By Mrs. Martha Yoshida (Leonard Wood)June 11, 2015
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (June 11, 2015) -- More than 100 newly commissioned Army lieutenants tested their leadership skills during a joint regimental training exercise Friday.
Active, Reserve and National Guard officers, who attended the Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Leonard Wood, had a rare chance to participate in a capstone exercise combining the U.S. Army Engineer, Military Police and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Schools.
The scenario for the day-long exercise started with a combined briefing at Training Area 221 and proceeded to TA 247, where a mock village with a suspected chemical processing lab was staged, followed by a decontamination station at Maneuver Area 22 and exercise evaluation at TA 221.
The goal was for students to learn to work together, plan and lead in order to successfully coordinate for engineers to clear the route, military police to secure the site and CBRN professionals to support the joint force with decontamination.
Before heading out, students and cadre discussed everything from contingency plans to safety messages about staying hydrated and checking for ticks.
"This consolidated exercise is potentially what we would see in a real situation," said Brig. Gen. Maria Gervais, U.S. Army CBRN School commandant, who observed a portion of the exercise. "These scenarios are very realistic. It provides a great training opportunity for each and every one of us -- all three regiments -- as we're doing our mission."
Course instructors added simulated special effects along the route to include artillery, hand grenades and explosives to keep officers vigilant.
"It's good for the students," said Capt. David Conklin, Company A, 84th Chemical Battalion, 3rd Chemical Brigade Small Group Training instructor. "They are young officers just coming in. They've been in the Army three months. They haven't had a lot of exposure to what other branches do."
"This exercise is good for students to get experience with other units, learn how to work with other units and how they can assist other units in their mission," Conklin, a 25-year Army veteran and Putnam County, New York, native, said.
Students experienced additional challenges in a joint training environment.
"The biggest difference with the joint exercise is you need a lot more patience because you are not just on your time frame, you are on everybody else's, so it takes longer and requires more preparation," said 2nd Lt. Stephen Davis, BOLC student and Newark, Delaware, native. "Everybody does everything different. With a big National Guard class, people talk differently from their home stations."
"It seems like it's going well. Hopefully they'll continue this in the future," Davis added.
Capt. John Brost, Military Police BOLC team chief, said the mission went longer than expected due to increased coordination and planning.
"With over 100 lieutenants, and everyone wanting to contribute, it lengthened the planning process," Brost said. "For many of the lieutenants, this was also their first training exercise, and the first multi-school exercise in many years. So, even small group leaders/instructors had to understand each others' capabilities."
Brost, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native, said, overall, the exercise was a success.
"All of the schools were able to demonstrate their core competencies and disciplines, and highlight how the three branches operate together to preserve and protect the force," Brost said. "I was impressed with the coordination and planning that took place by the lieutenants of all three schools and by their performance on each objective after getting minimal sleep as well as enduring the heat and humidity for a six-hour mission, sometimes in MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) Level 4. It was both a value added and motivating training event, and is a training partnership that should be considered for a permanent basis."
BOLC student 2nd Lt. Michael Defleice, a CBRN decontamination platoon sergeant with the National Guard in Oahu, Hawaii, added, "This is the first time they've done this with all three schools combined. So, we're part of history here. We'll build some trust in each other and figure out what each specific branch does and what they bring to the table in an operation."
Just working together builds trust and cohesiveness, he said.
"As a BOLC student, the eventual goal is to become a platoon leader, that's what this is training us to do," Defleice, a Cleveland, Ohio, native, said. "A lot of us got that experience today."