News: Training center keeps Maine money in state
Story by Sgt. Angela Parady
BANGOR, Maine - Soldiers from Maine and New York are learning how to build a house, from the cement foundation, to the shingles on the roof. Not only are the students being tested, but the instructors themselves are being graded. If the instructors are successful, more classes can be brought to this state of the art facility, bringing more money to the local economy, and keeping Maine Guard soldiers closer to home.
The Regional Training Institute located in Bangor, Maine, was completed in October 2012. It has the ability to house nearly 100 students. Currently, the carpentry and masonry courses which are U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command courses, as well as combat medic classes and combat lifesaver courses are being taught there.
“TRADOC is the higher headquarters for any accredited training school,” said Master Sgt. Anthony Romano, course manager at the school. “In the army there is a lot of horsepower behind TRADOC. The biggest thing is, it takes time. It takes strategic vision to see where the state is going, to see what we are going need. People need to understand our mission, we aren’t a hotel, we aren’t an armory, we aren’t even a state facility, we are a federal facility that’s primary mission is to train soldiers in qualifying schools.”
Spc. Rachel Ellis, unit administrator for the 136th Engineering Company in Skowhegan is attending the carpentry and masonry course because she couldn’t get into the same school elsewhere in order to get her qualified for her new job with the engineers.
The Newport resident is happy learning more about the how-tos of what her coworkers do on a daily basis, and more importantly, the school is close to home. Instead of being away from her family and loved ones, she is able to sleep in her own bed at night and commutes to class. In addition to the skills she is learning, she said she is just amazed at the quality of the building.
“This is a huge new facility” said Ellis. “It’s going to give a lot of people jobs, which we need here in Maine. Not just National Guard people, but cooks, cleaning people, audio visual people. It is going to open doors for the Guardsmen as well, instructors, full-time staff for the building, there are just a lot of opportunities right here. It will also save the Maine National Guard money too, I think. There has to be a lot of benefit to sending soldiers to school here, rather than out of the state, which is what we typically do.”
Getting the school accredited has been a lengthy process. It is no longer just a quick process as TRADOC wants to make sure that soldiers are receiving the highest quality of training possible. There is no difference for active duty, National Guard or Reserve components. It is all one standard.
Romano, who lives in Sanford, said that in order for the school to be accredited they are graded in three categories, conduct training, training support, and proponent functions.
Romano and the rest of the staff at the RTI are hopeful that the course will earn the facility accreditation. It doesn’t matter what course they start with, just so long as they have qualified instructors, a facility to instruct in, and a need for the course.
This course was selected because of the availability of qualified soldiers who have the skill and could become certified instructors. The engineering battalions support the state in a variety of ways, and getting more soldiers qualified to work in this field, helps Maine maintain its capability to respond in domestic and international emergencies, said Romano.
These soldiers have responded to floods, ice storms, hurricanes, every major emergency on the east coast. Not only that, but engineers build things. They help maintain the training sites that all of the units in the state use. They maintain the buildings that they use. That ability to do stuff saves the state money, its crucial to maintaining their skills. They also work on civilian property, helping local towns with parks and schools, he said.
“Accreditation is what brings the Army Training Requirements and Resources System approved schools to the facility, that’s how you get your funding. You have to get your foot in the door with a course. It doesn’t matter what course, just a course. Then you can start getting more courses. With the courses, comes the funding. Funding for instructors, for course material, and that course material is purchased locally so it pumps money back into the Maine economy.”
For Maine, it’s a win- win situation. The state is able to save money on the transportation costs to get soldiers training. We are able to offer better in-state training opportunities, and we can hire soldiers to teach the courses. Not only that, but the effects spread to the local economy, much like having a small military base here, said Romano.
“We become an economic engine,” he said. “The airplanes coming into Bangor have a few more people, a few more seats on planes coming into Bangor, then taxi services, shuttle services, people going out to eat, buying on the local economy. Anytime we can stimulate local economies, it’s good for everyone. “