ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Illinois - “Welcome to Arlington Heights. I know you will find the time with us useful and beneficial,” said Col. Donald Anderson, Chief of Staff, 85th Support Command, who welcomed 21 First Army, Division West command teams and staffs across four brigades to the annual Battalion Command Team Training event.
The BCTT event was held at the 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command headquarters and informed command teams on the nuances within the multi-component relationship that the 85th USARSC shares with First Army.
“The goal is to orient new and existing commanders to the processes, procedures and key goals they need to make the command successful,” explained Col. Mike Magill, G 3-7, 85th USARSC.
Master Sgt. Katie Nelson, command career counselor for the 85th USARSC, was one of many section staff members who gave presentations addressing critical information and guidance that supports command teams in their roles.
“It’s important they know the roles of the staff sections and that they know who is there to support them,” said Nelson.
While some participants were not able to attend the training event when they initially took command, they found value in the opportunity to attend now.
“This is my first BCTT. I think it’s imperative we get the new leaders here sooner,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Chasity Rosales, Command Sergeant Major, 2-382nd Mustangs, 120th Infantry Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.
“Putting the faces with the names for the resources we need at the battalion level has been very helpful,” said Rosales. “They showed me the processes for schools and the second and third order effects. Those explanations are important to work as a team, so we are not putting undue pressure on our support staff for last minute action.”
Each year the BCTT is conducted to bring in as many incoming command teams and allow them to network with staffs, understand key priorities and allow them to strengthen the multi-component relationship between the commands. This year’s BCTT brought additional value as the two previously scheduled BCTT events were conducted virtually due to COVID 19 restrictions.
“The command teams have expressed a greater ability to build knowledge and develop relationships with staffs by being here in-person,” said Col. Stacy Cordell, Commander, 85th USARSC. “It’s a great opportunity to meet all the battalion command teams, re-emphasize Army Reserve and First Army priorities focused on people, readiness and modernization and create trust through relationship building with our command teams.”
The following days, command teams rotated through breakout sessions for individualized discussions, questions and to address challenges.
“I think the breakout sessions are a great opportunity to talk to the command teams one on one. I think the time allotted to ask questions was appropriate,” said Nelson.
Amongst the issues that staffs worked through, one continuous challenge facing commanders was staffing levels.
“Most of the units are very understaffed. We are trying to recruit people to join the unit and stay in the Army Reserve,” said Lt. Col. Dan McClure, Battalion Commander, 3-363 Training Support Battalion (TSBN) Los Alamitos, California, 189th Infantry Brigade. “It’s been great to work with my colleagues who are dealing with similar challenges.”
McClure, a Wells Fargo banker in civilian life with nearly 30 years of active and reserve time, praised his employer for supporting his service in the Army Reserve.
“They completely support me,” said McClure. “I do not have to use my vacation time during training. If I get deployed or mobilized, I come back to my position and my pay gap is covered.
The BCTT concluded allowing the command teams to return home with valuable insight to build on their newfound relationships and accomplish priorities.
“I thought the training went quite well. It’s about defining processes, our standards and building relationships with the command teams, which enables our ability to accomplish the First Army mission,” said Magill.
The next BCTT will take place in April for First Army’s Division East units including five brigades and 25 battalions.