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NEWS | June 9, 2022

Facility Coordinator Course’s practical exercise engages students

By Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood 88th Readiness Division

The 88th Readiness Division/Directorate of Public Works Facility Coordinator Course’s flyer touts it as a highly interactive, energetic, contractor-taught three-day course.

Case in point, a Real Property Management Board practical exercise at the General John J. Pershing Memorial U.S. Army Reserve Center here May 26, 2022, which was held on the final day of the course. Army Regulation 140-483 requires that site commanders conduct a RPMB at least twice a year. During the mockup RPMB exercise, students assumed different roles as company commanders or building tenants, facility coordinators and site commanders in a “town hall” setting. Each of the company commanders were given scenarios, ranging from requesting blanks to be fired during an active shooter exercise to hosting a Red Cross Blood Drive.

The board was set up with the site commander and the facility coordinator sitting at the head table fielding the questions and concerns. The facility coordinator is a non-voting member and must keep minutes and submit them to a facility operations specialist. There must be at least 50 percent of the tenants in attendance to convene a board. A board is required to meet twice annually although it is up to the site commander how often he or she wants to hold a board.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Steichen, assigned as the facility coordinator at the U.S. Army Reserve Center in Arlington Heights, Ill., said he enjoyed the conversations between the tenants during the exercise. “It was good because we can apply it to when we go back to our home stations and do the exact same thing,” said Steichen, who is an active-duty officer assigned as the Reserve’s 2nd Brigade, 86th Training Division’s deputy commanding officer.

This is the seventh mock RPMB exercise that senior instructor Victor Green, who served in the Army Reserve for more than 30 years, has observed. He said this exercise assists the students, who become facility coordinators and site commanders as additional duties, applying the knowledge acquired during the first two days. Also, students who have participated in previous boards at their facilities bring their experiences to the table, said Green.

“They have those healthy discussions that they need to have in order to understand what guidance, policy and procedures are,” said Green. “Each group depending on the characters makes it (the exercise) livelier than others in terms of interactions with each other. Some of the scenarios call for a more in-depth discussion.”

The scenario that creates the latter is a Guardsman bringing his dog to a facility. Another Soldier was allergic to dogs and asked the question, “Is the dog a service animal or is it his pet?

If it was a service animal, was it approved by the facility coordinator? And if the coordinator approved it, what reasonable accommodations will be provided to the Soldier who is allergic to dogs?

Bottom line, a tenant who is not an Army Reserve unit must adhere to the Army Reserve rules, policies and regulations in place. A Guardsman requesting to use a GSA Fleet vehicle also could create a lengthy discussion.

Other items discussed in real-life boards include coordinating battle assembly schedules and use of space, parking issues, resolving local issues, and complying with energy and environmental requirements.

Tucker Robeson, community planner, DPW, said the students were taught several items throughout the course, including who can use what in each building and why they can or can’t, what is authorized and the policies and regulations that guide these questions and a variety of reporting obligations. Students were also taught how each department within the 88th RD provides support, and how to engage with the division to receive the support they need.

1st Lt. Nicholas McKiernan, assigned as the site commander at the LaPorte County Veterans Army Reserve Center, Kingsbury, Ind., said the course was taught well and informative. “I highly recommend for other site commanders to attend the course as well; it provides a great foundation on how to get the appropriate resources for your facility while also keeping up to date with protocols and procedures,” said McKiernan, who is assigned to the 656th Transportation Company, Hobart, Ind.

McKiernan, who was prior enlisted and has been in the Reserve for seven years, said his biggest takeaway was the level of responsibility he has as a site commander. This includes doing an inventory of the facility itself, not just a change of command inventory as a company commander.

“This was very important, and I strongly encourage site commanders and future site commanders to prepare themselves for that as well,” said McKiernan.

Green is hoping students like McKiernan return to their facilities with a wealth of information and educate the units assigned to their buildings. “So, those buildings can run effectively and smooth, and there is no conflict in communication among the tenants,” said Green, who was a DPW for the 81st and 63rd Readiness Divisions.