Longer Armor Training Increase Skills, Lethality
by U.S. Army Franklin Fisher, Fort Benning PAO
October 21, 2020
When Soldiers just out of Armor training are sent to the Army's tank and scout forces, they'll arrive more fully trained, more lethal with their weapons, and more physically fit, officials in charge of their training say.
The gains in skill, lethality and fitness have come about because the Army lengthened Armor One-Station Unit Training, or Armor OSUT, to 22 weeks, say the officials, who are senior leaders in the 194th Armored Brigade, which produced the video. The longer training span began last fall.
The brigade trains the Army's tank crew members, known by their Army job code of 19 Kilo, and cavalry scouts, coded 19 Delta.
September 2, 2020 - A column of eight-wheeled Stryker combat vehicles move along a road at Fort Benning during training for students enrolled in the Scout Leader Course. The Stryker, along with the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Humvee, is one of the combat vehicles that cavalry scouts may serve with when they complete their training. The training period for both cavalry scouts and Armor crewmen was extended to 22 weeks with the longer span resulting in Soldiers being more proficient, more lethal, and more physically fit than shorter training periods. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Public Affairs)
Armor OSUT for armor crewmen had been 15 weeks long. For cavalry scouts it had been 17 weeks.
"When we look at the different conditions, or I should say considerations, of lethality: mental, physical toughness, vehicle proficiency, and field craft and discipline, we've been able to increase not only the rigor but we've also been able to increase the proficiency, especially on vehicle platforms," Col. Dawson A. Plummer, the brigade's commander, says in the video.
Among training gains that benefit Armor crewmen and cavalry scouts alike, according to the video, are:
- Time to be trained and certified in the Army's Combat Lifesaver Course
- Training and certification in basic hand-to-hand fighting skills known as Level 1 Combatives
- Greater lethality through more extensive weapons training
- Higher physical fitness levels through a greater number of fitness sessions using the Army's rigorous Army Combat Fitness Test, or ACFT.
- More time for learning use of map and compass, known as land navigation
- More field training that hones basic battlefield skills
In addition, for Armor crewmen, the longer OSUT is affording more thorough training in:
- Driving the M1 Abrams tank
- Preventive maintenance of the tank
- Tank gunnery
For cavalry scouts, the extended OSUT also allows for:
- A chance to get familiar with all three of the combat vehicles they might eventually be assigned to work with: the eight-wheeled Stryker combat vehicle, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and Humvee
- Basic preventive maintenance of combat vehicles
- Use of radio
For Armor crewmen, the transition to a longer OSUT means Soldiers are trained beyond mere familiarity, to proficiency, Lt. Col. Nathaniel B. Davis, commander of the brigade's 1st Battalion, 81st Armor Regiment, says in the video.
"The intent behind the transition is to change from where we had been producing Armor crewmen who were familiar as drivers, loaders and gunners, to ones that are competent and proficient as drivers and loaders, familiar as gunners, and ready to contribute at their first unit of assignment," Davis says.
"As we made the transition from 15- to 22-week OSUT, we focused our efforts on a number of key areas: increasing maintenance tasks, increasing gunnery skills training and testing, increasing the amount and rigor of field training, and increasing the amount and rigor of driver training," Davis says.
Driver training has increased "significantly," he says.
"This has resulted in an increase in simulated miles from 62 to 65, but more importantly, in live miles, from 34 live miles –15 of which are in and around the motor pool – to 50 live miles, of which the same 15 are in and around the motor pool," he says.
For cavalry scouts too, the focus is on giving them a solid foundation in skills they'd need in combat, Lt. Col. Ricarlos M. Caldwell, commander, 2nd Squadron, 15th Cavalry Regiment says in the video. The squadron is one of two in the brigade that trains Soldiers to become cavalry scouts. The other is the 5th Squadron, 15th Cavalry Regiment.
"With the increase in global competition and the lethality of our peer and near-peer threats, the intent of the 22-week 19 Delta OSUT is to create a cavalry scout that is lethal, physically fit, proficient in the reconnaissance and security skills, and is prepared to deploy day one upon arrival at their first unit of assignment," says Caldwell.
"The 22-week program has afforded us the opportunity to focus on lethality, field craft, discipline, physical fitness, mental toughness and vehicle proficiency," he says.
Fitness has benefited through an increase in the number of physical readiness training, or PRT, sessions, says Caldwell.
"The additional five weeks in the 22-week OSUT program has allowed us to really drill down on physical fitness training," he says. "Our scouts are now receiving an additional 22 PRT sessions. We've increased the road march mileage from 53 to 83.
"What we're seeing now is our scouts are graduating at a much higher physical fitness level," Caldwell says.
The video was one of several warfighting-related videos available for viewing during the 2020 Virtual Maneuver Warfighter Conference, held online Sept. 9-10 by Fort Benning's U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence.
MCoE trains Soldiers for service with the Armor and Infantry branches, which together make up the Army's maneuver force. It also trains those hoping to become paratroopers, Rangers, snipers, and others seeking to qualify in various military specialties.
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