AUGUSTA, Mich. –
On July 25, Soldiers, whether in a student capacity or permanent personnel assigned to the Regional Training Site-Maintenance (RTS-M), 177th Regiment, Regional Training Institute, were able to hear from U.S. Army Ordnance School leaders on the future of wheeled vehicle mechanics, career progression, and civilian certifications.
Located at the 7,500-acre Michigan National Guard base, the RTS-M runs approximately 24 classes and averages 396 students per year that includes a wheeled vehicle recovery course, which trains Soldiers from active duty, reserve, and National Guard formations.
“It’s important for me to speak with these Soldiers as it allows them to see the direction the ordnance corps is heading,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Decker, 15th ordnance command sergeant major, U.S. Army Ordnance School. “I am making sure the Ordnance Corps is setting up the condition to sustain the force for the future, letting the Soldiers know why we are modernizing the curriculum, meeting civilian certifications, and to better ourselves into 2045.”
As the Ordnance School begins to change curriculum, it also has a goal for Soldiers to receive the benefit of a nationally recognized mechanics certificate—Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
“We are setting the condition for terminology the civilian sector understands,” said Decker. “One thing everyone has in the civilian sector are credentials and certifications and we are aiming for Soldiers to obtain those credentials the civilian workforce understands.”
“We’re going to be very similar and aligned with allowing Soldiers to be very relevant in the civilian sector,” he said.
The Ordnance School has opened up more than 400 certifications and recently stood up 7 tactical wheeled vehicle military certifications which are linked to ASE certification.
“They are reflecting on what the civilian market is looking for, so we’re not just going to learn about wheeled vehicles, but also learn about the theory on how that vehicle works,” said Staff Sgt. Taya Insixiengmay, senior instructor at the RTS-M. “A Soldier can take that information and get a credential that the Army is going to pay for and use it in the civilian sector.”
“Mechanics can have a hard time getting a good-paying civilian career without certifications and this will help Soldiers be more competitive in the civilian workforce,” she said.
Not only is the School addressing national recognition, it is also looking into ways to translate the wheeled vehicle mechanics course to college credits and degrees, which currently can award 37 college credit hours.
“We’re building partnerships with universities to work towards bachelors degrees as well,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Carlos H. Terrones, 12th ordnance chief warrant officer, U.S. Army Ordnance School. “As you finish your professional military education, we’re going to equate that towards college credits to help you get credit for your military education and experience.”
Career progression was also a topic of the discussion as the Ordnance chief warrant officer explains.
“Warrant officers are about 3% of the total force and the Army is seeking qualified applicants who are technically sound who want to join the warrant officer ranks,” said Terrones. “The opportunities are plenty to become a warrant officer and take up greater responsibilities such as technical experts and advisors.”
Overall, the impact of hearing from senior leaders and the change in direction was well-received.
“It was really enlightening to hear from someone who has so much influence over what is going on for the future of the Ordnance Corps,” said Insixiengmay. “One of the biggest issues with Soldiers leaving the Army is what are they going to do and their next steps, and it’s nice to know the Army is helping them prepare for their civilian careers in the future.”