3rd Brigade leaders, Soldiers share lessons learned in Afghanistan
March 25, 2010
An important step in resetting 3rd Brigade Combat Team after its return from Afghanistan consists of taking lessons learned during training and deployment and using them to influence the next BCT rotation.
Key brigade leaders and Soldiers had an opportunity March 16-19 to not only share lessons learned with their incoming counterparts but to impart their wisdom on more than 20 Center of Excellence and Department of Defense agencies during a consolidated forum on post.
"Spartan Lessons Learned" Week was instigated by Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander. The event allowed outside agencies to collect data from leaders and Soldiers on their recent Operation Enduring Freedom rotation to Afghanistan. The forum is a new concept that entails gathering outside agencies together at the same time to facilitate a mass collection.
"In the past, information was collected by these agencies in a kind of hit-and-miss manner," said Maj. Arieyeh Austin, 3rd BCT operation plans officer. "One agency would seek one section of Soldiers, such as engineers or intelligence officers. But never has the Army really gotten all the agencies together at once and all key unit players together at once for something this big."
As the situation in Iraq began to stabilize and more attention turned to Afghanistan, some military units initially scheduled to deploy to Iraq were rerouted to fight the escalation of violence in Afghanistan. The Spartan Brigade was the first Army unit to be rerouted and put into a relatively obscure area south of Kabul to protect its southern borders and provide security along two of the country's main travel routes.
The brigade moved into an area that originally supported a battalion-sized element of some 600 Soldiers. Facilities built for this element had to be expanded to support the more than 3,000 Spartan troops who moved into the area of operations. The brigade faced some unique challenges during its rotation, and Soldiers were tasked to create new standards in their efforts to secure the two provinces they had jurisdiction over.
"The agencies were very eager to talk to members of 3rd Brigade," Austin said. "The unit did some great things over in Afghanistan, and all guests were excited to talk with its members and identify what worked as a battle standard and what were some of the setbacks."
Division initiated the process for the brigade, hoping it would be a refreshing, new and more effective process for the Army and 3rd BCT.
"This is a new process that the division is trying out," said Austin. "It will probably be re-enacted in the future for other units. It has been very effective and not only helps our personal reset process but helps the Army as a whole."
"This was great," said Maj. Laura Wells, 3rd BCT staff judge advocate. "This promulgated discussion among staff members and brought about a reflection of how things were done and then a different perspective on how things could have been handled. It was a good process all around."
In the future, the division command team hopes to maintain the same data collection standard and give other returning units the same opportunity to relay their experiences.