'Cross Briefs' help BSTB Soldiers understand each other
January 5, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Army News Service, Jan. 5, 2009) -- You know the old saying that your right hand should always know what your left hand is doing' Well, imagine how tough that would be if you had almost 70 hands.
That, in a nutshell, is the challenge facing Soldiers in the Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division's, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. With 69 different military occupational specialties ranging from combat engineers to cryptographers, the BSTB operates as a "team of teams." But all that specialization can leave some troopers in the battalion unfamiliar with the skills their comrades on other teams bring to the table.
To remedy that problem, the BSTB recently held "cross briefs" in which Soldiers from the battalion learned about the unique skills and equipment possessed by each of the different sections.
"Every company (in the BSTB) has a different mission and a different role and is a different asset to the Brigade as a whole," said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Gonzales, a platoon sergeant and telecommunications chief with Company C. "So, with the cross briefs, we're just trying to help people understand what everybody else does."
The cross brief training was held at the battalion motor pool Dec. 15, and featured static displays of equipment, demonstrations, and subject matter experts from each section explaining how they do their jobs.
Lt. Col. Keith Pellegrini, the battalion commander, said the intent behind the training was to make every trooper in the battalion realize that, when it comes to the BSTB, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
"Every single individual in this battalion is important to the success of the mission, and everybody has a role to play, regardless of where they're located on the battlefield," Pellegrini said.
The BSTB is comprised of a company of combat engineers, a signal company, a military intelligence company, and a headquarters company with military police, chemical, and various other specialties. All those unique skill sets were on display during the cross brief event.
The training was set up so that each trooper in the battalion had the chance to handle the equipment used by the other sections and receive a briefing on how the equipment is employed on the battlefield. Throughout the day, the blast of an air horn sent groups rotating from station to station. At any given moment there might be satellite maintainers paddling the engineers' inflatable zodiac boat, unmanned aerial vehicle operators learning how to use a stun gun, and mechanics trying on HAZ-MAT suits.
For most of the afternoon, Pfc. Josh Winburn was posted next to his vehicle-mounted Joint Network Node shelter. Winburn, a JNN operator with Company C, had the difficult job of explaining the system's complicated data transmission process to the paratroopers who cycled by.
"It's not glamorous, but there's a lot to it," Winburn said.
Dazed looks spread over the faces of the Soldiers Winburn was briefing as he rattled off a stream of complicated-sounding computer acronyms.
"What's your GT score'" someone asked him semi-jokingly, referring to the aptitude test the Army uses to determine what jobs new Soldiers are suited for.
After they had walked off, Winburn said he hoped his briefing would help give troopers from the other companies in the battalion a greater appreciation of what "commo" soldiers do every day.
"Hopefully, they won't take us for granted now," he said.
The lesson wasn't lost on Pfc. Ryan Rawson, a satellite operator with C Company, who said the training gave him a clearer picture of how the battalion functions as a whole.
"It lets you see how everybody is pulling their weight to get the mission done," Rawson said.
As the briefs wrapped up for the day, Gonzales said all the hard work that had gone into the event had been in the service of a very simple idea.
"It's easier to work with someone if you understand what they do," he said.
(Staff Sgt. Mike Pryor writes for 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Public Affairs)