BROOKINGS, S.D. – The 152nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion hosted its first field training exercise April 30-May 1 at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, bringing the battalion headquarters and all associated units together for the first time since the 152nd was established.
“I went through an FTX like this about seven or eight years ago, thought it was very beneficial, and when I came into command about a year and a half ago, I thought it’d be a good idea to push for,” said Lt. Col. Jason Kleinschmit, commander of the 152nd CSSB. “To get the whole battalion together, that doesn’t happen very often, and that has not happened in the 152nd since it came into existence.”
The four-day training operation included participation by prospective recruits in many training events and cross-training opportunities between units in the 152nd.
“Our plan is to have every unit bring something to the table; to show other units how they do something or teach them something they don’t typically do,” Kleinschmit said. “The maintenance company is very good at recovery and the maintenance side, so they worked with the transportation companies to show them more.”
“Three takeaways from the NCO perspective are: one is Soldier training, the next one is readiness, and hand-in-hand with that is recruiting and retention,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Schmidt, the senior enlisted leader of the 152nd CSSB.
The 740th Transportation Company’s recovery team of mechanics conducted realistic hands-on training hosted by their peers and subject matter experts of the 665th Support Maintenance Company.
“The 740th has about 18 mechanics which support all our tractor-trailers,” said Capt. Betsy Schaefer, commander of the 740th TC. “This is their first time training with the 665th.”
The 152nd also invited the U.S. Army’s First Army exercise and training evaluators to visit with the 740th and the 730th Area Support Medical Company. The First Army team is the units’ evaluators for the next few years and is available to observe and evaluate training.
“Their main role is to visit units that may be quickly out the door if something does happen,” Kleinschmit said. “They wanted to get a chance to evaluate them, and they’re making an initial connection with those units.”
As the 152nd CSSB approaches a change-of-command, the exercise has another unique feature: the presence of the current and expected incoming commander.
“I really appreciated the opportunity and invitation to come and observe the staff, observe the Soldiers, and observe the training,” said Lt. Col. Nate Moore. “To meet folks and get a warm introduction to the unit, normally that doesn’t happen. It’s been a good opportunity for me to look, listen and learn, and see the units.”
The 152nd’s training plan encompassed in-depth training objectives and enabled peer command teams and units to experience their different capabilities.
“What I’ve observed over the last three or four days is those junior NCOs, those junior Soldiers being empowered to be able to work within their collective teams,” said Schmidt. “Completing their Soldier tasks: working on ranges, understanding weapons qualification, those individual and junior leadership NCO tasks of small unit leadership.”