Army boosts distance learning

In an attempt to better prepare soldiers for the battlefield before they even set foot in a classroom, the Army's Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., announced this week that it recently began using a distance-learning system that includes instant feedback and other capabilities that previously were unavailable.

The BCTP selected mGen Inc.'s Enterprise solution to enable soldiers in the Army National Guard brigades to take classes remotely, thereby increasing their warfighting skills prior to arriving at Fort Leavenworth for in-person training seminars, said Maj. Floyd Lucas of Operations Group C at the base.

In the past, some courses that soldiers needed to complete training were not offered "due to time and existing seminar requirements," Lucas said, adding that providing those courses remotely has improved the training and support offered to soldiers.

The system offers 21 core classes, which include 88 individual tailored courses offered through the mGen solution. Each soldier takes courses specifically designed for particular battlefield operating systems. Mentors who specialize in those areas serve as authors to the classes and provide direct assistance to soldiers, said Jack Battersby, president and chief executive officer of mGen.

The classes include general studies, maneuvers, intelligence, fire support, mobility and survivability, air defense, command and control, and combat service support.

Prior to implementing mGen Enterprise, the BCTP provided additional basic staff training via CD-ROM, but that was largely ineffective because of the static nature of the information and an inability to track students' progress. For those reasons, the Army's Command and General Staff College approved the use of mGen Enterprise, as part of the Army's Classroom XXI Training and Doctrine Command program.

Soldiers are now better prepared before attending seminars at Fort Leavenworth, and the system also helps leaders there who can receive "instant feedback on the progress of the soldiers attending the seminar, provide mentorship when a soldier requests it and adjust the training when necessary," Lucas said.

BCTP began to shift classes to the system in February and is upgrading all classes to the new software.

Battersby said that offering courses remotely illustrates how BCTP evaluated its educational needs and then acted based on "what type of training works best in specific instances."

Foxborough, Mass.-based mGen would not disclose financial details of the award.

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