JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- In a military where change is inevitable, especially during time of war, exchanging ideas and passing on lessons learned can prove valuable for all organizations, but especially for the Army's newest configuration of intelligence Soldiers.

The 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade recently hosted the third annual BfSB Symposium at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. More than 100 personnel attended from the three active-duty and the seven National Guard BfSBs in the Army. Even the commander of 504th BfSB returned to JBLM for the intel conference from Afghanistan.

The main purpose of the symposium was to provide a place where the BfSBs and personnel from around the Army tasked with training, equipping and manning them could meet to share invaluable experiences from recent deployments and training, said Maj. Jeff Fair, 201st BfSB project officer.
Fair attended the first BfSB symposium in 2009, a "lessons learned" meeting hosted by 525th BfSB at Fort Bragg, N.C. Last year's symposium was hosted by 504th BfSB at Fort Hood, Texas.

Deployed to Iraq, Fair was unable to attend, but learned that attendees broadened the scope to include manning and equipping issues.

Fair said 201st BfSB likewise built in the added topics, and for the first time, invited all National Guard BfSBs.

"It really drives home the point that this is not just an active-duty (operation), but a total service effort," said Col. Paul Norwood, 201st BfSB commander. "Our National Guard counterparts are absolutely involved in training in deploying, so it's important that they are included, too."

With 67th BfSB presently in Iraq and 525th BfSB in Afghanistan, leaders from both participated by video teleconference. Norwood said the VTC was "tremendously helpful."

"When you can have the communications and connectivity to reach out to the units who are absolutely getting after the training or the execution of the mission right now, that's just invaluable," he said.

The symposium also attracted members of the Intelligence Center of Excellence in Arizona, Maneuver Center of Excellence in Georgia and Aviation Center of Excellence in Alabama. Fair said their participation was one of the best things about the third BfSB symposium.

"They are responsible for training BfSBs, and we were able to give feedback that will better assist them with training in the future," Fair said.

With the 201st BfSB in the process of generating a cavalry squadron, the future direction of BfSBs was an important subject. How to optimize the capabilities of the agile cavalry organizations while they work closely with the brigade's intelligence battalions to form multifunctional teams was a primary topic Norwood called the teams the "Swiss Army knife of capability."

"When you go into a deployed location with a maneuver unit, you have a mixture of intelligence capability that's integrated with the maneuver element so that you can really be responsive and able to conduct your operations in a very advanced way," he said.

Both 504th and 525th BfSBs shared their cavalry experience with Norwood and his 201st leaders and staff. As hundreds of new Soldiers arrive during the coming months, the commander will use the information to focus training and integrate the squadron into the brigade.

"Our task now is to make sure we're prepared to train all those people and receive them in a first class fashion with their families," Norwood said. "At the end of the day, the most important thing we need to do is make sure that we're ready to deploy, and our troops are trained in a way that lets us be successful on the battlefield."

Laura M. Levering: laura.may.levering@us.army.mil

Page last updated Thu April 28th, 2011 at 17:41