Silver Scimitar preps human resources Soldiers for deployment
August 13, 2012
FORT DEVENS, Mass. -- Human resources specialists support all Soldiers on the battlefield, whether it's through payroll, awards, casualty reports, movement in and out of theater or just delivering the mail.
Silver Scimitar, a U.S. Army Forces Command-sponsored, two-week training event held at Fort Devens annually gives HR Soldiers additional training and expertise to provide services crucial to supporting theater operations.
"There's not many sources for the (Adjutant General Corps) community to train for some of the wartime missions they'll fall in on, and that's what we provide for them," said Silver Scimitar director, Col. Denise Gaines-Edmond.
To prepare for that mission, HR Soldiers are instructed on the newest doctrine and core-competency training, while learning from seasoned military and civilian instructors from different Department of Defense and government agencies.
"Their experience makes the training more relevant; and we make it tangible. We put what they're learning into use right away through training events," Gaines-Edmond said.
This year, Silver Scimitar brings together more than 300 HR Soldiers from 21 different units with trainers and experts from a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise. It's a multi-echelon, multi-component exercise that prepares HR Soldiers to provide theater-level sustainment from the ground up for troops supporting operations around the world.
These Soldiers work at every level of the command structure, from companies up to the theater level and across components, serving active duty Soldiers, as well as U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard troops and blend them seamlessly across all levels of operations.
"We're trying to validate training that human resource specialist Soldiers don't get at their home stations, but for jobs they'll be expected to do in theater. We expect them to come here already trained in their home station jobs, but ready to train on new doctrine," Gaines-Edmond said.
The exercise also reflects the changing nature of the Army and its need to adapt to current wartime conditions. Silver Scimitar started in the mid-1980s as an annual training event for U.S. Army Reserve personnel units, explained Gaines-Edmond.
Silver Scimitar has recently morphed into a pre-deployment training event that incorporates both doctrine and current operational knowledge for all components. Most of the Soldiers participating in the exercise will be deploying within the next six months.
Subject matter experts currently operating in Kuwait, Afghanistan or other locations were brought to the exercise this year. They are participating as trainers and sharing their valuable deployment experience with Soldiers who will replace currently deployed units in the near future.
"That's one of the great things about Silver Scimitar, it's run all by HR professionals," said Sgt. Maj. Gerald Cureton, FORSCOM Headquarters. "Units preparing to deploy can meet and learn from the units they may be replacing soon, helping smooth the transition to theater."
"When they hit the ground, they already have an idea who their counterpart is, who they're working with, because they met several of them here at Silver Scimitar," Cureton said. "They know some of what to expect, and even what kind of preparations they can do at home station before they actually deploy. In the HR world, networking and relationship building is vital."
Silver Scimitar isn't just a chance for HR Soldiers to network and share ideas and experience. After a week's worth of doctrinal training with a focus on collective tasks, HR units participate in a culminating training event, which closely simulates their actual duties on the battlefield. Teams practice processing casualty reports, moving Soldiers on and off the battlefield, handling personnel issues, and even run mock post office operations.
"I've certainly picked up a lot from this, and the subject-matter experts sharing their knowledge of the latest standard operating procedures lets us know what's happening in-theater now," said Spc. Adrian Chambliss, human resources specialist, 22nd Human Resources Company, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
"Every aspect has helped a lot, and I'm taking away ways to build better relationships, better rapport and bring better service downrange," Chambliss said.
During this exercise the HR Soldier sees the benefit of this unique form of training, said Cureton, because they apply the doctrine, using the knowledge and advice they gained from the trainers and subject-matter experts.
"It's a crawl, walk, run process," said Cureton, and the final event pulls it all together. "At the end of the day, they walk away with confidence, with a working knowledge."
Some of the new features to this year's Silver Scimitar include a senior leaders overview lane, integrated training database and a series of pre-, mid- and post-exercise assessments. This year's exercise also introduced an esprit-de-corps run and a football tournament.
Up to now, said Gaines-Edmond, Silver Scimitar has been an informal joint-effort among the active duty, Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve, and with the close-working relationships developed, they've made it a success. Now the HR community is working to certify Silver Scimitar as the premiere exercise to validate training for deploying HR units.
Just as combat troops use the National Training Center and the Joint Readiness Training Center to validate combat arms and combat support units, she hopes Silver Scimitar will soon do the same for deploying HR units.
"We would like to see Silver Scimitar go into that kind of a realm as a big Army mission," Gaines-Edmonds said. "This training hasn't been validated like NTC, but commanders can certify the training. Our endeavor is to get this as a required HR validation event for train/ready units. We're filling a gap right now, and we can validate and enhance what brigade commanders do."