By Staff Sgt. Nazly Confesor, First Army Public AffairsMay 18, 2016
FORT HUNTER-LIGGETT, Calif. -- "As a motor operator transporter, this is all new to me, but Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Hintz (First Army, Observer Coach/Trainer) has been providing us guidance. This exercise gives us the opportunity to refresh our military occupational specialty skills as well as Soldier skills in a combat, training environment," said Staff Sgt. Patrick Mason, acting first sergeant for the 325th Transportation Company out of Brockton, Massachusetts.
The 31-year-old Lowell, Massachusetts native is among the 3,000 Army Reserve, National Guard and active-duty Soldiers, who participated as a support unit in this year's Warrior Exercise 91-16-02 at Fort Hunter-Liggett, California, April 28-May 14.
WAREX provides Soldiers with a variety of combat environment simulations and challenging training to better prepare reserve component forces for potential contingency operations. Sustainment units such as the 325th and approximately 80 units, comprised of active-duty, Army Reserve and National Guard from across the United States, participated in this year's exercise.
The 91st Training Support Division, located here, hosted the exercise by providing a training platform for combat support and combat service support units. It partnered with the 75th Training Division headquartered in Houston, Texas, the 181st Infantry Brigade headquartered in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and the Medical Readiness and Training Command located in San Antonio, Texas, to support this exercise and provide OC/Ts. WAREX 91-16-02 was the second training exercise for the 84th Training Command, out of Fort Knox, Kentucky.
"The responsibility of the 91st training division is to create a realistic training environment for the unit commanders and be aligned with the commander's training objectives," said Col. Mark Bartholf, deputy exercise director for WAREX 91-16-02. "WAREX is more geared toward individual training and small unit training with a field training exercise."
First Army's 181st Infantry Brigade provided approximately 100 of its OC/Ts to facilitate, assist and evaluate National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers and to carry out First Army's mission of improving reserve-component readiness and building partnerships with National Guard and Reserve units.
"Our primary mission was to evaluate Army Reserve firefighter teams from four different states," said Lt. Col. Frank Victor, battalion commander of 1st Battalion, 351st Regiment (Brigade Support Battalion), 181st Infantry Brigade. "Additionally, we have a partner unit with the 325th Transportation Company out of Brockton, Massachusetts where I assigned one of the OC/Ts teams to share their knowledge and bring subject matter experts to the Soldiers to align with the commander's training objectives."
When asked about the partnership with the 325th, Victor stated that the 325th Soldiers want to learn from the OC/Ts and the OC/Ts want to share their wealth of knowledge.
Training described by Victor reflects the planning, the partnership, and the collaboration with active-duty and reserve components in these types of exercises. During WAREX, most of the training scenarios also give an opportunity for OC/Ts and units to learn from one another.
"As we gain experience in our own training environment series, the divisions are coming to us with a lot of experience because they do this across all of the different divisions. The 181st helped us by providing the best OC/T practices," said Bartholf.
"The 181st was able to align themselves with the proper MOS qualifications at the Soldiers' level that assists the 91st in making sure they have the right skill sets at the right level/rank in order to accurately assess these combat support and combat service units. The partnership with has been fantastic," he said.
As Bartholf mentioned, the majority of the 181st OC/Ts were partnered with units that were associated to the appropriate unit and MOS level.
For Hintz, a first time OC/T assigned to 1st Battalion, 351st Regiment (Brigade Support Battalion), 181st Infantry Brigade, he said the time he spent coaching and partnering with the 325th Transportation Company rather than observing them gave him the opportunity to get to know the Soldiers and do one-on-one coaching. Hintz also provided his experience as a motor transport operator.
"I enjoy coaching and teaching and this has been a great opportunity. Training exercises such as WAREX gives us the opportunities to watch the 325th and how they interact in a combat training environment," said Hintz. "OC/Ts see what they are deficient in and bring our subject matter expertise to bear and provide additional knowledge that they don't learn during drill weekends. Over the last two weeks we have spent time with them, we have watched them grow and become more proficient in their skills."
The 181st Infantry Brigade and the other eight training support brigades within First Army, provides the critical mission of partnering with Army National Guard and Army Reserve units throughout the continental United States, providing advice, assistance, and training support to commanders and Soldiers to ensure reserve-component forces can fight and win in a complex world. First Army's top priority is building and sustaining readiness for the reserve-component formations and the Army's Total Force Policy.
First Army mobilizes, trains, deploys and demobilizes all Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve forces throughout the continental United States, providing trained and ready forces for diverse missions worldwide. First Army is comprised of two divisions: First Army Division East, located at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and First Army Division West, located at Fort Hood, Texas.