First Army Commander Visits: HonorAfA Tours Training Sites on Bliss, McGregor
August 30, 2007
Lt. Gen. Russel L. HonorAfA, commanding general of First Army, visited several training sites at Fort Bliss Thursday. HonorAfA saw firsthand how the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, First Army, conducts pre-deployment training for thousands of deploying Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen at McGregor Range, N.M. One of HonorAfA's stops was the combat lifesaver lane.
"We've had combat lifesavers trained in First Army who have been recommended for the Soldier's Medal because they came upon an accident and they knew what to do," said HonorAfA.
HonorAfA said these lifesaving skills are applicable on the battlefield but also in everyday life. He cited a recent example where a sergeant first class in the Midwest saved a man's life because the sergeant had his combat life-saver bag with him and was able to stop the bleeding. The sergeant was submitted for a Soldier's Medal, said HonorAfA.
"[Combat lifesaver training] is a lifetime learning that these Soldiers are getting as they prepare for war," said HonorAfA.
HonorAfA's visit to the CLS training site coincided with the 35th Military Police Company's final field training event. The exercise was a simulated mass casualty scenario where Soldiers applied the lifesaving skills they learned from the course.
Soldiers from the 35th MP Co. will deploy to Iraq to conduct detainee operations. Those deploying for the first time said training CLS in a field environment put a real world perspective on the instruction.
"I thought the training was pretty high speed," said Spc. James Hallagin, gunner, 35th MP Co. "I've never been through anything like this. I've done CLS training before but it was all classroom."
"It was exhausting," said Pvt. Christopher Cates, 35th MP Co. "We were pretty smoked after we got done. I feel pretty good. It's something we're going to be able to use over [in Iraq]."
Cates said he feels good his unit is CLS certified and is reassured that everyone is capable of taking care of each other and making it home alive.
The observer controller/trainers from the 402nd FA Bde., said Soldiers receive the most thorough and current instruction available. Staff Sgt. Michael Belcher, instructor, Task Force Mustang, 402nd FA Bde., said visits from his chain of command are always welcomed.
"It's good to know that from the top down, they are aware of what's going on here," said Belcher. "We usually have at least a general [visit here] every week and we enjoy that because a lot of lessons learned that they see here, they can take back to their home stations."
HonorAfA said McGregor is an excellent training facility due to its remote location. He said he is thankful to both the Fort Bliss and El Paso communities for the reception and hospitality they have had for the troops.
"You get up [to McGregor] and it is about training," said HonorAfA. This is about being isolated ... When the Soldiers come here they focus on one thing: 'Train for war.' McGregor is, and will continue to be, one of our premier mobilization training centers."