By 5th Armored Brigade Public Affairs, First Army Division WestAugust 13, 2007
FORT CHAFFEE, Ark. - Crisscrossing the United States to conduct training missions is nothing new to the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 361st Regiment "Redhawk", 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West, based at Fort Carson, Colo. What is new to these Soldiers is the role that they are now fulfilling as Unit Mobilization Assistors with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma National Guard.
Redhawk Soldiers normally function in the role of an Observer-Controller/Trainer and are often found on the ranges conducting the very training that they are now tracking for the 45th IBCT. It is a different mission, but one that is equally as important.
"Our mission is to assist the 45th IBCT in their preparations for deployment to Iraq," said Redhawk Command Sgt. Maj. Louis D. Turnage. "We are assisting them in ensuring that they identify any shortage of equipment, necessities for movement, we are identifying shortcomings of personnel and assisting them to pass this information up to First Army," he added.
Turnage acknowledges that having the primary mission of an OC/T gives Redhawk Soldiers the skills to perform two roles in this new environment. "We can evaluate the Soldiers to ensure that they're trained, plus we can observe to ensure that they are getting quality training and the standards are being properly met," he explained.
Having another unit available for quality control and reporting purposes is valuable to the 45th IBCT points out Staff Sgt. David Parish, Redhawk UMA and Counter-Insurgency instructor.
"It helps facilitate the 45th's ability to train on the tasks that they're here to train on," Parish explained. "They focus on their individual weapons and on their individual and collective tasks, not on tracking their training numbers. That gives us the ability to track their training numbers, spend all the hours compiling those reports, formulate those reports and send them up to higher so they (the 45th) can just focus on training," he said.
As the 45th IBCT wraps up their training at Fort Chaffee and Camp Gruber, Okla., in August, it is not the end of the relationship between the UMAs and the units that they have been working with.
In September, Redhawk Soldiers will liaison with 45th IBCT Soldiers back at their home stations where they will continue to observe training standards and evaluate classes. During this time period however, they will also lend their expertise to assisting with and identifying issues associated with the packing and shipping of equipment to Iraq so that it arrives in a timely manner.
After completing pre-mobilization training, the Soldiers of the 45th will make the transition to their mobilization station. As they arrive at Fort Bliss, they will again find familiar faces awaiting them as the Redhawk UMAs will join 5th Armored Brigade as the lead training brigade on the ground at McGregor Range, El Paso, Texas.
Following Soldiers throughout their pre-mobilization training is something new to the Redhawk UMAs, but a role that Turnage finds helpful for the deploying Soldiers.
"You become family...The commanders go up to their UMAs and they start asking them the hard questions on 'how do we get better'' or 'what do I need to expect when I get over in country''" Turnage explained. "They want our help now and that's what makes it good. That's what will make it good when you go to the deployment site is that they have that familiar face. If they are unfamiliar or not sure what they should be doing, they know they have someone they can go talk to and get the straight up answer to help them out," he concluded.
Advising, mentoring, training, evaluating. It's what Redhawk was trained for; it's what Redhawk does best.