FORT BLISS, TEXAS – “The Army is asking for something more than just you providing particular needs” stated Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Ken Harris, the 32d Army Air and Missile Defense Command Chaplain while addressing chaplains and religious affairs specialists from across the division during the 32d’s unit ministry team training here at Fort Bliss, Texas Mar. 29 -- Apr. 1.
The training, led by Harris, focused on the Army’s people first priorities while incorporating team building initiatives such as the 6.2-mile hike that took place at Chuck Heinrich Memorial Park in El Paso, Texas. Throughout the hike breakout sessions were conducted along the route to discuss topics such as Army Leadership, Suicide Prevention, Army Values and Financial Readiness.
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert J. Walker, 11TH ADA "Imperial" Brigade Command Sergeant Major, delivered a few opening remarks to the chaplain teams in attendance ahead of the hike. Walker touched on the importance of taking care of our Soldiers stating “When the Chief of Staff of the Army changed his priorities to ‘people first’ I think that’s right because without our people without our battle buddies we can’t do anything.”
As part of the week’s training the group also conducted the Army’s latest combat fitness test, ACFT 3.0, which allows Soldiers to select either the leg tuck or plank test. While the ACFT is not a measure of spiritual fitness it did allow the unit ministry teams to bond as well as strengthen their confidence in taking the test.
Brig. Gen. Dave Stewart, 32d AAMDC Commanding General, also took the time to speak to the chaplains and religious affairs specialists during the training saying he appreciated the groups passion and their ability to help our Soldiers spiritually. “The health of our Air Defense Artillery (ADA) force is critical right now…and I’m pretty confident that our Chaplains can help assist our Soldiers with their spiritual wellness” stated Stewart.
In addition to the team building events the unit ministry teams also discussed topics such as understanding Army strategy, operation orders production and Tactical Standing Operating Procedures (TACSOP). Covering these topics allows the UMTs to become more proficient in their roles as chaplains and allows them to be better prepared to support their mission and commander’s back at their respective units.
Each brigade unit ministry team also led a session during the week’s training. The unit ministry team assigned to 11th ADA Brigade shared their lessons learned from their recent deployment to the Middle East, which benefits the group at large as the other UMTs may rotate into theater during their time assigned under the 32d AAMDC.
The demand and need for spiritual support is crucial for our Air Defense Soldiers especially as the need for ADA operations increases across the globe. Whether coping with stress, addressing a loss or simply seeking guidance chaplains across our formations remain ready to help our Soldiers stay mission focused and help our Army maintain our “People First” priority.