Soldiers better prepared for unit movement challenges after weeklong course

Soldiers from units across the Virginia National Guard pose for a photo during the Unit Movement Officer Deployment Planners Course held Sept. 24 – 28, 2012, at the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute and various training sites at Fort Pickett. (Contributed photo)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — More than 30 Soldiers from units across the Virginia National Guard are better prepared for the challenges of moving equipment for deployment or training after attending the Unit Movement Officer Deployment Planners Course held Sept. 24 – 28, 2012, at the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute and various training sites at Fort Pickett. The Defense Movement Coordinator’s section of the Virginia Army National Guard Logistics Directorate conducted the course that follows a program of instruction approved by the Chief of Transportation from Fort Lee.

“With Virginia Guard unit deployments slowing down, this course provides us with an opportunity to reset and get back to basics on unit movement planning,” said Maj. Mike Waterman, the officer in charge of the training course. “This was a great opportunity to train new unit movement officers on the systems in place and show them the resources available to deploy their unit in either a CONUS civilian support capacity or OCONUS deployment. The students were enthusiastic and did a great job bringing their real-world deployment experience to the course.”

The course included hands-on training with loading and unloading of rail cars, air planning using 463L air pallets, container operations and use of the KALMAR container handler and military decision making staff processes.

“Our course takes the basic tenants of transportation deployment planning and puts a Virginia National Guard twist on the process,” said Master Sgt. Jeff Billmyer, the state’s senior transportation NCO. “Mobilizing and deploying units has become routine, and our processes are so refined that sometimes the unit movement officer is not exercised like they would be if the scenario involved a major training event or a Hurricane Katrina-like Defense Support to Civil Authorities event.”

Billmyer explained that the course has operation order-type scenarios that makes the students do the necessary backwards planning using artificial time-phased force deployment document data.

“This shows the UMO the reality of movement planning,” he said. “It is not something that magically happens.”