Operation Ready Warrior teaches adaptability, leadership
By Cheryl PhillipsSeptember 22, 2020
Army Reserve Soldiers learned how to adapt when integrating COVID-19 safety guidelines into training during Operation Ready Warrior at Fort McCoy.During Army Warrior Tasks training, Soldiers in six-person fire teams went through scenario-based lanes while wearing face masks during 90-degree temperatures and the heat index reaching 100 degrees or more.The Soldiers with the 993rd Transportation Medium Truck Co., based in Lakeland and Palatka, Fla., learned how to communicate with their higher headquarters using situation reports. They also completed a nine-line medical report on an injured team member. They gained real-world experience during a scenario that saw them interact with local nationals, respond to an improvised explosive device in the road, and react under enemy fire while on patrol through the woods of Fort McCoy.The observer controller/trainer reminded the Soldiers that everyone is a sensor; if they see something, they should say something. That’s why communication was stressed, not only with higher but with each other.Pfc. Alexander Stone described the OPW training as crawl, walk, run. “There’s a lot of live-action training here. It’s faster paced than what we’re used to at our unit,” he said.A member of the Army Reserve for four years, Stone said there is a lot of repetition during the training, which reinforces key tasks. “I’m soaking in as much information as I can,” he said.The wheeled mechanic said he has learned to adjust despite the COVID-19 requirements. “The virus isn’t something we can’t fight,” he said. “Staying 6 feet apart, wearing masks — we have to adapt. We learn to work through the precautions” of COVID-19.Stone said he likes the leadership roles he’s assumed during the training. In his civilian life, Stone is working toward a degree in cybersecurity at Florida Southwest State College, where he’s in his second year.The best part of the training “is the sense of accomplishment. We’re going to need the training if deployed,” Stone said.Sgt. Bryce Dickerson said the training is concentrated into a short two weeks. “We’ve trained on new weapons qualifications and the new Army Combat Fitness Test, along with lanes training. It’s good training that we usually don’t get at the unit,” he said. The training also “gives younger Soldiers the opportunity to step up and get into a leadership role.”The wheeled vehicle mechanic said he likes passing on his knowledge to younger Soldiers. “Great (noncommissioned officers) have pushed me to be better in the past,” he said, and it’s something he’s now doing with his fellow unit Soldiers during ORW.Dickerson also adapted to a COVID-19 environment. “This is a new normal that we need to learn to live with. This makes you realize that you have to be ready for whatever comes next,” he said.Unit readiness is enhanced as a result of ORW, with pre-mobilization being the next level. “The training is helping us get ready for the next phase,” Dickerson said.