FORT DEVENS, Mass. - Prior to deploying overseas, soldiers spend countless hours training to perfect their military occupational skills and implementing their expertise in realistic environments.

Human-resources professionals from all over the world traveled to Fort Devens, Mass., from March 8-21 to hone their military workforce skills during one of the largest multi-echelon theater-level personnel exercises the U.S. Army has to offer: Silver Scimitar 2013.

The annual two-week training event provides human-resources service members with concentrated pre-deployment training similar to what combat-arms personnel receive at the National Training Center or Joint Readiness Training Center.

"Silver Scimitar is the only human-resources [pre-deployment] collective training event," said Col. Denise Gaines-Edmond, the Silver Scimitar exercise director. "Our job is service oriented. As HR professionals, we're here to provide support for the warfighters. And just like those combat MOSs, we have perishable skills that need to be refreshed prior to deploying."

In addition to other basic personnel management classes, throughout the two-week exercise, soldiers trained on how to perform postal functions, manage casualty reports and provide military financial support capabilities while in a deployed theater.

While the majority of the 450 Silver Scimitar 2013 attendees served in the U.S. Army, Col. Gaines-Edmond reached out to other branches of the military, and the event had service members from the U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force acting as instructors and trainees.

"It's impressive in itself to see that we speak the same language when it comes to the human-resources operations," said Gaines-Edmond, a native of Fayetteville, N.C. "No matter what branch of service, as HR professionals when we deploy we have to be able to be multi-faceted. The training here ensures that even the most junior soldiers can leave here confident enough to execute their mission downrange."

Staff Sgt. Albert Wheat, a human-resources sergeant assigned to 90th Human Resources Company stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., believes this training will be greatly utilized during his unit's upcoming deployment to Afghanistan later this year.

"We're training on how to handle personnel, how to account for soldiers arriving in theater and how to have an overall smooth workflow while working in different areas of operation," said Wheat, originally from San Antonio.

Like many of the soldiers participating in the annual exercise, Wheat was intent on learning new skills and refining old techniques so he could further his knowledge and continue to build on his increasing MOS skill-set.

"Silver Scimitar is very good and helpful," said Wheat. "It encourages you to learn more about perfecting your MOS, while enhancing some of the basic skills you have been working on. The whole experience just makes you a more knowledgeable soldier."

Maj. Gen. Peter Lennon, commanding general of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, visited Silver Scimitar to observe the event and some of his HR troopers who were participating in the training.

"I'm pretty impressed with what's going on here at Silver Scimitar," said Maj. Gen. Lennon, as he spoke to the HR troopers during a training class. "I'm very proud and I'm very thankful for what you're doing. I hope that you take this training back with you and apply it to wherever you're going because it's going to be valuable to you."

Maj. Gen. Lennon expressed his views to the soldiers during an impromptu speech. He also advised the human-resource professionals to continue to learn, grow and share their wisdom with one another throughout the training event.

"Learn the latest, ask questions and share good ideas," he said. "Knowledge doesn't gain real power until it's shared; share that knowledge with the person next to you."

The human-resources soldiers will continue to improve and build upon their training and skills throughout Silver Scimitar 2013, which is scheduled to conclude later this month.

Page last updated Tue March 19th, 2013 at 23:08