FORT EUSTIS, Va. — By the end of fiscal 2012, more than 500,000 Soldiers will have completed courses taught by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, instructors.
But a lesser known fact is that TRADOC also provides training and professional military education to more than 33,000 students from other services, 3,000 foreign military students and 31,000 civilians from other Department of Defense and U.S. government agencies.
“The training of non-U.S. Army personnel by TRADOC schools is a vitally important function, which directly enhances the Army’s ability to successfully conduct joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational operations,” said Roger Spadafora, TRADOC’s chief of the Interservice Training Office.
Spadafora said he believes that Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen like the diverse training the Army provides, and that it is a good fit for their requirements.
“Other services like the high-quality training provided by TRADOC schools and courses because doing so reduces their own costs for training development and it frees up the training facilities on their installations,” Spadafora said. “The Army provides more than five times the amount of interservice training than other services — 33,000 Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen compared to 6,000 Soldiers.”
One example of a TRADOC course heavily attended by other services is the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence’s Entry Level Food Service Course at Fort Lee, Va., which trains more than 2,200 Marines, Airmen and Sailors to become food-service professionals.
Pfc. Paull Shin is assigned to the Marine Corps Detachment’s Company A at Fort Lee and is taking the eight-week course.
“There is a lot of camaraderie in this course between the Marines and Soldiers,” Shin said. “I’ve learned a lot from the Army instructors — they really enforce the standards, but they treat everyone the same. The course teaches you the importance of following instructions and directions when preparing your menu, and I was surprised by the amount of work and equipment you need when operating in a field environment.”
Besides developing working relationships among U.S. services, TRADOC schools also help to build familiarity and relationships with international militaries. Each year, more than 3,000 foreign military students from more than 130 different countries attend courses in nearly all of TRADOC’s 20 schools for professional military education, or PME, and skill training. The majority of this training and PME takes place under two security assistance programs — Foreign Military Sales and International Military Education and Training.
Although most foreign military members attending TRADOC schools and courses are junior-grade officers and enlisted, the Army War College’s International Fellows Program is an example of an Army institution that develops strategic-level leaders.
“The International Fellows Program, in my opinion, is the quickest return on investment for the United States in respect to relationship building,” said John Baer, the director of TRADOC’s Security Assistance Training Field Activity. “The Army’s chief of staff sent invitations to 79 countries, inviting them to send their best and brightest emerging leaders to this yearlong program, where they will develop academically and professionally, but just as important, they will develop personal relationships with other future strategic leaders from the U.S. and partner foreign armies.”
Those relationships, according to Baer, can potentially lead to significant operational and strategic dividends.
“I sometimes talk to groups where, because the world can be so complicated and difficult, there is this notion that the United States should just return to a more isolated role,” Baer said. “And my response to those folks is that those days are long gone. Today’s world is so complicated and intertwined and inter-dependant on many different domains — economic, business, cultural and security — it is impossible for the United States to go it alone. We need mutually beneficial partnerships.”
Baer said that SAFTA’s job is to facilitate relationship building by working to find solutions to foreign Army training and professional military education requirements through attendance at TRADOC’s schools and courses.
Each day his team at TRADOC Headquarters works with the international military student officers, or IMSOs, located at each TRADOC Center of Excellence.
Russ Mott, the chief IMSO at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, coordinates with Baer’s team to place international military students in Infantry and Armor Schools and courses.
During fiscal 2011, Army instructors taught more than 800 international military students in 26 different courses at the MCoE.
Maj. Philipp Schoch is an Armor School instructor and deputy commander for a tank battalion in the Swiss army, and is currently at Fort Benning, Ga., taking the MCoE’s Captains Career Course.
Schoch just finished the four-week pre-course that international students take to better prepare them before starting the CCC. The pre-course focuses on speaking in English, learning how to brief using U.S. Army terms and becoming familiar with U.S. Army doctrine.
Now that he has started the CCC, Schoch is impressed with his experience so far.
“I had a very good first impression with the course and my small group instructor,” Schoch said. “My instructor is tough and is well prepared. He focuses on things we need to be good company commanders and how to handle different situations besides just warfighting — like leading and dealing with Soldiers.”
Schoch said he believes the daily interactions and exposure to Soldiers from different countries provides lessons to both the international students and the U.S. instructors.
“The great thing I’ve noticed about the [captains career] course is that the instructors regularly ask me how we do things in Switzerland, and they ask other international students about how they handle situations in their armies, and a lot can be learned because the quality of the international students is very high,” Schoch said. “We have officers from Pakistan and Norway who are some of the best in their armies.”
Schoch and his fellow international students who graduate the course will be awarded the Foreign Military Badge, which — according to the MCoE’s website — has been presented to international military students for more than 60 years and is worn by many senior leaders in their countries today.