Spiritual Soldiers tailor training for mission accomplishment
July 15, 2014
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan -- Chaplains and chaplain assistants assigned to the 10th Sustainment Brigade conducted their religious support team training with the brigade's unit ministry team July 10 here.
The training was made up of three focus areas: first responders to a victim of sexual harassment or assault, religious support and the operations process, and convoy escort team training.
First responders to a victim of sexual harassment or assault is a class that was mandated by Maj. Gen. Donald L. Rutherford, chief of chaplains of the U.S. Army, to be completed no later than Oct. 1, 2014.
The class, which was conducted by Maj. James Pennington, the 10th SBDE chaplain, provided chaplains and chaplain assistants with in-depth training on how they should respond to a sexual assault crime. The training emphasized that the RST should encourage a victim to report the crime and seek further assistance from the sexual assault response coordinator or the victim advocate.
They received training to better understand the difference between restricted and unrestricted reporting to provide better guidance as to where the victims should go.
"Comprehensive consoling tools are furnished during the training so that victims can receive the best counseling possible from chaplains and chaplain assistants," said Staff Sgt. Jamie Proudfoot, the 10th SBDEs senior chaplain assistant. "Confidentiality was another key subject that reminds RST members that legally [they] cannot tell anyone what the victims talked about."
After the RST's completed the first class, they moved on to the religious support and the operations process, which gave them a better insight on how the Army conducts business.
"Most battalion RSTs have a chaplain and chaplain assistants are brand new to the Army and do not understand what an operations order does or how it relates to their mission," said Proudfoot. This class also allowed RST members to understand that their role is a sustainment role. It provided them with the eight sustainment principles and advised them that they should act instead of reacting to ever changing religious support requirements."
After the class, they were released for lunch and were informed to meet back up for their final portion of their training.
The purpose of the CET training was a way to familiarize them with the capabilities of the mine resistant ambush protected vehicles as well as their roles on a convoy mission, which was provided by Spc. Pollanna Tanuvasa, the 419th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion chaplain assistant.
"Typically, RSTs show up to a convoy brief [and] jump in the back of a vehicle in which they have no idea of its capabilities," said Proudfoot.
They were trained on the components and capabilities of the MRAP, casualty evacuation procedures, reporting processes as well as radio etiquette.
Some of the Soldiers were learning something new every step of the way, while others already had a pretty good grasp of the training.
The RSTs learned how to properly secure a casualty to a litter and what it takes to load a litter in the back of an MRAP while in full personal protective equipment.
Once the training was completed, they received real-world scenarios that reinforced the training and what they have learned in the past.
Pennington said, their goal was to focus on the chaplain assistants as much as the chaplains, which he felt they were successful.
"It was a challenge," he said. "We tried to be creative and keep the RSTs out of the classroom as much as possible and to drum up the competition among the RSTs."