The First Army Observer Coach/Trainer Academy is on the move. After years at Camp Shelby, Miss., the school began teaching classes this fall at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., home of First Army headquarters.
Graduates are qualified to serve as OC/Ts to Reserve Component partners in various training events leading up to those units’ deployments in support of combatant commander requirements.
“From here, they will be able to facilitate training events and help Guard and Reserve units better themselves,” said 1st Sgt. Bill Kearney, academy first sergeant.
The academy employs 21 instructors who facilitate one-week classes, where students drill into the finer points of OC/T duties through demonstrations, practical exercises, after action reviews, and a gathering of lessons learned. One of the academy’s main functions is to keep OC/T skills sharp, relevant, and in line with the latest doctrine.
While some academy students already come equipped with such knowledge, more is required of an OC/T at First Army.
“We do it a little different because of our partnership with the Guard and Reserve,” Kearny said. “It’s not like JRTC or NTC where you’re training with OC/Ts who can help you, and once you leave, all hands are washed of each other. With us, we partner with the Guard and Reserve to help them though their training before they deploy, so we’re with them the whole way.”
“Since First Army has a particular way of doing things, it’s good to understand what the standard is,” added Lt. Col. Joseph Borg, commander of 1-346 Air Defense Artillery, and an academy student.
The knowledge gained will benefit First Army and its partnered units, according to Command Sgt. Maj. John Brown, senior enlisted Soldier for 1-362 Air Defense Artillery. “This will definitely enable us to have that initial conversation with them and get the buy-in from them for the training, and focus on their commander’s intent,” he explained.
The staff are setting the students up for that success, he added.
“The academy is doing a deep dive into the education and content that we will need,” Brown said. “The cadre have been phenomenal. They are great facilitators and there is content and context to what is put out in the lesson plans.”
From here, Brown will ensure those lessons take root a 1-362: “I will take this and make sure my team has a structure and are not missing anything in how to facilitate an AAR to our partner unit.”