By Staff Sgt. Vannessa L. JoseyOctober 26, 2016
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- A devotion started each day of instruction for the First Army Unit Ministry Teams participating in development training here Oct. 17-20.
The training, hosted by First Army Chaplain Col. Jeffrey Zust, UMTs brainstormed to create a more streamlined training process that integrates active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Soldiers.
"First Army hosts the Unit Ministry Teams Development Training twice a year," Zust said. "These events are critical in shaping and understanding how to create the blended force of the three Army components."
This was the first time the chaplains and chaplain assistants met since undergoing a 100-percent personnel change in the past year.
According to Zust, First Army UMTs perform or provide religious requirements to Soldiers and their families, as well as act as observer coach/trainers for Army Reserve and Army National Guard units preparing to deploy.
Zust said he encouraged the UMTs to use lessons learned to focus the training and create synchronized processes for continued success.
"Using the lessons learned will continue to increase the quality of training First Army is known for," Zust said. "This will give a foundation to create more effective trainers on the ground across the total force, increasing the communication between active-duty, National Guard and Reserve Soldiers, as well."
According to Zust, training as a cohesive team will increase a UMT's ability to provide religious support in the real world.
"This training will enhance our force," said Sgt. 1st Class John Griffis, a chaplain assistant with First Army's 157th Infantry Brigade at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. "We are teaching each other and learning from each other's strengths to bridge the capability gaps by a collaborative effort."
"We have the beginning of a more cohesive training team due to this training," said Lt. Col. Scott Boyd, Chaplain for Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment First U.S. Army Reserve Support Command.
"Not only are we more technically and tactically proficient, we are more effective because we now know our counterparts and help train each other on the same steps that we are incorporating in the training for the mobilizing units," Boyd said.
Throughout the training, UMTs shared the need to be intentional with training, due to the limited amount of time units have to mobilize. Although there are approximately 130 items on the UMT mission essential task list, the UMTs focused on creating a list of the five to seven most critical individual tasks they will train.
"When service members are mobilized to deploy, the amount of time is less than it used to be," said Maj. Don Williamson, chaplain for First Army's 5th Armored Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas. "Therefore, we must hone in on the absolute essential tasks so that the unit has more operative- and mission-focused training."
According to Williamson, teaching the same tasks and drills throughout the mobilization process gives UMTs more consistency and solidarity and streamlines the mobilization process for all components.
"This development training brings us together to become a more unified training support element between First Army and … mobilized units," Zust said.