FORT SHAFTER FLATS, Hawaii -- The 9th Mission Support Command's 303rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade kicked off the first-ever, U.S. Army Reserve MEB Academy, here, Sept. 17-18.

During the two-day event, leaders of the 303rd teamed with instructors from the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, Training and Doctrine Command, to train nearly 100 leaders and staff members on MEB roles and responsibilities.

The visiting TRADOC instructors and MEB subject matter experts shared credible, up-to-date, operational and strategic information from leaders in the field via round table discussions, breakout sessions, and other forums.

Soldiers seemed to appreciate the focus on training.

2nd Lt. John Pinpin, military intelligence officer, 303rd, said the training, "has given me a clear picture of what is expected. [The instructors] have so much knowledge; I just want to pick their brains."

This MEB Academy was the 303rd's homegrown answer to the challenge of seeking operational capability within the next two years while having the title of the Army's newest MEB.

Brigade Commander Col. Randy Hart said the brigade's focus since activation has been learning and meeting MEB doctrinal objectives.

"[We decided] the best way to do that was to engage the MEB subject matter experts at Fort Leonard Wood. [And] that's exactly what we did," said Hart.

A month after standing up the brigade, Hart and key 303rd staff members traveled to visit MEB experts in Missouri. From the initial visit spawned the academy.

Hart praised Maj. Stacey Goodman, 303rd executive officer and academy "brain child", for paving the way by presenting the academy concept to key leaders at the MSCoE.

"When Goodman presented the academy concept … they were more than just pleasantly surprised on what she had conceptualized," said Hart. "Her academy concept melded perfectly with what the MSCoE was in the midst of planning. Hence one of the main reasons the MSCoE chose the 303rd as the MEB to implement the academy."

Now, just months later, this locally-hosted course will help the recently activated brigade train its reservists quickly.

Lt. Col. Michael Lockwood, 303rd deputy commander, said he fully supports and believes in the ability of the MEB Academy to train the unit's Soldiers in the functions and tasks of a MEB.

The brigade command sergeant major agreed.

"It [the academy] gives our Soldiers training, from-the-ground-up, on how to do their jobs doctrinally," said 303rd Command Sgt. Maj. Randy Harr. "We want everyone, of all ranks, to know what a MEB is and how to run it successfully."

This weekend's activities were just the beginning. The Army Reserve-focused academy will continue throughout the year ahead. It will primarily be conducted during select battle assemblies (weekend drills) and supplemented by individual self study.

The academy will incorporate real-world experience from active duty, National Guard and Reserve MEBs into practical exercises, using diverse training venues and products that provide unit members with guidance on MEB functions, capabilities and doctrine.

Training efforts will culminate in a capstone event that is scheduled for August of 2012 during extended combat training at the MSCoE.