By Special to GUDONMarch 6, 2014
Army Reserve drill sergeants and Soldiers are integrated into Fort Leonard Wood's 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment's Initial Entry Training mission as part of the Echo Company Model.
Under the Echo Company Model, one of 1-48th Inf. Bn. companies is a Reserve Component Basic Combat Training Company.
U.S. Army Reserve IET cadre members from the USAR 95th Training Division, Fort Sill, Okla., and the 98th Training Div., Rochester, N.Y., provide a company's worth of cadre -- 12 drill sergeants, a command team, and supply and training noncommissioned officers to fill these positions.
The 1-48th Inf. Bn. is the only Fort Leonard Wood battalion to use the ECM and have done so since 2012.
The Reserve component does not fill the company for the entire year, but rather only during the annual training season typically associated with larger training loads experienced at Fort Leonard Wood during the "summer surge."
Additionally, in order to meet their regulatory mandate for two weeks of yearly annual training for every Reserve component Soldier, a 10-week BCT cycle is divided into five 17-day training rotations -- meaning every 17 days there is a changeover in USAR cadre members.
This model also provides the USAR cadre with the opportunity to maximize the number of Reservists able to actually perform their training mission with Soldiers, as opposed to merely training and teaching other cadre members during their one-weekend-a-month-battle assembly training periods.
During 2013, the 1-48th Inf. Bn. rotated and incorporated more than 250 Reserve component cadre members into the unit.
Prior to the beginning of the ECM in 2012, the 108th Training Command mobilized a company for up to a year to fulfill the rotation requirement. The 1st Engineer Brigade, 14th Military Police Bde., and 43rd Adjutant General Bn. will receive some Reserve-component augmentees during the summer training cycles, but not an entire company.
"Over the last two years we've developed a fantastic working relationship with our supporting Reserve Component units from the 95th and 98th Training Divisions," said Maj. Mike Ramsey, executive officer, 1-48th Inf. Bn.
"We are continually impressed with the dedication and professionalism they bring to the training mission in spite of limited training opportunities as compared to their active duty counterparts. Our goal is to incorporate the rotational cadre members so seamlessly that the trainees see the same leadership, expertise, and standards from their drill sergeants regardless of the cadre member?'s component. This is the 'Total Army' concept at its best," Ramsey added.
The 1-48th Inf. Bn. will host three ECM cycles through November, receiving support from 4th Bde., 95th Training Div., Beaver Dam, Wis.; 2nd Bde., 95th Training Div., Vancouver, Wash.; and 4th Bde., 98th Training Div., Buffalo, N.Y.
Reserve training units send their Soldiers to various Training and Doctrine Command installations to fulfill annual training requirements, while providing extra manpower to active-duty units.
However with the complexities of operating an ECM, which would experience complete cadre turnover every two weeks, most units simply slot reservists into their formations in small groups.
Together with active-duty counterparts, Reserve drill sergeants helped to shape more than 2,000 IET Soldiers last year.
One key to success of the 1-48th Inf. Bn. ECM is a balanced mix of active and Reserve Soldiers. Instead of using the ECM as a pure Reserve company, it instead draws on cadre from its four active-duty companies.
By staffing the ECM with a few experienced active Soldiers and slotting incoming Reserve Soldiers to fill the absences, 1-48th Inf. Bn. can conduct three additional cycles during the spring-to-fall surge. That equals training nearly as many Soldiers in nine months as a standard BCT company trains in a full year.
The presence of Reserve drill sergeants ensures that trainees in the Reserve and Army National Guard have access to a wealth of experience and advice on details of service in the Reserve or Guard -- things an active-duty drill sergeant might be unable to provide.
"The privates get to hear from numerous viewpoints . . . sooner or later in the cycle, a Soldier will meet an instructor with whom they can readily identify. This is a great boost to morale," said Staff Sgt. Julie Aymar, 3-385th Inf., 98th Training Division.
The cadre of 1-48th Inf. Bn. and their Reserve counterparts have planned and coordinated to ensure success this year.
"We look forward to another great year with our brothers and sisters in the Reserves. Together we will continue training high-quality Soldiers to fill the ranks of America?'s Army into 2014 and beyond," said Lt. Col. Erik Anderson, 1-48th Inf. Bn. commander.
(Editor's note: Capts. Daniel Maher, Benjamin Fitting, and Rachel Jones of the 1-48th Inf. Bn., contributed to this article.)