By Sgt. Matt KuzaraOctober 2, 2017
CAMDEN, S.C.-- The strongest military in the world is engaged in suppressing an insur-gency determined to kick out the invaders. The rag-tag insurgents have survived by hit and run tactics and wearing down the enemy. The year is not 2017, rather it is 1780, and the hard-pressed American patriots are struggling against the mighty British.
Back in the present, a group of soldiers from U.S. Army Central gather on what remains of the Battle of Camden, 29 Sep., in Camden, S.C. as part of the USARCENT Staff Ride to learn how our military ancestors came to win the independence of the Unit-ed States despite repeated hardships and losses.
The lessons began at the site of the British encampment where the participants learned about the British strategy for the southern theater of the war. From there they continued on to several sites important to the battle.
"We went to Rugeley's Mill where the American assembly area was, and then ended up at the site of the Battle of Camden," said Bryan Hilferty of the Commander's Initiatives Group. "The point of all of this for the headquarters is to look at the strategic and operational level of war."
When the Staff Ride arrived at the battlefield site the participants traced out how the battle unfolded by roleplaying as the two forces. They showed how the Continentals collapsed under the pressure of the well-trained British regulars, as they displayed how the battle unfolded.
The chance to meet and learn about the other participants was one of the most im-portant take-a-ways from the day, as well as the lessons learned by the Staff Ride. In fact, building camaraderie was a stated goal of the Staff Ride.
"In the building that we work in everybody is compartmentalized, and I have only met about a third of the people in this group, said Lt. Col. Jared Wilson, Future Opera-tions Planner, "and now I'm getting to know everyone else. So now when we go back to the cubicles we can rely more on these new relationships to get things done."
The importance of building these relationships seems self-evident, yet it proved to also be a lesson learned for the history of the Battle of Camden. Leaders, knowing almost nothing about each other or the mission showed its effect in the American loss at Camden. For USARCENT, this is a lesson taken to heart by its Commander.
"I know that we've got some pretty talented people here today. I know that the folks that make this organization run are here today," said USARCENT's Commander, Lt. Gen. Michael Garrett. "You know the hardest part about leading is that the higher you go the harder it is to connect with the most important people in your formation, and I wanted to come here to connect with you."
If the old saying is true 'those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it', then USARCENT's Staff Ride shows how the organization and it's people will not make the same mistakes.