By Capt. Antonia Greene-Edwards, 174th Infantry Brigade Public Affairs June 27, 2013
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.-- In addition to its primary duty of training mobilized service members for the Deployment Expeditionary Force mission, upwards of 40 Trainer/Mentors from the 174th Infantry Brigade served as embedded Observer/Coaches augmenting the 78th Division Combat Support Training Exercise at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
From headquarters elements and transportation companies to military police and engineers, the three-week long annual training exercise involved more than 2,000 Army Reserve Soldiers from across the country.
"There are more vehicles and personnel on ground than we've seen in a while," said Sgt. 1st Class Panki Miah, 174th Infantry Brigade T/M who served as an inject exercise coordinator for the CSTX. "I've found more range trails and training areas than I ever knew were here."
As the number of deployment missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom continues to reduce, the 174th Infantry Brigade, like much of First Army, is taking on the additional role of supporting the Reserve and National Guard ready phase.
"Our mission is evolving from strictly deployment training to incorporate Rotational Distributed Forces," explained Capt. Michael Castelli, 174th Infantry Brigade Plans Officer. "Although our primary mission remains Deployment Expeditionary Forces training, we are seeing more taskings from First Army Division East to assist the Army Reserve and National Guard with executing their annual training plans."
The recent CSTX at the joint base was the first of several Reserve Component training mission exercises the 174th Infantry Brigade T/Ms are tasked with supporting this year. Come August, the Patriot Brigade is scheduled to travel to Fort Pickett, Va. to support the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, New Jersey Army National Guard and to Fort Drum, N.Y. to train and mentor the 86th IBCT, Vermont Army National Guard.
"Active Component Soldiers plan and execute training routinely," said Castelli. "It's what we do every day. Partnering with the Reserve and Guard to help them get the best training value out of their condensed schedules is only natural."
Part of Miah's job, and other 174th T/Ms, was to ensure the training scenarios or injects requested by the various trainee operations sections were coordinated and executed to standard. Miah served as the link between the embedded O/Cs traveling with the training unit convoys and the opposing forces commonly called OPFOR, who actually initiate the injects on site.
"It's a lot of moving parts out here making sure combat stressors are on time and at the right location," said Miah, in between answering calls on his cell phone and requests on his tactical radio frequency. "With training going on 24-7, it's hectic but we're all here to assist and coach; letting the Soldiers know what they are doing is right."
Training is a performance-oriented, standards-based system, explained Castelli. Developing appropriate scenarios that measure a unit's proficiency at certain mission essential tasks is what drives training at all levels.
Soldiers assigned to Fort Dix have been training and mobilizing other Soldiers for 90 years -- from WWI to today. Camp Dix, as it was once called, was the World War I training ground and demobilization center for the 78th Division. First Army, the 174th Infantry Brigade's higher headquarters, hung its hat here in 1947 when Dix was designated a basic training post.
"Training is a two-way street," added Miah. "Sometimes you learn more from what goes wrong than from always getting it right the first time. This exercise was a good experience for the trainers and the trainees."
Come January and February, the 78th Training Division is scheduled to conduct more readiness exercises at the joint base, requesting continued support from the Patriot Brigade.
Whether units are preparing for missions at home or abroad, the 174th Infantry Brigade, coordinates and manages training to ensure forces are trained, ready and available for the Army to source specific units for specific missions.
"My objective is to make sure things are happening right and there's no violation in the scenario play," assured Miah. "Most important to me is that these Soldiers get the very best training each time."
The 174th Infantry Brigade, part of First Army Division East, mobilizes, trains, validates and deploys Reserve Component units to support overseas military operations. Along with Reserve component units, the division's trainer/mentors prepare and deploy sailors and airmen, along with selected members of the interagency and intergovernmental departments, to provide trained and ready forces across a full-spectrum of operations to regional combatant commanders worldwide.