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VILSECK, Germany — Demand for remedial reading and mathematics training for soldiers has increased since the arrival of 3,500 predominantly young members of the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment, an official says.

Central Texas College counselor Manny Iglesias said this week that his school will double its space from 25 to 50 students in the FAST (functional academic skills training) classes at Vilseck in February.

FAST classes help soldiers with poor reading and mathematics skills.

Last year Central Texas College offered four FAST classes, each accommodating up to 25 students. But none of the classes were full and a class in December attracted only 15 students, Iglesias said.

“Then we offered one in February and all of a sudden we had 40 people interested in the class. We had to put some on standby,” he said

At a town hall meeting in Vilseck last week, a 2nd Cav soldier said 80 places in FAST classes at the base would not be enough this year.

“I know 80 people in my company who want to take the class,” he said.

Iglesias said the large influx of young 2nd Cav soldiers was the reason for the increased interest in FAST classes.

“There are a lot more young soldiers who are trying to change their MOS (military occupational specialty) or do something that requires a GT (general technical) score of 110,” Iglesias said.

Soldiers who want to attend officer cadet school, become warrant officers or learn to fly helicopters must score at least 110 on the GT test. FAST classes teach the sort of material soldiers need to know to raise their GT score, he said.

Soldiers can take the 60-hour class, which runs during duty hours, if they are referred by their commander, he said.

Before starting the class, soldiers must take a test to establish their reading and math level, Iglesias said.

“If their reading and math skills are below 10th-grade level they automatically qualify for the class,” he added.

During classes soldiers do assignments from textbooks and work one-on-one with an instructor, Iglesias said.

“This is not like a regular class where an instructor is teaching the whole class. You might have some students in 6th-grade level for reading and there might be another at 8th-grade level for math,” he said.

The first FAST classes at Vilseck this year start on Feb. 5 and Feb. 20, he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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