By Staff Sgt. Kathleen V. PolancoSeptember 26, 2016
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (September 26, 2016) - The command and staff of the 7th Army Training Command went on a staff ride to the 72nd anniversary of Operation Market Garden in Holland from Sept. 19 to 23.
The purpose of the ride was for the staff to gain a greater appreciation for a previous generation of warfighters; examine and reflect on tactics, techniques, and procedures used during the battle; and take advantage of the four days to get to know each other.
"I think staff rides are meant to accomplish a few things," said Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Johnson, the Command Sergeant Major of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center. "It's meant to build cohesion within a unit's staff. It's also meant to broaden you on operations that have happened in the past."
The 40 staff members on the ride included the commander of the 7ATC, Department of the Army (DA) civilians, senior noncommissioned officers and officers from a variety of branches such as Field Artillery, Public Affairs, Chaplain Corps, Judge Advocate General's Corps, Cavalry, etc.
"We have a variance of people here from lieutenants to very senior officers and retired DA civilians, so I think it's a great chance for us to learn from each other, learn from our past, but more importantly turn around and apply that to what it is that we need to do as part of the 7ATC," said Brig. Gen. Tony Aguto, the commander of 7ATC.
Although the staff members fall under the same headquarters, 7ATC, they're not always able to meet each other face to face, therefore many of them met for the first time on the staff ride.
"It's putting a face to an email or phone call," said 1st Lt. Tom Boggiano, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment.
Boggiano has been in the 7ATC for the past three years and recognized only a handful of faces out of the group.
Like Boggiano, Johnson met many of the staff members for the first time as well.
"Being at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, I don't really interact with the staff very much, so the ride gives me a better appreciation for what my higher headquarters staff does as well as getting to know them on a personal level," Johnson said.
As the ride continued over the four-day period, the staff grew closer together.
The first day, the bus was filled with meet and greet chatter and silences in between. By the end of the third day, the bus was filled with many different conversations and the silences were replaced with laughter.
"They're not just a rank or a position anymore," said Johnson. "They're a person."
Camaraderie and team building was one of the most significant aspects of the ride according to Aguto.
"What is significant is that we are all together building relationships, plus we get to see the ground which makes it a little more relevant to people."
The stops at the battle grounds of the operation not only brought out discussions among the staff but allowed them to bounce ideas off of each other.
"The discussion that happened where maybe someone could have done something different here or there really makes you think more tactically and even more strategically," said Johnson. "It makes you think why things were done the way they were and it's hearing everyone else's thoughts that helps to kind of bring it all together at the end."
As Boggiano listened and engaged in the conversation, he was able to understand more than just the daily operations at the tactical level.
"I've learned that there are a lot of very forward thinking and intelligent officers and noncommissioned officers that understand more of the pie than just my piece," said Boggiano. "Being able to see the bigger aspect of things is very eye opening. And understanding the strategic piece will help to kind of mold the tactical plan and decision making in the future."
Among the pro-active discussions and team building from the ride, the staff was able to take a few moments to reflect on the past as they visited the monuments and memorials along the way.
"What I've learned is how much American Soldiers can affect the lives across Europe, across our coalition, by doing what it is that we do and the traditions those actions have taken over the decades is very humbling," said Aguto.
The staff participants not only gained a greater appreciation for a previous generation of American Warfighters but for each other as well.
"Not only was the staff ride necessary, I think it was very successful," said Aguto. "I think people are getting out of it what they need to or what they want to get out of it."