Just as a Fortune 500 company would hire consultants outside of its business to come in and evaluate spending and employee performance to save money, the Army uses professional observer/controllers to evaluate a unit's wartime mission capabilities to save time, supplies and lives.

Approximately 1,000 Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment and the 70th Brigade Support Battalion are directly involved in a current External Evaluation that ends on Jan. 20.

"These EXEVALS are the most important thing we do during the course of the year," said Maj. Anthony Demasi, executive officer, 1st Bn., 38th FA. "It gives us all a chance to not only see and evaluate our weaknesses, but see the things we do well and build on them."

Experience and a lot of planning play a big role in the success of these units' performance. With many Soldiers coming straight out of Advanced Individual Training, it is up to noncommissioned officers to prepare and sustain their Soldiers' morale in the field.

"Morale is great right now," said 1st Sgt. Blake A. Kennedy, 1st Bn., 38th FA. "But it is up to me and my supporting staff to ensure that they understand how to combat cold weather injuries and battle the elements."

During these EXEVALS, the OCs will shadow their counterparts to be an extra set of eyes that will see the things that can be overlooked in the course of combat operations, said Demasi.

The OCs are Soldiers themselves and know the pressures of running an operation. That's why they have been brought in to evaluate and strengthen our combat capabilities, he said.

The 70th BSB's mission is to keep supply lines open and provide all the support the 1-38th FA will need to be successful. From fuel to ammunition and communications to hot chow, the Soldiers of the 70th BSB are essential in the success of these EXEVALS.

Capt. Jason O. Luckey, 579th Signal Company commander said, "70th BSB's role is very important; we supply the Multiple Launch Rocket Systems with ammunition, spare parts, as well as different logistical aspects that keep us in the fight."

Any time a unit travels to the field, the day-to-day operations of each individual Soldier can change. This aspect of the training brings the oppurtunity to learn more than just how to combat cold weather injuries.

"These EXEVALS bring about a good oppurtunity for our younger Soldiers to learn the daily operations of the unit and their job in a combat environment," said Kennedy.

"My main goal, as well as for the people around me is to come out of this with more confidence and with a knowledge of what our personal strengths and weaknesses are as junior enlisted Soldiers," said Spc. Rodney Moses, acting NCOIC for 70th BSB S-2.