VICKSBURG, Miss. - The 391st and 926th Engineer Battalions facilitated the training of more than 275 Soldiers on Army Warrior Tasks focusing on troop leading procedures during Operation Iron Castle Ready Warrior 2014, Aug. 3-16 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
"What we termed it as was back-to-the-basics," said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael T. Boyd, senior enlisted leader, 391st Engineer Battalion. "It was kind of a back-to-the basics focus for the Soldiers on individual warrior tasks and battle drills."
The event trained multiple company-sized elements from the 926th Engineer Brigade, according to Lt. Col. Steven D. Hayden, commander, 391st Engineer Battalion.
"It was diverse in company make-up and I think ultimately everybody pulled together and went around to provide some great training for Soldiers," said Hayden, an Atlanta resident. "We had over 80 trainers in the event and almost 300 participating, so we're pretty excited overall and think it was a success. I think motivation of the Soldiers walking away was very high."
The 926th Engineer Brigade commanding general, Brig. Gen. Lewis Irwin, envisioned and laid out his thought of training on warrior tasks and battle drills, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Michael T. Boyd, senior enlisted leader, 391st Engineer Battalion.
While the vision was Irwin's, the execution and selection of tasks was left up to the 391st Engineer Battalion.
"We went out and took a look at Fort Jackson and what it had to offer, just taking into consideration we are going back to the basics," said Boyd, a Bryan, Texas, resident. "This is something that should be done during a normal battle assembly. However, at a normal battle assembly, you don't always have the training aids and the training facilities you need to conduct a realistic training event: For example, a true land navigation course, a shoot house to where you can fight and clear a room, an area that's wooden to go out and create your hasty fighting positions. Basically we took all those into consideration into what we thought would be important to the Soldiers: Survivability on the battlefield as an individual. That's how we selected the warrior tasks and battle drills we wanted to train on."
The individual and team-level training included resilience, leadership training and development, a fitness challenge, shooting tasks, movement, communication and survival.
In resiliency training, Soldiers were given classroom instruction on three topics: Sexual harassment and assault response and prevention, nutrition and resiliency. These focused on the impact of sexual assault on the Soldier, team and community, the American Plate for planning and improving their nutritional lifestyle and Master Resiliency Training to help them bounce back from challenges they face in life.
Leadership training looked at troop leading procedures, which Soldiers were evaluated on at each task. To evaluate this, instructors issued verbal or written operations orders and observed the squad leaders' reactions and performance.
The Leadership Reaction Course evaluated performance of missions through obstacles. Another obstacle event was the Warrior Fitness Challenge, a timed event of Physical Readiness Training exercises.
The Soldiers also participated in marksmanship fundamentals and qualification on the M16A2 and M4 rifles as part of their shoot tasks. After ensuring they were proficient in the fundamentals, the Soldiers participated in a scenario-driven "shoot or don't shoot" mission. They also expanded their shoot tasks by entering and clearing rooms in four-man squads.
In their movement task, Soldier conducted dismounted movements including moving dismounted, movement under fire and movement as a team and squad. Another portion of this training was land navigation in which Soldiers honed their map reading and navigated through wooded terrain using a map, compass and protractor.
The task of communicating was evaluated through the setup and use of a secure-network radio. They also trained in first aid as part of survival.
Conducting this training was important because for most of these Soldiers, the facilities needed are not available during a normal training weekend.
"We take it for granted that training at company level is being done to the proper standard and what we learned from this event is we are conducting training at company level, but not quite to the task, condition and standards we should be," said Boyd. "A lot of it based again on the troop facilities not being available at the local Reserve centers."
The event was also essential for increasing awareness of the Soldiers for future missions.
"The more knowledgeable your individual Soldiers are in their warrior tasks and skills, the more prepared your Soldiers are for future deployments," said Boyd.
Boyd also hopes this training will be passed on by the Soldiers who participated in the event.
"What I hope they took away is they became more proficient in their individual warrior tasks and battle drills, but also that they gained confidence in the map reading. I hope it was a team-building experience for them," said Boyd. "I hope what they took away was the troop leader process for relying on their Soldiers and having a successful mission and being able to take that back to the unit and implement tasks, conditions and standards and troop leading procedures at the unit level."
The future of this event is uncertain and is being evaluated for the possibility of becoming an annual training event. But that doesn't stop Boyd from seeing its potential in establishing groundwork for units in the reset year of the Army Force Generation cycle, a five-year training cycle to prepare units for mobilization and possible deployment.
"I think it was a really good exercise, and I think, as the future of the Army evolves with reduction in fund, this is something that is not a great cost and can be done at a local training facility or Army installation nearby," said Boyd. "I think it's something the units in their reset years could consider doing as part of their training."