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Wed, 24 Nov 2010, 10:02 AM

Team Summit Germany Troop Visit Blog Day 3
Courtesy of Jon Knapp


After spending Monday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the Team Summit drivers spent their third day in Germany spending time in Sembach and back at Ramstein. For today's blog, six-time Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson, a five-year troop visit veteran, share his thoughts on the 2010 tour, as well as a look back at the day's events:

As I have stated in the past, these trips to visit our troops are not an obligation to me, but an honor. Over the years, even though the circumstances or the theater of operations might have changed, the tremendous attitude displayed by our troops remains the same. If people back in the United States shared these young men and women's positive outlook in all phases of life, I don't think we would have nearly as many problems.

During our visit to the hospital yesterday, we saw the consequences of conflict. Today, however, we saw how our military works to keep our people safe and keep the results we experienced on Monday to an absolute minimum. In our first stop, we traveled to the base in Sembach to spend time with the 435th Security Forces Squadron (SMS). These people are responsible for training all the security forces in Europe, both American and otherwise, a process they allowed us to not only witness, but experience firsthand.

As they explained it, their role is pre-deployment training, with most, if not all of their students going downrange, whether to Iraq, Afghanistan or another hostile target with 90 days. During their time with the SMS, their instructors told us they looked to help their recruits develop core survival skills to ensure that they do as much as they can to stay safe while in the field.

The first example they showed us was a shooting and driving simulator. Unfortunately, the Humvee driving simulator was down yesterday, but we certainly had a good time trying out the various weapons in the mother of all video games. We were each given a firearm (in my case a grenade launcher) that works with compressed air and an elaborate computer system.

After some brief instructions, we were run through a series of challenges, which ranged from shooting cartoon turkeys to having to evaluate the situation and maintain control. Ironically, of the four drivers, Rickie Jones, who, by his own admission, had never even shot a gun in the past, scored the most hits out of our bunch, prompting the group to give him the nickname of "Scarface."

>From there, we were invited to watch a tremendous physical demonstration, where some well-hewn young men from Arizona performed a series of exercises designed to help their students learn the core skills necessary to survive. The ceiling was low, but you could still hear and feel the impact of their training from down the hall.

As our host Tony Dernell explained, it is this unit's goal to determine where the fight is going to occur and control where it happens with the ultimate objective being to give their students the confidence and ability to fight harder, fight longer, eventually finding a way to end it. As they explained, they will win because the American public expects it.

In watching the demonstration, we were amazed by the participants' remarkable condition, reflecting their unit's motto of "Fit to Fight". Once they were done, they invited us to take part, with only Rickie Jones and Wayne Reed, the youngest and oldest members of our group, accepting the challenge, and I must say they did a fine job of upholding our honor.

We then moved over to the most dramatic exercise of the day, the Humvee Egress Simulator. Although the instructors call it their "little carnival ride", the objective is quite serious, as this training will produce a 250% increase in their survival rate. Simply, a full-sized replica of a Humvee is placed on the world's largest rotisserie, with up to five students boarding the vehicle in full battle gear. Once inside, they are put through a series of rolls, simulating the vehicle's performance when hit by an IED, with the simulator ending upside down. All occupants are then instructed to leave by a designated exit, learning a behavior that could save their lives in the field.

After watching a demonstration by a crack crew, we were then invited to give it a try. Although we all escaped unscathed, let's just say none of us should quit our day jobs. However, it did leave everyone in the room laughing heartily. We then ended our time at Sembach with an autograph session for the people who had just acted as our instructors.

We then returned to Ramstein AB, meeting up with SMSgt Vince Britton of the 435th Contingency Readiness Group, where we had lunch before heading over to another building where approximately 14 stations were assembled to walk us through the division's many capabilities. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Col. Scott Erickson, who called the 435th CRG the "Swiss Army Knife" of the army, a small but extremely vital piece of the entire organization.

As we walked through the room, we were given a thorough explanation on the unit's capabilities. At each table the group's representatives were eager to explain their assignment, answering any questions we might have. It was truly an eye-opener to see just how much one unit could handle. Among their many responsibilities are Airfield Assessment, Thermal Imaging, Water Purification, Weaponry, Deployment, Communications, Weather, Intel, Medical and Military and Civil construction, assignments they will handle at the very opening of the operation, eventually handing it over to other units for the long term.

It's good to see the troops getting the equipment required to fight these conflicts, as well as having the technical expertise to get the job done. It's all very expensive, but the continued development of equipment to keep our soldiers ahead of the enemy is crucial, no matter what it costs. Finally, just as we did in the morning, we had a special autograph session in the very same room to thank them.

The final team activity of the day was dinner at the Deutsches Haus, where we had eaten breakfast on Monday. After another meal filled with laughter and tall tales, we headed back to the hotel for the night. In closing, I must once again say how impressed I am by the young men and women of our military, as well as their commitment to serving their country. I certainly want to thank Summit Racing for including me in this year's trip and would welcome the chance to do it again.

However, our time here is not yet done. We still have a full slate of activities for tomorrow, so I invite you to check back and see what our final author has to say about what we did, as well as his perspective about our time here in Germany.

Note: For more photos from Team Summit's trip, please visit www.summitracing,com

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