement control. Besides TC–AIMS II, they also use many joint systems of record and web-based systems, such as the Single Mobility System, the Intelligent Road/Rail Information Server, the Integrated Data Environment/Global Transportation Network Convergence, the Radio Frequency–In-Transit Visibility Tracking Portal, and the Worldwide Port System. The ability to operate these systems is critical in assisting movement managers in organizing movements across a theater of operations. Therefore, MCBs must take an active role in ensuring that MCTs are trained to standard on these systems before deploying into any theater of operations.
To address this issue, the 49th MCB developed a training package for units to implement before deploying. The intent was to build a universal skill set for all MCTs, regardless of component or location. The topics covered in this training package can be customized to train an MCT for the specific mission it will execute once deployed. During a period of up to 10 days, the classes found in the chart below can be taught by subject-matter experts from the MCB staff.
Each topic is taught at most installations by either Army troop schools or civilian agencies responsible for deployment and redeployment operations. While these courses are useful, having them focused for an MCT audience as part of a larger course allows for better integration of the concepts for the MCT.
Learning From Units in Place
Teleconferences or video teleconferences with the deployed units that are executing the projected missions bring added focus to the training. They assist leaders in developing the scenarios that will be used during the culminating training exercise before deployment.
The 4-day scenario-based exercise tests the MCT's ability to apply knowledge gained during the formal training to a real-world scenario. In order to make the training more realistic and applicable, the scenario is built around the likely deployed mission set for the training unit. The scenario is designed to test leaders, Soldiers, and the team as a whole on their ability to operate systems, manage workflow and products, and integrate into a functioning team.
Organizing Standardized Training
Because of the distribution of MCTs across the continental United States (CONUS) and the ongoing deployments of MCBs, we propose that the three MCBs based in the continental United States take on the mission of training all MCTs as required. Retaining an ongoing training capability for MCTs is critical to maintaining the technical competence of movement control Soldiers and the MCTs as they progress through the Army Force Generation cycle. As the active-duty MCBs rotate through deployments, the mission to train units can be passed to MCBs remaining at home station. This same model can be applied to the MCBs and MCTs stationed overseas.
This arrangement is beneficial to the MCBs as well. When an MCB receives a nonorganic MCT while deployed, the MCB commander can be assured that the MCB is receiving a unit that is trained and capable of executing whatever mission it is assigned. When possible, deploying MCTs will train with the headquarters under which they will deploy, allowing commanders to build relationships before the task organization is put in place in theater. The process of building and maintaining this training capability will facilitate the training of the MCB staff during home-station training cycles.
By making sure that MCTs receive needed automation training before deployment, partner with the units they will replace in theater, and have a place to go to receive standardized training, the Army can make sure that the MCTs it deploys are ready to enter and support the fight. Standardizing a training model for these units is critical to their success on the ground.