By Natalie Skelton, USAREC, Beckley BattalionJune 3, 2013
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va., -- The young men and women attending a recent Beckley Battalion mega-Future Soldier event were nervous as they got off the bus at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Headquarters, because they knew they were about to meet the four-star commander of TRADOC.
This mega-Future Soldier event was going to be quite different than those usually held by recruiters to give their Future Soldiers some basic training skills and help them understand what would await them when they reported for their basic combat training (BCT) course.
This mega event was held at the Joint Base Langley-Eustis (JBLE) and started off at the Army's TRADOC Headquarters and included a tour of the Army's training facilities on JBLE. Even though the Future Soldiers were nervous, the event was designed to show them the confidence they could gain through learning the fundamentals of the Army and by seeing actual Army training being conducted.
As a means of preparing new recruits for BCT, Future Soldiers functions are a pivotal event for Future Soldiers. Regular Future Soldier events are usually held once each quarter at center or company levels in the local area. A mega-Future Soldier event, however, is a large endeavor requiring a lot of coordination efforts between recruiting personnel and the proper offices and individuals on the installation to ensure that the tours, briefings and transportation for Future Soldiers and special guests, and all other details run with military precision.
"This event is a great learning experience for these Soldiers. I'm very proud of them," said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Torres, assistant center commander, Newport News, Va., Recruiting Center and the event's overall coordinator.
Gen. Robert W. Cone, TRADOC commander, was happy to take some time from his busy schedule to greet the Future Soldiers and give them some words of encouragement as they prepared to begin their Army careers. Both he and TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Dailey talked to the new enlistees and answered their questions about basic training, Army life, the future of the Army, deployments and more. During their time at the headquarters, the Future Soldiers also got to meet the TRADOC Drill Sergeant of the Year and the Advanced Individual Training Platoon (AIT) Sergeant of the Year, who shared their insights into basic training and answered questions.
"The hardest part about a mega function is, when you are dealing with 60 to 110 Future Soldiers, is confirming whether people are attending and coordinating the transportation," Torres said.
"Sometimes it is extremely difficult to get responses back from Future Soldiers when we call them or email them. Just like a parent with their kids, it doesn't matter how many times you tell a Future Soldier or how much advance time you give them, it's like pulling teeth to get them to do anything."
He added that transportation is a tricky part of the coordination process because many of the Future Soldiers don't have a vehicle, so he and other coordinators look to other Future Soldiers for assistance. But regardless of difficulty, leaving any Future Soldier out of an event is not an option.
"We can just say they cannot attend because it is too difficult to plan accordingly; however, we do not do that," Torres said. It requires some long hours to ensure we have 60 to 75 percent of our pool at a mega Future Soldier event."
During the tour of the training facilities, the Future Soldiers were given a short cruise and an orientation tour aboard the Army's Landing Craft -- Utility (LCU) training boat stationed at the Army's Transportation School for 88K (Watercraft Operator) and 88L (Watercraft Engineer) AIT course Soldiers at JBLE.
If nothing else, these Future Soldiers, got to see firsthand that the Army is not just a bunch of people in green suits marching around all the time, but that there are Soldiers working in jobs like the watercraft operators that they would never have thought would be part of the Army.