By Angelika Lantz
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 10, 2008 - The distinct cackle of machine-gun fire and the ear-piercing detonation of a simulated car-bomb are not the sounds associated with a U.S. Army base in Germany that hosts a two-star, theater-level command headquarters. But now that a forward operating base training site has been built at Panzer Kaserne, these sounds are much more common here. Soldiers of the 92nd Military Police Company tested the new facility when they conducted a field training exercise Sept. 29 to Oct. 2.
The realistic setting at Panzer provides a great backdrop for training, Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Brenckle, 92nd MP Company operations sergeant, said. The training site resembles an Iraqi village and has multi-story structures for soldiers to practice entering and securing a building. It is also large enough to train them in establishing and defending perimeters.
But the best part for Brenckle was seeing the soldiers in action.
"This is a great opportunity for the soldiers," he said. "I love seeing how they learn and how they grow with each run-through."
Army Sgt. 1st Class Tony Rosado, the company's 1st Platoon sergeant, also praised the facility for adding an element of realism and flexibility that increases the caliber of training and provides soldiers with different scenarios they likely may encounter when they deploy.
"Being out here is a great opportunity and offers quite a few challenges for the soldiers. Training is crucial," Rosado said. "It means soldiers get to practice and learn, and learning means they develop and grow. Being here, training here, really fosters teamwork -- good teamwork within the platoons."
Army 2nd Lt. Michael Barnhart, platoon leader, agreed. "The best training value probably comes from the interactions the soldiers have with one another," he said. "Being out in field for a week is great. We can focus solely on the training. There are no distractions."
The layout is one of the advantages associated with training at the 10-square-acre site. The village features nine buildings, including a mosque, a farm house, two store fronts and an auto repair shop, as well as a marketplace.
The facility can bed about 120 soldiers, and it has a field dining facility, an aid station and a tactical operations center. A 50-by-75-foot combatives pit is filled with 24 inches of Rhine River sand. Guard towers mark the four corners. A close-quarters marksmanship training facility provides for teaching the fundamentals of room clearing.
"We train and learn fundamentals here that can easily be incorporated into larger settings," Barnhart said. "Being here even instills a certain cultural awareness."
(Angelika Lantz works in the 21st Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs Office.)