By Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie Widemond, 188th Infantry Brigade Public Affairs October 8, 2013
FORT STEWART Ga. (Oct. 8, 2013) -- Gen. Daniel Allyn, commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, recently met with Army Reserve, Army National Guard and active-duty Soldiers to focus on the future of combat effectiveness of the Total Army team.
"We are continuing an integrated approach to training and readiness," he said, pointing out that there may be Reserve and Guard battalions attached to active duty brigades prior to deployments to be able to train together.
Allyn visited Fort Stewart to observe the Georgia National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, as they conducted a combat arms rehearsal, with the assistance of First Army Division East observer-controller/trainers, known as OC/Ts, in preparation for their upcoming missions both in Afghanistan and in support of U.S. Army Southern Command.
"This says (pointing to his uniform) United States Army. We go where they need us to go, when they need us to go," Allyn said. "We want you to have routine access to other components. I know you have the benefits of working with First Army all through this, and the intent is you'll have First Army and all components of our Army to help you routinely as you train."
The 188th Infantry Brigade, a First Army Division East training brigade, recently provided training and assistance to prepare members of the Georgia National Guard. The unit focuses mainly on mobilization training reserve-component units for deployments around the world. However, with the drawdown in Afghanistan, First Army Division East brigades are increasingly developing relationships with National Guard and Reserve component units and providing readiness assistance much earlier in the Army Force Generation process.
Multi-component training is important, Allyn emphasized, and he said he is committed to ensuring the best "value-training possible."
"Going forward, what you'll see is a lot more training with the active command and in the Reserve component," Allyn said
Lt. Col. Pete Fedak, the 188th Infantry Brigade executive officer, explained the importance of his brigade's OC/Ts.
"The First Army OC/Ts fill a unique niche, in that we liaise between the training unit (48th IBCT), the exercise director, and the installation (3rd Infantry Division/U.S. Army Garrison Fort Stewart), to facilitate high quality training and feedback," said Fedak.
The 48th IBCT's commander, Col. Randall V. Simmons Jr., agreed.
"Our 188th partners have really helped with our training," Simmons said. "The biggest thing they do is help provide an extra set of eyes to our training. To date, we've conducted over 400 STX (situational training exercise) lane iterations and more than 255 live-fire iterations, and there is no way our leaders would be able to cover down and evaluate all that training on their own.
"It is very beneficial to me, as the brigade commander -- and I know to our battalion commanders and even company commanders -- to have those extra eyes out there to give feedback, so we can identify trends and areas of weakness, the things we need to work on," Simmons said.
"The 48th IBCT has clearly done an outstanding job preparing, training, and developing the plan for this current exercise here at Fort Stewart," said Fedak.
According to Lt. Col. James Yount, 1st Battalion, 306th Regiment, 188th Inf. Brigade, his OC/Ts supported the 48th's exercise by providing embedded OC/Ts, who stayed with the companies and platoons from the time the exercise started to the very end.
The 48th's senior enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn Lewis, not only appreciated the embedded OC/Ts, but stressed that importance to his Soldier's training.
"Having the embedded OC/Ts living, working, staying with the same team every day is very important," Lewis stressed. "Obviously these guys (188th OC/Ts) are professional; most of them have been downrange several times, so they have seen this for real -- as have most of my guys. But we all can glean TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) from each other. We all have had different experiences. So having them embedded with the teams and staying with the same team throughout the training is pretty important. If you just show up with a new trainer every day, you can pick every operation a part. You have to know the scope; you have to know the operations order, what is the intent of the mission."
According to Yount, embedded OC/Ts and the training unit form relationships that follow after the training ends.
"We have a reception stage, we have an approach, and then we have follow-through from start to finish and on to the next training event. We want to assist them in any way possible because together, we are more efficient," said Yount.
Lewis agreed and said he hasn't picked up on any animosity between the two units, mainly because of the shared experiences.
"Everyone who has been downrange in the last ten or twelve years has worked with a reserve-component Soldier at some level," Lewis said. "I think there is a mutual respect that comes with chewing on some of the same turf over a period of time. You know no one likes to be graded, but it's not really like grading. I don't get the feeling that they are grading us; we grade ourselves. They are just bringing their experiences to our training, and it always helps to hear different ways to get after a problem."
"You are a part of this great Army of ours. You are an incredibly important part. I appreciate what you do to ensure that you are trained and ready," Allyn concluded.