By Staff Sgt. Lindsey KiblerFebruary 19, 2014
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Feb. 19, 2014) -- It's 8 p.m. and most Soldiers are winding down for the evening, but for a company of Soldiers in 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, the ringing of a phone Feb. 9, delivered the news they would be deploying in the upcoming hours -- the relaxing would have to wait.
The Soldiers of A Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, gathered equipment; drew weapons and ammunition; loaded baggage onto pallets; and verified their personal data before loading vehicles and preparing to execute their mission.
The mission was not an actual deployment but an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise. An EDRE is designed as a realistic way to test the company's standard operating procedures for similar scenarios it may encounter in the future.
Deployments can occur at any time, leaving the deploying unit with little or no time to correct training deficiencies.
Deployable units are required to conduct a periodic EDRE throughout the year in order to maintain readiness standards outlined in Army Field Manual 3-35, Army Deployment and Redeployment.
Companies and battalions train to meet unit and individual training requirements for deployment operations. In addition to A Company, other companies and battalions within the brigade have already conducted or are planning to conduct an EDRE in the upcoming months.
After receiving the call, the Soldiers immediately kicked into high-gear, as they had a short window of time to complete more than 15 tasks that would allow them to be ready to deploy.
"There are a lot of moving pieces to this exercise," said Capt. Abraham Anderson, commander of A Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment. "From the time they were alerted, they have been on the move, preparing to deploy."
EDRE is a part of collective training the company has been preparing for over the previous months. The objective of collective deployment training is to implant the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and abilities so it becomes a reflex activity executed with precision.
Before the company executed its EDRE, its readiness and reaction capabilities were certified by the battalion.
This certification was a testament to the company's ability to be ready to deploy in a quick, and efficient, manner.
"This EDRE is important because it reminds us that this could be any scenario, at any time," said the Bellows Falls, Vt., native said.
The Soldiers, who stayed ahead of their scheduled timeline for the exercise, were packed and ready to roll the convoy of vehicles out before the sun set Feb. 10.
But, as with any exercise, there are lessons to be learned. Those lessons, Anderson said, would be evaluated and incorporated into future training.
"We are going to take this exercise and use it as a place to build from for our sustainment training; use it to refine our SOPs; and continue to ensure our Soldiers are maintaining the most accurate alert rosters-- those are key here," said Anderson.
From another perspective, the exercise was the real-life execution of months-worth of meticulous planning.
"It always looks so much different on paper compared to when you actually get out here and see the Soldiers executing," said Uniontown, Ala., native Maj. Carl Warren, the 3rd ABCT fire support officer planner. "Planning it is one thing, but then you actually see it and sometimes it isn't what you had thought or there are things here and there you would want done differently next time, but that's why we do this -- to catch things."
The exercise was not without challenges, though.
"Keeping everybody motivated has been the biggest challenge," Anderson said. By keeping Soldiers informed, Anderson said the Soldiers remained motivated and looked toward completing each task.
"They (have done) an exceptional job with the exercise. I would say they are ready," Anderson said.
According to Chapter 2, Section 2-27, with FM 3-35, units must identify deployment as a mission essential task, annotate it on their mission essential task list and gain and maintain proficiency.
The company, and battalion, plan to conduct more EDREs throughout the training cycle as a way to incorporate lessons learned and, most importantly, to maintain proficiency.
In the meantime, the Soldiers have proven their preparedness if they are called upon to defend the nation at a moment's notice.