Building local partner network ensures training excellence
April 26, 2013
Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst N.J. -- Soldiers assigned to First Army's training support battalions have a responsibility to provide the most relevant and expert training available. In order to gain this valuable expertise and proficiency, the planning, rehearsal, and execution of certified training must begin at home station. However, for the 174th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East, not all battalions and trainers are at their home station of Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst N.J.
"Due to the (current fiscal and resourcing) restraints, we prioritized building new relationships in our local area for training support," said Maj. Charles Comfort, executive officer, 3rd Battalion, 309th Training Support Regiment, Liverpool, N.Y. "We are a Training Support Battalion. We should be able to train service members anywhere on any subject."
In line with the Army Force Generation model, the Reserve Component TSBns build versatile and networked organizations that operate on a rotational cycle and on order, provide a sustained flow of trained and ready instructors to execute and certify contingency and defense training operations. This supports First Army Division East's overall mission of mobilizing and training RC Soldiers and units for deployments around the world.
Comprised of both active and Reserve Component Soldiers, the 174th Inf Bde trainer mentors are stationed in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and other states across the Eastern seaboard. When Soldiers stationed in Maryland need to certify to maintain their skills, traveling to New Jersey may not be the most fiscally responsible choice.
"Partnering with the Reserve Component has always been a part of the solution," explained Lt. Col. Calvin Fish, commander, 3rd Battalion, 312th Training Support Regiment, Fort Meade, Md. "Without partners, readiness would stagnate."
Trainer/mentors are required to be combat lifesavers in the event of an emergency during training. Recently, 3-312th TSBn partnered with Kimbrough Army Medical Center co-located at Fort Meade, to assist with combat lifesaver certification. Although 3-312th's sister battalion -- 1st battalion, 314th Infantry Regiment located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. -- trains and certifies combat lifesavers on a daily basis, using geographically-closer mission partners expends less time, money, and resources.
"With dwindling resources, doing things closer to home station and partnering with other Reserve Component Soldiers to meet training objectives just makes fiscal sense," Fish asserted.
Fish shared several examples of successful partnerships with other specialized training organizations that continue to help the TSBn meet its professional milestones. He mentioned 2nd Battalion, 70th Regiment Garrison Support, located about 30 miles away from Fort Meade, Md. Its mission is to train the Army Basic Instructor Course, Combat Lifesaver Course and Modern Army Combative Program Level one qualification. All three training certifications are mission-essential tasks for 174th Infantry Brigade trainer/mentors.
"All of these are vital skills we need to be trained on or to train others on," Fish explained. "As a Regional Training Institute, they have the accreditation we need to make our certifications authentic."
Partnership is a two-way street, Fish explained. The Reserve Component has resource constraints at varying levels. Fish said leaders must learn to become adept at developing relationships with mission partners. The key, he continued is to develop and ensure a bond between organizations that will last after the individuals depart.
"It's been a best practice as long as I've been in the Army," agreed Capt. Joseph Macchiarella, plans and operations officer of 2nd Battalion, 310th Regiment, 174th Inf Bde stationed at Fort Devens, Mass. "I can't over-emphasize the importance of reaching out and combining efforts when planning and executing training."
At Reserve installations such as Fort Devens, units often consolidate efforts to meet yearly training requirements. Macchiarella cited the annual Soldier Readiness Processing requirements as an example. However, partnering with local Army National Guard entities has also proven an effective "train-the-trainer" model, said Macchiarella.
"We are working with the Massachusetts and Rhode Island National Guards. These are forged relationships that continue to provide valuable expertise and repeated benefits both ways," Macchiarella added.
Similar to diversity in all respects, collaboration most often results in higher quality and streamlined results.
"Working with other units enhances our training. It provides us with opportunities to see how others train and also to use other training areas," said Comfort.
There are plenty of resources in your backyard Comfort said. He urged units to look around and ask questions, to create great training with limited costs.
"When a local unit requests our help, we treat it as a trainer/mentor training opportunity," explained Comfort. "Our Soldiers will lead the training lane, advise the leadership, and conduct a solid AAR."
The joint training concept emerged well before the fiscal restraints, Comfort asserted. But fiscal restraints make the staff work a little harder and force them to communicate outside the box, he added.
"Developing partnerships, both internal and external to the military community, is essential to keep our Soldiers and Families ready and relevant," added Fish. "In the civilian sector, it is known as networking to build win-win scenarios."