KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The 773rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST), 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, Soldiers conducted a battle staff ride in Meuse-Argonne, France, to further understand key World War I events, build esprit de corps, and come together in a team-building exercise for professional development at all unit echelons, March 29.The unit commander's intent for the staff ride was to foster professional insight on an area rich in European-American history, enhance unit morale by learning about key leadership on the battlefield and to step outside of the daily workings by coming together in a unit event.Sgt. 1st Class Jason LaRose, the operations non-commissioned officer in charge, organized this staff ride for the professional and historic benefit of the involved Soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers that day. As the first of its kind for the unit, this staff ride involved visiting key sites, and unit personnel briefing a research topic. The Soldiers were given a key player and discussed the respective leader and their impact during WWI in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.Additionally, as a multi-functional team, unit personnel provided discussion on tactical and operational considerations in the areas of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear operations, logistics, medical, communications, operations and mission command."Personally, I saw a need with the WWI, 100th commemoration this year, for us to pay homage to those that served before us in these great battles," said LaRose. "It is important for Soldiers to see and experience what our predecessors did as we visited three battle sites today."The staff ride started with a visit to the Pennsylvania War Memorial in Varennes-en-Argonne, followed by the Montfaucon American Monument and concluded with the Meuse Argonne American Cemetery. The unit also visited the Romagne 14-18 museum in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, which contained many discovered artifacts from the battle sites in the area.
"As one of our Soldiers [in 773rd CST], Sgt. William Haynes said, 'we can never forget history; it allows us to see mistakes from the past, to better our troops in the future,'" said Maj. Bret Barnes, 773rd CST Deputy Commander."This visit allowed [773rd CST members] to see the challenges that WWI Soldiers faced in terms of logistics and communications and still be able to win the war." Barnes added.The staff ride continued with further focus into the Sept. 26 to Nov. 11, 1918 time frame discussing the key leaders, their impacts and visiting the various battle and memorial sites. Briefings included perspectives and information about General John J. Pershing, then Lieutenant Colonel George S. Patton, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Field Marshal Hindenburg, General Erich Ludendorff, and George Marshall, who held the permanent rank of Captain, and the temporary rank of Colonel during this time. By structuring the staff ride in this manner, Soldiers viewed both sides of the battlefield from strategic, operational, and tactical considerations."I did not know what to expect as my first staff ride," said Sgt. Jarrod Davis, 773rd CST Survey Team Chief and Medical Team Member. "It was great getting out of the office and doing something together with the unit as a whole.""This humbling experience groomed me as an NCO by paying homage to those that served before us. I will look back on this experience and appreciate it, as the Army has such a rich history," Davis added.