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Story by: Sgt. Brandon LeFlore - 363rd Mobil Public Affairs Detachment
Dated: Tue, Aug 10, 2010
FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- The California sun beamed down on a group of Army National Guard finance Soldiers from New York as they hiked through sand, rocks and brush to find four plotted points on their land navigation course here, Aug. 10. The land navigation course was a little different from a traditional training scenario, with opposing forces and simulated improvised-explosive devices, Soldiers from the 14th Finance Company from New York City moved with skill and agility to accomplish their goal.
“The objective here was to advance tactically through enemy territory using the (Defense Advanced G.P.S. Receiver) systems,” said Sgt. Matthew Feuer,a finance specialist.
The DAGR system is a relatively new satellite G.P.S. It’s more powerful and a quarter of the size of the old Precision lightweight G.P.S. Receiver systems, more commonly known as PLGRs, and allows Soldiers to see terrain maps as opposed to simply grid coordinates.
The 14th Finance Co. doesn’t normally have the opportunity to conduct dismounted land navigation or driver’s training in a desert terrain, but the National Training Center at Fort Irwin offers the proper climate and training resources to train this unit for a future deployment.
“The environment here is drastically different from what we are used to,” said Staff Sgt. Lisa Neely,a Detachment Sgt. “We don’t have the opportunity to do much land navigation training back home, but we were able to actually get out there, plot points and try not to get lost.”
Instead of skyscrapers and paved road, the New York-based finance Soldiers are met with rolling hills and sandy trails which offers them a chance to practice their basic Soldier skills in a desert environment.
“The land navigation course is something we can’t do in the city,” Feuer said. “The National Guard has places to train in upstate N.Y. and N.J., but the biggest difference here is the climate and the terrain.”
This land navigation course is not unlike something the unit would experience while deployed. If for instance, there is a forward infantry unit, the finance company might have to move cash out to that unit through rough terrain, said 1st Lt. Mark Weisenborn, commander of the 14th Finance Co.
The finance company doesn’t routinely have the chance to train in a tactical environment and in addition to conducting land navigation training the unit has also participated in a combat lifesaver’s course, nine-line medical evacuation, convoy operations, radio procedures and driver’s training while at NTC. The National Guard is limited as far as resources go and we don’t have the newest Humvee’s (or) as many resources as the active Army but the unit has been able to adapt, Feuer said .
“Here Soldiers have access to up-armored Humvees and have a chance to drive-off road as opposed to around the block in a place like Queens.”
“There’s no driver’s training noncommissioned officer back at our company so we normally have to seek out other units to conduct driver’s training,” added Neely.
While all the training the unit receives during their annual training here is not necessarily essential to their role as a finance company, it provides an opportunity for the unit members to hone their core competencies in a field environment.
“The training is not necessarily central to our mission because we don’t typically run convoys or plan logistical routes, but in the event that we have to assume control we have to rely on the basic Soldier tasks we’ve been training on here,” Feuer said .
In addition to training tactically, Soldiers from 14th Finance Co. have trained with the finance office here at Fort Irwin.
“Here we have access to a finance office and active duty pay and active duty Soldier’s pay problems. We have exposure to a lot more training resources and hands-on training than we would ever get at home in our armory,” Feuer said .
The finance training offered here is unique in that Soldiers have the resources available to process actual pay inquiries for active duty Soldiers stationed here at Fort Irwin, which is particularly useful for Soldiers who have not deployed yet.
Many of the Soldiers in the 14th Finance Co. have recently finished basic training and (advanced individual training), so they haven’t really seen the system applied to real-world scenarios, but here they have a chance to work with someone who uses it routinely, said Sgt. Desiree Timothy, a Finance Specialist.
“At home ... there is a lot of paper or field manual training making it a little harder to train adequately, but here the Soldiers have access to the systems and get a chance to really get hands-on training,” Timothy added.
With a slew of new Soldiers, training here at NTC will be paramount to the unit’s readiness as they look forward to an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan next year.
“The training here is extraordinary,” said Staff Sgt. Virginia Waldon, Senior Financial Management Specialist, 14th Finance Co. “The Soldiers have a chance to see what they’ll face when they go down range.”