Army Reserve's youngest leaders develop, lead training during battle assembly
October 15, 2012
OWINGS MILLS, Md., -- The six-foot-long brown table turned on its side with metal chairs stacked precariously behind it immediately drew the attention of anyone walking into the room, but it was behind a nearby podium that a potentially deadly threat was hidden.
Although the threat was a mock explosive device, the training was real for the young warfighters assigned to 3rd Platoon, 443rd Military Police Company.
Sgt. Ryan Willoughby, a squad leader from Frederick, Md, decided to use the morning's platoon time to have his Soldiers practice room-clearing techniques and quickly transformed the Army Reserve Center here into a make-shift training environment for the company assigned to the Army Reserve's 200th Military Police Command.
Willoughby said being a Soldier is doing the right thing all the time.
"I always have them doing something; a big priority of this company is training," he said about ensuring his Soldiers stay busy with training that is relevant.
After each squad cleared the room several times, Soldiers repositioned the tables and chairs and left no evidence of military police training, as the room was used shortly afterwards for more classroom training.
"On our battle assembly weekends, we give our platoon sergeants their own time on Saturday mornings to take care of Soldiers," said 1st Sgt. Cindy Babb.
From counseling Soldiers to on-the-spot training, Babb said it has been her priority to maximize weekend training at the squad and platoon levels -- and that takes long hours and late nights of planning.
"We plan our training so the Soldiers know exactly what they're doing and due to prior planning they're not scrambling around," she said. "I give all the credit to our young leaders we are mentoring within our ranks."
Taking the helm as the senior NCO of the military police guard company several months ago, Babb said battle assembly weekends should never be a waste of time.
"It should be productive and reinforce what they know so when they leave on Sunday, they can answer the question, 'what did I get out of this?'"
Like many military occupational skills, to maintain a high-level of tactical and technical proficiency Soldiers must continue to train -- even if it is only one weekend a month.
Cpt. Matthew Gibbons, the unit commander, said Soldiers come to battle assembly to train and sustain their skill sets.
"We want to make them feel like they're going to learn something that morning when they put on their uniforms and drive to work," Gibbons said. "We must motivate our young troops, and we do that through meaningful and fresh new training."
Gibbons said focused time is time well spent so the Soldiers see value in their time away from other opportunities.
"Soldiers are going to sacrifice time away from their family and friends to come out here to maintain readiness, so if I make it worth their time then it's worth my time," said Gibbons.
After lunch, Soldiers mustered in a large formation at the nearby motorpool.
One of the Soldiers lying prone on the asphalt was Spc. Jon-Luc Hailey, a native of Littlestown, Penn.
Hailey served nine months in Afghanistan when members of the 443rd deployed, and is preparing to be a civilian police officer in Pennsylvania, he said.
"Training is more efficient, and we do more of what we're supposed to do so there's more to look forward to," said Hailey. "I love the adrenaline (I get) from being a Soldier."
As the last of the junior Soldiers drove away from the Reserve Center located just outside of Baltimore, senior NCOs and officers gathered in the company headquarters to plan future training.
"As leaders, we are dedicated to our Soldiers," Babb said. "We must ensure they walk away from battle assembly weekends wanting more training, because one day, they will be the future leaders of the 200th Military Police Command."