25th Infantry Division Hosts Groundbreaking Training for Unit Ministry Teams

By 25th Infantry Division Unit Ministry TeamsFebruary 13, 2024

(Photo Credit: Sgt. Jared Simmons) VIEW ORIGINAL

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HI - In a significant stride towards Maj. Gen. Marcus Evan’s number one priority of warfighter readiness in the 25th Infantry Division, Chaplain (Lt. Col) Daniel Kang, the 25th Infantry Division Chaplain, hosted the first annual "Religious Support Operational Readiness Training” (RSORT) for Unit Ministry Teams (UMTs) and Chaplain Sections. More than 60 Soldiers participated in the three-day training event that took place from January 30 to February 1, 2024. The event was designed to support the Chief of Staff of the Army's priority on warfighting and the Chief of Chaplains' goal of ensuring the preparedness of UMTs across the Army for large-scale combat operations (LSCO).

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Daniel Kang emphasized the importance of this mission by stating, "The 25th Infantry Division is prepared for any mission in the Indo-Pacific that our nation requires of us. This is true for our UMTs as well. Our vision is not just to provide ministry in garrisons, but to deliver the right religious support wherever duty calls us."

The training brought together UMTs from across the U.S. Army Pacific, with members of the 25th Infantry Division, 1st Corps, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th MP Brigade, and the 11th Airborne Division participating.

On the first day, attendees received instruction on a strategic view of the Indo-Pacific region, the challenges posed by the vast distances and influence in the theater, and an overview of warfighting function capabilities across the theater.

U.S. Army Chaplain Capt. Kara Dreflak-Utley and Spc. Joshua Echavez (right), a religious affairs specialist, both with the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, send a report via radio as part of a religious support readiness training exercise at East Range on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Feb. 1, 2024. Unit ministry teams received brief training on radio operations and were expected to demonstrate proficiency at sending up a report in order to improve combat readiness in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jared Simmons, 28th Public Affairs Detachment)
U.S. Army Chaplain Capt. Kara Dreflak-Utley and Spc. Joshua Echavez (right), a religious affairs specialist, both with the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, send a report via radio as part of a religious support readiness training exercise at East Range on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Feb. 1, 2024. Unit ministry teams received brief training on radio operations and were expected to demonstrate proficiency at sending up a report in order to improve combat readiness in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jared Simmons, 28th Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Jared Simmons) VIEW ORIGINAL

The second day UMTs engaged in classroom academic sessions focused on integrating religious support into the operations process. Guest trainer Chaplain (Maj.) Erik Alfsen from the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia guided the teams through understanding the operations process and how religious support can be effectively planned and integrated.

UMTs learned to interpret and employ operational graphics by creating analog fighting products in a detailed and realistic scenario, including “Running Estimates” and a Common Operational Picture (COP). They also practiced field expedient memorial events, discussed principles and best practices for providing ministry to the wounded and dying, and covered communication architecture and accurate reporting.

The third day marked a groundbreaking field training exercise starting at 5:00 AM and lasting until 4:00 PM. UMTs were placed in a LSCO scenario and tasked with developing priorities for religious support. They briefed their command and staff during a Battle Update Brief (BUB), created a battlefield circulation plan approved by the commander, and set out to support their formations based on these priorities.

U.S. Army Sgt. Austin Knight, a religious affairs noncommissioned officer assigned to the 11th Airborne Division prays with notionally injured and distressed Soldiers as part of a religious support readiness training exercise at East Range on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Feb. 1, 2024. Unit ministry teams gave reports during the update briefs as part of a training exercise meant for them to demonstrate their ability to provide religious support in large-scale combat operations. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jared Simmons, 28th Public Affairs Detachment)
U.S. Army Sgt. Austin Knight, a religious affairs noncommissioned officer assigned to the 11th Airborne Division prays with notionally injured and distressed Soldiers as part of a religious support readiness training exercise at East Range on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Feb. 1, 2024. Unit ministry teams gave reports during the update briefs as part of a training exercise meant for them to demonstrate their ability to provide religious support in large-scale combat operations. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jared Simmons, 28th Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Jared Simmons) VIEW ORIGINAL

Using land navigation skills and their COPs, UMTs navigated to different company locations. At each station, they were challenged with various tasks, including conducting hasty memorial ceremonies, setting up frequency modulation (FM) radio communications, providing ministry in a battalion aid station during a complex medical triage scenario, and reacting to enemy attacks alongside infantry squads using blank fire ammunition. Over thirty-five 25ID Soldiers from 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and Division Artillery Brigade (DIVARTY) supported the FTX as role players; and 21 Observer-Coach/Trainers (OC/Ts) from U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI), 25ID, 11th Airborne Division, U.S. Army Pacific and 8th Theatre Support Command supported the event by providing detailed after-action reviews and written feedback at each station.

Chaplain (Maj.) Nick Stavlund of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade commended the training, stating, "This was truly incredible event - realistic and rigorous. Our Unit Ministry teams learned a great deal about themselves and identified areas for improvement to be truly ready."

Another Religious Affairs Specialist added, "This is the best training I've received outside of a combat training center."

Chaplain (Maj.) Peter Stone, the overall planner for the event stated, "Chaplain (Lt. Col) Kang wanted to ensure we are doing everything we can to support the commander’s number one priority: warfighting readiness, and to equip our Unit Ministry Teams to provide the best possible Religious Support in a LSCO environment. Our goal was to create a challenging and realistic training event that would serve as a ‘stress shoot’ for religious support. Our UMTs faced significant challenges, but they also left with newfound confidence in their abilities to provide life-giving religious support in a highly lethal and complex battlefield environment."

The "Religious Support Operational Readiness Training" marked a significant step towards enhancing the readiness of Unit Ministry teams, ensuring they are well-prepared for their vital mission on the battlefield.