By Staff Sgt. Ian M. KummerApril 11, 2017
JOINT BASE McGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- More than 4,000 Army Reserve and active-duty Soldiers braved below-freezing temperatures at Warrior Exercise 78-17-01, a two-week event that started March 18.
First Army's 4th Cavalry Brigade, stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky, deployed nearly 700 observer coach/trainers and support staff to the WAREX. Divided into teams, the OC/Ts ventured into austere training areas to link up with their partnered Army Reserve leaders.
The WAREX matched as closely as possible a real-life combined-arms operation. The 365th Engineer Battalion leaped into action at numerous construction sites. The 442nd Quartermaster Company established laundry and shower facilities across the area of operations. The 660th Ordnance Company issued blank ammunition cartridges to hundreds of their fellow Soldiers. Troops from the 200th Military Police Command established entry control points and conducted simulated detainee operations.
Consisting of trained Soldiers who are also civilian professionals, Reserve units provide a unique range of skill-sets to an Army operation. Master Sgt. Rob Pike, a senior construction noncommissioned officer with 1-409th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 4th CAV, has served for more than 28 years, both in the active-duty component and the Reserve.
"Reserve personnel bring a lot to the fight," Pike said. "In a construction atmosphere, a lot of those individuals could be project managers, then they come here as Soldiers with that skill and knowledge set."
Not all Reserve Soldiers have civilian careers that "match" their military occupations. Staff Sgt. Christopher Glass, a construction engineering supervisor with the 358th Engineer Company, based out of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, serves as a police officer in his local community. He finds this civilian work experience helpful in professional mentorship of his junior Soldiers.
"I have to work with the public," Glass said. "I approach [Soldier discipline] civilly,"
Glass also credits his police training for his ability to perform in a tactical environment -- a skill set that came in handy when his platoon spotted a simulated improvised explosive device during the WAREX.
"We are definitely learning to adapt and overcome," Glass said. "This is a mission we've personally never done. Coming out here with open minds, we definitely found a way to succeed at what we're doing and move forward."
Perhaps the most important training value of a WAREX is brushing up on basic tactics, techniques and procedures. For Capt. Matthew Sherwood, the recently appointed commander of the 382nd Engineer Company (Sapper), based out of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, this was his first time taking his Soldiers into the field.
"We're really looking to get some valuable training here and push the limits of what the OC/Ts can provide us," Sherwood said. "I look forward to enabling our young officers of the company, as well as our junior enlisted, to step into leadership roles and get that practice executing their mission."
Pocatello, Idaho, resident Spc. William Cunningham IV, an ammunition specialist in the 660th Ordnance Company, believes the WAREX will better prepare him for his deployment to Afghanistan later this year.
"After two weeks of [training] I'll have a better idea of what to do in a more austere environment," Cunningham said. "So I think this is really good for us because it will help us train for an environment where we might not have everything that we will need."