<b>FORT JACKSON, S.C.</b> - Out with the old, and in with the new.

Non-commissioned officers assigned to the Army Reserve's 81st Regional Support Command here are spending their after-work hours learning new tricks of the trade.

That trade is the Army's newest unit fitness program -- the Physical Readiness Training.

Led by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Rayborn, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the emergency operations center for the command, Soldiers mentally threw away the old school way of thinking and opened their minds to a positive change in a new Army.

Rayborn said the new program is designed to prepare Soldiers and units for the physical challenges of fulfilling the mission in complex operating environments.

"The 'traditional' program was designed for fitness," he said. "The new program takes it to the next level. It is designed to strengthen and condition our Soldiers in a manner that more closely mimics the actions that will be required of them while fulfilling their mission."

Unlike the old physical training program built around pushups, sit ups and running, the PRT is designed for all phases of the Army Force Generation cycle.

Rayborn said it also has programs for conditioning Soldiers that have temporary profiles and getting them back to full capabilities.

With two simultaneous combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and numerous other state-side mobilizations and overseas deployments, the Army Reserve force has been pulled numerous directions.

The success of those missions comes from a formula that includes being both physically and mentally fit to accept challenges of being in a new Army Reserve.

Rayborn said the notion that citizen warriors are not mission-ready is a thing of the past.

"First and foremost, Army Reservists are Soldiers," he said. "We are an integral part of the operational Army that can be called on at any time to fill a mission."

Rayborn and other NCOs believe that is their inherent responsibility as leaders and Soldiers to be physically ready to respond.

"This program provides all of the information that leaders and Soldiers need to design their own fitness routine to use between battle assemblies to ensure that they are as physically ready as our active-duty counterparts," he said.

For one human resource NCO, the new program is a welcome change.

Master Sgt. Juliet Jones, originally from Nottingham, England, said physical fitness will always be a daily part of a Soldier's life and any change for the better is a change she will tackle head on.

"It's important to maintain our fitness level, because we are Soldiers period," she said. "We may be called on at anytime to deploy or mobilize, and we should be fit and ready to fight. There is one regulation, one standard period."

After the week-long training event, Rayborn said he hopes Soldiers understand the advantages and utilize the principles of the program.

"I want them to see the benefit of the new activities and apply them," he said. "NCOs are the trainers. It is incumbent that each NCO conducts standards-based, performance-oriented, and mission-focused PRT. This is the future."

Page last updated Wed October 20th, 2010 at 11:05