By Staff Sgt. Darron Salzer, First Army Division EastDecember 5, 2016
FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Soldiers from First Army Division East's 4th Cavalry Multifunctional Training Brigade recently conducted a refresher and recertification training event here for observer coach/trainers in the organization.
The goal of the multi-day event was two-fold: first, ensure OC/Ts comply with a First Army mandate to maintain their capability to teach, coach and mentor deploying Army Reserve and Army National Guard units effectively and, second, have OC/Ts experience firsthand what it's like to be a reserve-component Soldier receiving that mentorship.
Sgt. 1st Class David Richardson, a senior OC/T from 1st Battalion, 409th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 4th Cavalry MFTB, said his unit conducts their recertification every six months to ensure they are hitting that First Army mandate.
"Recertification is the commander's analysis of the [OC/Ts] that work within his unit to confirm that they posses both the doctrinal and tactical knowledge to observe Reserve or Guard forces during their mobilization and annual training exercises," said Richardson, who was observing the unit's newest OC/Ts during the event.
"The primary objective is for the OC/Ts being evaluated to observe the receipt of the operation order, the troop leading procedures and execution of the mission in real time," he said.
That's the key to developing as a trainer and mentor, Richardson added.
"You can simulate it, you can discuss it, but having [OC/Ts] put themselves in a position to observe and evaluate a task is important," he said.
To provide OC/Ts the ability to observe a unit in real time, Soldiers from 1st Bn., 409th BEB conducted a tactical convoy, reacted to an IED strike, tactically evaluated a casualty and called for a medical evacuation.
"Those are the tasks that the units we are training to send to combat need to have, and it also doesn't hurt anything to keep in practice ourselves," said Sgt. 1st Class Danielle Hart, an OC/T from 1st Bn., 409th BEB.
Hart added, "It was really valuable getting the practice of going through the tasks as a non-combat [military occupational specialty] Soldier."
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Gonzalez, an OC/T and the noncommissioned officer in charge of communications and information technology for 1st Bn., 409th BEB, agreed.
"Being a part of the [reinforcement training unit] during the recertification of OC/Ts really helps you to know what to look for and makes you a better OC/T overall," Gonzalez said.
"I feel that anyone who is an OC/T, as part of their certification, should have to execute a lane as a member of an RTU just to get that experience: seeing and thinking about the stuff that goes into mission planning," he said.
"Not only do you have to understand how to teach someone to execute that task, how to observe them going through the task … the way that they prepare the systems and processes according to doctrine … you have to understand how to perform the task yourself," he said.
Richardson said knowing how to execute a task not only makes for a better-equipped OC/T, it also positively affects the quality of the training and mentorship a reserve component unit receives when they are going through their annual or pre-mobilization training cycle.
"When you are vested in the training, like we are, it really does have a ripple effect," he said.
"As an active-duty Soldier, I have got an entire year -- a whole career -- to train on specific tactical tasks that I'm expected to execute, whereas the National Guard and Reserve have a very finite time," he said.
Being knowledgeable, professional and having the able to articulate doctrine are what
Richardson said make for a proficient OC/T and maximize the time OC/Ts have with an RTU.
"I truly believe that that is what First Army does," he said. "I believe we make a difference."