By Sgt. 1st Class Gary WitteAugust 5, 2014
FORT JACKSON, S.C. - It's a return to fundamentals for U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers at the Regional Readiness Training Exercise in Georgia and South Carolina this month.
During deployments, Soldiers don't always get assigned to tasks that match their specialties. Artillery gunners might escort convoys while cooks might be placed on base security. Even during training events, troops can be placed in standardized scenarios unrelated to their military occupations.
Starting Aug. 2, the 642nd Regional Support Group will lead a two-week annual training event at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and Fort Stewart, Georgia, tailored to those occupations. Almost 700 Soldiers from across the southeastern United States will take part in the exercise known as R2TE.
Col. Tucker Wilson of Alexander City, Alabama, the 642nd Regional Support Group commander, said the exercise is designed to provide these troops with relevant training in a tactical environment. This will allow Soldiers to improve their readiness and work on their mission specialties while on an active duty post.
"It makes sure Soldiers sharpen their individual skills," Wilson said. "This allows our Soldiers to get back to the basics of what they were trained to do when they joined the Army."
A dozen units, including quartermaster, human resources and transportation companies, will participate under two task forces at the bases. Events include weapons qualifications, driver training, recovery operations, physical training tests, mounted land navigation, medical screenings and reacting to contact classes.
The operation will culminate in two separate 72-hour tactical field exercises.
Wilson said transportation units will conduct driving missions, quartermaster units will work in military warehouses and even the cooks will be making meals for their fellow Soldiers the whole time.
Because the units will conduct the events as a team, Wilson said it should help their cohesion.
"To me, it's going to boost morale," he said.
Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Zimmerman, command sergeant major for the 642nd Regional Support Group, said in the 1980s that the Army lived by the philosophy that "everything is training and training is everything."
"They took their role of making Soldiers and units proficient in the core tasks of being able to shoot, move and communicate to survive in combat very seriously," he said. "We have allowed ourselves to become accustomed to showing up at a training site and having someone else - another unit altogether or sometimes even contractors - train our Soldiers."
Now with the drawdown of deployed forces as well as a drawdown of personnel and resources, Zimmerman said the Army will return to this training philosophy, using every waking opportunity to train individual and collective tasks.
The 642nd Regional Support Group is one of five subordinate units reporting to the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) in Orlando, Florida. The 642nd Regional Support Group has command and control of U.S. Army Soldiers throughout the southeastern United States in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi. It is comprised of 16 Army Reserve units.
The 642nd Regional Support Group, based in Decatur, Georgia, was called for duty in 2007 to deploy in support Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. It deployed again in 2011 in support of Operation New Dawn.