By Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie WidemondApril 10, 2015
FORT STEWART, Ga. - In a small corner of Fort Stewart's expansive training area, the 2nd Battalion, 306th Field Artillery Regiment conducted crew emplacement drills to better understand what they may encounter during the multi-echelon integrated brigade training exercise set to take place at Fort Drum, New York, in June.
"We have a mixed group of 13 series Soldiers working together on crew drills. This was done on purpose because we may encounter units or organizations that may have varying levels of experience with the Howitzer," said Maj. Erik Jorgensen, executive officer for the 2-306th.
The 188th Infantry Brigade observer-coach/trainers and its subordinate units will work jointly with the 205th Infantry Brigade's OC/Ts to advise and assist the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Vermont National Guard, and the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Virginia National Guard during their annual training. The two First Army Division East brigades help National Guard and Reserve units maintain mission readiness as part of the Army Force Generation cycle.
"Over the past ten plus years, our guard and reserve soldiers have been called to fight in afghanistan and iraq as well as other contingencies around the world. As a part of the Total Army concept, we are integrating our forces better so that we can better synchronize when we work side by side during an operation," said Jorgensen.
Being able to see the big picture and how all the pieces fit together under the Army umbrella is part of what Sgt. 1st Class Tory Thomas enjoys about being an OC/T.
"It seems better when you are on the outside looking in, you see everything that is going on," said Thomas. He said that too often crews pigeon-hole themselves and don't see what else is going on outside their section. Because of this the Red Dragons decided to cross-train their Soldiers.
"I never did any 13B (cannon crew member) task, so what this training does is it puts me in a place of seeing what they are doing so that when I see it again, I have a little more knowledge," said the 13D, a fire direction center specialist who calls down mission to the crew members after
receiving information from the forward-observers.
"It gives you a well rounded-view of the battlefield," said Thomas.
For most of June, the OC/Ts of First Army will walk the "battlefield" in Fort Drum providing feedback and assistance with troop leading procedures.
The 116th IBCT has a long history of deployment and is well-versed in what works, however, the focus during the training exercise is returning to the fundamentals of doctrine. This is where the OC/Ts come in. They consistently reference Army doctrine when the training unit raises questions. These doctrinal manuals were introduced to ensure that each soldier, reservist, and guardsman has a common operating picture.
"We want make sure that we are training to a standard, so that when they get called to do a mission, they have been given the tools and resources necessary to ensure mission success," said Jorgensen.
The Army continues to defend the nation's priorities in just about every corner of the globe. A multi-component force displaying a unified front grounded in doctrine is instrumental to the success of that mission.