Soldiers Sharpen Performance Skills at Operation Raider Blast

By Erik Moshe, Contractor, Ready and Resilient (R2) Performance CenterOctober 23, 2023

The 3rd Squadron, 4th U.S. Cavalry (3-4 CAV) Raiders, collaborated with performance experts (PEs) Fernando Llamoca and Eliza Marks from the Schofield Barracks Ready and Resilient (R2) Performance Center at the Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) to enhance their readiness and lethality. First Lt. Matthew M. Griffin requested PEs’ support to ensure that Soldiers received mental-skills training during Operation Raider Blast. PEs observed section, platoon and troop live-fire exercises for both Apache and Blackfoot troops and taught attention-control, mindset and confidence-building skills during hip-pocket and individual sessions in the field.

“Soldiers were required to execute their respective roles and take initiative during live fires, which demanded strong levels of focus and discipline,” Marks says. “We taught mental skills to Soldiers, who had to juggle a lot of information from different sources, to increase the probability of their success by controlling how the mind works under pressure.”

Llamoca highlighted skills such as what’s important now (WIN), control the controllables and cues to help Soldiers streamline large amounts of information by limiting distractions that were not in their control and focusing on elements that were.

Llamoca explains, “For example, if a Soldier made a mistake during the live fire, they asked themselves, What’s important now?, to help focus on the task at hand and not on the mistake, which allowed them to get back into the fight quickly.”

A Soldier from Apache troop who used the mental-skills training says, “I tried to flush away the negative thoughts and focus on what I needed to do as a gunner; it helped me feel more prepared in my role.”

“While the ability to control one’s own thought process in the moment was essential, other skills like communication and motivation also helped to increase the cohesion of the troop,” Marks observes. “Trust was built as Soldiers identified potential areas to improve and sustain and developed a plan to work toward a common goal. Overall, having a more cohesive team led to quantitative and qualitative performance improvements for the Raiders during their live fires.”

“I’ve noticed considerable differences in my team’s composure and consistency throughout our lanes after working with the R2PC team,” a Soldier from Blackfoot troop notes.

These quantitative and qualitative improvements were measured with the PEs during the Soldiers’ After-Action Review (AAR). Llamoca and Marks reflect on how being a part of the AAR process was crucial because it allowed them to reinforce information that company and troop leaders put out.

“Some of the key takeaways from the AARs included how to stay employed during the fight, how to communicate during their iterations and what to work on during the planning phase,” Llamoca says. “We used this information to create discussions and give tailored sessions to each platoon. We focused on specific mental skills that could be useful for them and the actions that Soldiers were going to take to incorporate their sustains and improves into the next iteration.”

Additionally, during a classroom session with the unit’s medics, PEs discussed mindset, overcoming negativity bias, motivation and the impact the skills can have on readiness. They also attended Dakota troop’s M4 and M240 qualification ranges and taught skills to boost focus, attention and readiness in between range iterations. Several Soldiers struggled to qualify on the M4, but nearly all qualified after PEs discussed post-mistake cue words to help them reengage with the target.

“I don’t get much practice with my M4,” a Soldier from Dakota troop says, “but the R2PC team helped me get over my nerves and I was able to qualify on my second iteration.”

“We learned so much through observation and speaking with Soldiers about how they do what they do,” Marks says. “Oftentimes, you can see the results after they finish their iteration on the range, which gives you an indication about how they did. However, when you talk to the Soldier about how they think they did, suddenly, the result isn’t the only marker for success. We saw some very good scores out there, and Soldiers weren’t satisfied with it. They wanted more and sought ways to improve for next time. There was such a hunger to learn and be better individually and as a group, allowing them to push the boundaries of their abilities.”

As a Soldier from Dakota troop notes, “I found the information helpful, and I was able to keep distractions out of my mind and keep it blank to focus on the target.” Reach out to your nearest R2 Performance Center to schedule training to increase your team’s performance and cohesion. Visit https:// R2/I-Want-to-Schedule-Training.html.