FORT RILEY, Kan. - Unit Ministry Teams (UMT) across the 1st Infantry Division gathered at Victory Village to conduct force protection training.
The chaplains and religious affairs specialists across the division discussed field operation standards, the mission of religious affairs specialists, safety maneuvers and team cohesion. The division chaplain section is overseeing the training in support of the 1ID commanding general's annual training plan in order to ensure the UMTs are prepared for large scale combat operations.
“It is great getting the team together across the division,” said U.S. Army Chaplain Maj. John Jacobson, the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade chaplain who organized the training. “The chaplain plays a vital role within any unit and we want to ensure the unit ministry team delves into the protection elements.”
Jacobson and several other unit ministry team members within the division led several exercises that reflected different scenarios a ministry team could see in a deployed environment. The training exercises focused on mastering the fundamental technical skills UMTs need in combat. Chaplain Cpt. Nathaniel Logan, the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division chaplain, assisted Jacobson with overseeing the event.
“Getting in sync with your [chaplain] as a [religious affairs specialist] is a very important experience to have,” said Logan.
During the training, religious affairs specialists and senior noncommissioned officers had to display their ability to protect and assist their assigned chaplains in hostile environments. Sgt. James Miller, a religious affairs specialist assigned to 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, served as an evaluator for the religious affairs specialists for the event.
“It is not about me as an individual,” Miller said “It is about making sure that the chaplain is safe in a combat situation.”
The training is operationally focused, hands-on, experiential, and performance-oriented. The ministry teams conducted buddy walk drills, emergency movements, three-to-five second rush drills, and security procedure drills. They had to successfully display their understanding and mastery of the tasks prior to completing the practical exercise portion. The ministry teams closed out training with an after-action review to identify and discuss what went well and where they could still improve to master their craft.
The exercise was the first of many to come which helped to reinforce the foundation of their combat proficiency, and will be followed by increasingly difficult training leading up to live-fire exercises. Brigade UMTs across the division will continue leading monthly events for all division UMTs to build on the skills needed for combat and training center rotations.
“It is something we should do more often,” Logan said. “It is exciting to pioneer something and to get out into the field and get hands-on experience.”
This event, and future UMT training, supplements the competencies and capabilities Soldiers develop at institutional Army schools and further hones those tactical skills needed to succeed during large-scale combat operations.