By Sgt. 1st Class Mark Hanson, 35th Infantry DivisionMay 22, 2017
FORT HOOD, Texas - Part of remaining a ready and resilient force, sometimes requires a shift back to basics, a review of those common core tasks and fundamental skills that transform citizens into Soldiers. In preparation for their upcoming mission in the Levant and Persian Gulf regions, 35th Infantry Division Soldiers from both Kansas and Missouri National Guard, trained to refresh and hone those basic soldier skills during their pre-mobilization training.
"This is my 5th deployment, but the first time I ever had to go back and do squad tactics," said Staff Sgt. Jason Prock, a 35th Targeting NCOIC. "It brings back standardization, brings us back to the basics that most of us have forgotten since those days in basic training."
To accomplish this extensive training and skill review, both Kansas and Missouri sent their Pre-mobilization Training, Assistance, and Evaluation (PTAE) teams to prepare the division Soldiers for the mission ahead.
"We've worked with Missouri PTAE before and we have a really good working relationship," said Sgt. 1st Class Justin Zimmerman, a Kansas PTAE team member.
Although both states' PTAE teams strictly adhere to the Regionally Aligned Forces Training Guidance put out by the U.S. Army Forces Command, they both have different methods and ways of training certain aspects of the required material.
"So coming together and creating the right training solution can be a challenge," said Zimmerman. "But it also always allows us, as trainers, the opportunity to learn new teaching techniques and ultimately give even better training to the Soldiers."
A few of the skill and tasks reviewed throughout the two week-long training included; weapons qualification, drivers training, combatives, first-aid, warrior tasks, land navigation, and self-development training.
"We have individuals who are experts in each one of these fields," said Cpt. Jason Price, Headquarters and Service Company commander. "We consistently see individuals lend their additional experience and knowledge beyond what the basic course supplied."
"The 35th has been great, and isn't exactly your typical unit going through PTAE," said Zimmerman. "There's every walk of life from engineers, to field artillery, to lawyers, so you have this broad mix of knowledge that everyone gets to share from."
Although Soldiers attend monthly training drills at their home stations, focus is more often-than-not on job specific tasks. Sgt. Jacob Paxton, from the Missouri Army National Guard, with 35th ID's geospace section said, "I enjoyed doing the hands on portion- being out in the field, because we don't get to do that every day."
"I think PTAE helps to strengthen team and unit cohesion, and serves to set expectations and standards for the mission ahead," said Maj. Jordan Clark, a Kansas Army National Guard member with 35th ID's Aviation section.
Unit cohesion and integration of Kansas and Missouri is essential for the 35th's mission success overseas. Merging a unit that has historically been split among multiple armories across separate states poses a set of unique challenges in and of itself.
"I think one challenge has been combining troops and not knowing all the faces in the formation," said Cpt. Price. "But it's surprising how quickly that gets resolved and how quickly you start to get to know the people in your ranks."