Army National Guard Armor Schools

by LTC Frederick P. Gilson
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While most people associate the training of scouts and tankers with the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, GA, fewer are familiar with the Armor trainers in the Army National Guard. There are seven Armor schools across the country that provide military-occupation specialty, Noncommissioned Officer Education System and functional courses for 19-series Career Management Field Soldiers in the ARNG.

In early 2012, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command published its One-Army School System implementation plan, which outlines the need to provide commanders and Soldiers maximum training and education opportunities across all Army schools and institutions, regardless of component. This action formalized the process for Active Army Soldiers to attend ARNG schools.

OASS requirements

For a school to be OASS compliant, TRADOC directed that all courseware be Total Army Training System compliant, meaning that courses must be single-phased or able to be executed in consecutive phases at the same institution, equipment variants must be the same and, regardless of component, all Soldiers can attend. This directive effectively provided ARNG and Active Army commanders with an alternate way to train their Soldiers quickly and efficiently at several sites throughout the continental United States.

In an effort to meet OASS requirements, 19D MOS training was refined, with the help of the Directorate of Training Development, 194th Armor Brigade and 316th Cavalry Brigade at the MCoE. This ensures training for all scouts on the A3/Operation Desert Storm situational-awareness Bradley, M1151 humvee, Long-Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System and all associated weapon systems within a 20-day program of instruction. Likewise, the 19K MOS-T was refined and split into two 20-day courses to facilitate training both M1A1 SA and M1A2 Systems Enhancement Program V2 crewmembers.

To round out NCOES requirements, the Armor Advance Leaders Course and Maneuver Senior Leader Course are available. The ARNG Armor schools also offer intensive functional courses such as Tank Commander’s Certification Course and the Scout Commander’s Certification Course designed to reintroduce officers and NCOs to the weapon systems after several years of deployments without tanks and Bradleys.

Finally, the ARNG’s Warrior Training Center offers courses for prospective tank and Bradley master gunners to help hone their skills prior to attending Abrams and Bradley MG courses at the MCoE.

Regional training institutes

The ARNG Armor schools are separate training battalions or companies operating under regional training institutes. These RTIs are located in Idaho, Minnesota, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Texas. Certified instructors and, in many cases, MGs with years of experience make up the staff for the RTIs.

All the schools that teach 19Ds are fielded with, or are in the process of fielding, equipment such as ODS-SA and/or A3 Bradleys. Idaho and Mississippi train 19D, but are the only two ARNG schools that also train 19K using M1A1 SA and/or M1A2 SEP V2 with the commander’s remote-operated weapon station. The ARNG Armor schools also have access to great instructional classrooms and range facilities to accommodate all necessary live-fire requirements, including both tactical and gunnery simulation.

Each ARNG Armor school must conform to and be evaluated by the same TRADOC enterprise-accreditation standards as the MCoE. This extensive review covers 29 areas, including quality assurance, maintenance, supply, facilities, operational-environment integration, lessons-learned and implementation of the Army Learning Model. All ARNG Armor schools are accredited, and five are evaluated as institutions of excellence with a score of 95 percent or higher.

The ARNG Armor schools maintain a close relationship with the MCoE and are included in courseware development, input to both the 19D and 19K critical-task lists and other issues pertinent to maintaining consistency and relevancy in the Armor community. Driven by the potential for a third combined-arms battalion in the armored brigade combat teams and the need to return to the basics of gunnery/maneuver while operating in an environment of constrained resources, the ARNG Armor schools offer great opportunities for training 19 CMF Soldiers.


LTC Frederick Gilson commands 1st Battalion, 204th RTI (Armor) and is the ARNG Armor subject-matter expert based at Gowen Field, Idaho. During his career, he has served in various Armor and Cavalry command and staff positions, including active service with 4-64 Armor, 1-10 Cavalry and 2-7 Cavalry. He also served as an Armor trainer with the 91st Division as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve and a tank company commander, battalion S-3 and brigade S-3 with 116th Cavalry BCT, Idaho Army National Guard His military education includes the Armor Officer Basic Course, Armor Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms Services Staff School, Command and General Staff College and the Army War College. LTC Gilson holds a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Central Florida in business administration and a master’s of science degree from the U.S. Army War College in strategic studies.

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