Story by Annette Fournier/ The Bayonet
FORT BENNING, Ga. (TRADOC News Service, September 25, 2006) - As part of the ongoing Army transformation, senior Armor and Infantry NCOs began training together Sept. 5 in the first combined ANCOC. Two of the combined classes began simultaneously, with one class at Fort Benning and the other at the Armor School at Fort Knox, Ky.
ANCOC was redesigned as combined training so senior NCOs in combat arms would have a better understanding of each other's tactics, capabilities and equipment, said 1st Sgt. Sherman Roberts, Fort Benning's ANCOC first sergeant.
In the Army's restructured brigade combat teams, Soldiers of many MOSs work side by side in combat, said Michael Quirion, NCO Academy's chief operations officer. The new training will help NCOs to make better use of the equipment and Soldiers available, because they'll understand their abilities.
"The Armor and the Infantry deploy together and work together all the time, but they know very little about each other," Roberts said. "Combining the courses will enable us to train as we fight."
The courses are also being combined in preparation for the Armor School coming to Fort Benning to form the Maneuver Center.
The decision came from discussions between Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, Fort Benning's commanding general, and Maj. Gen. Robert Williams, Fort Knox's commanding general, Quirion said.
The first word that the courses might be combined was in late 2005, and by January the Armor and Infantry NCO Academies were tasked with combining the old ANCOC and updating old content to create the joint course.
Much of the course content of the Armor and Infantry ANCOC were similar, but it was easier said than done, Quirion said.
"It's really a challenge, because doctrine and manuals have to be re-written, but Infantry and Armor have the same goals, just different ways of accomplishing that goal," Quirion said. "We're focusing on the common ground then adding some MOS-specific information."
The first five weeks of the seven-week course, all the NCOs study together. In the class, doctrine taught by an instructor but there's lots of discussion from students so they can learn from each other. The majority of the students are combat veterans, and the instructors encourage discussion, because the students' experiences are valuable teaching tools, Roberts said. Scouts, tankers, mortarmen and Infantrymen all have specialized skills, equipment and terminology, which the students will also study, so the information is common knowledge by the end of the course.
"I'm interested to see at the end what they learned from their brothers in arms," Roberts said.
During the sixth week, students are divided to learn certain MOS-specific skills, and the final week the students join together for a simulated training exercise.
Because Fort Benning currently lacks the equipment to launch an STX complete with tanks, the practical exercise will be in the close combat tactical trainer.
Each week of the course, the instructors from the Fort Benning and Fort Knox classes meet via video tele conference to discuss the week's progress.
"This is a coordinated effort all the way. Infantry doesn't have the lead and Armor doesn't have the lead on the new course," Roberts said. "And it's not just putting the two old courses together."
The new course adds content relevant to today's battlefield and focuses on building skills that each MOS may not have had a lot of practice with.
For Armor, new content includes combatives practice, Infantry gets practice in mounted land navigation. Other new content includes counterinsurgency operations, intelligence preparation of the battlefield and information operations.
"Before Infantry didn't know what Armor was doing and Armor didn't know what Infantry was doing," Roberts said. "This course is breaking ground."