By Sgt. Vannessa L. Josey, 158th Infantry Brigade Public Affairs July 31, 2012
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (July 31, 2012) -- The 181st Field Artillery Battalion, a Tennessee National Guard unit from Chattanooga, recently mobilized, trained and deployed to the country of Jordan, to provide infantry and border security trainer mentor assistance to the Jordanian Army.
This type of training mission, requested by Jordan, contributes to the overall security of the global environment by helping partner armies build their capacity to better defend themselves.
Members of the 158th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East, mobilized and trained the National Guard battalion at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Miss., prior to their deployment. Their mission of mobilizing, training and deploying units in support of global operations also supports the "Prevent, Shape and Win" vision.
"With the changing mission [operations tempo], the training for Soldiers has to be focused on shaping them into trainers who go in to any country and create an army that is strong and ready for combat," said Sgt. 1st Class Brent Nash, 2-351st Regiment, 158th Inf. Bde., urban operations trainer mentor.
"In one day, they switched from being trainees to being trainers," said Command Sgt. Major Russell Wright, the 181st FA BN senior enlisted adviser. "We had to do our mobilization training and get to that point. The training was built to switch the gears. Rehearsing to being or becoming the trainers is not an easy task."
The 158th Inf. Bde. tailors the training provided to each mobilizing unit based on that unit's specific deployment mission.
"There was a different aspect to training than we usually train," said Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Thurman, 2-351st Regiment 158th Infantry Brigade urban operations trainer mentor. "Now, we have to get in the mindset we are going to help foreign countries get the training they need to build a better security force."
The 181st had to mobilize and validate on their individual and collective skills and also had to learn how to train the Jordanian forces on the same skills. The 158th trainer mentors normally train units to perform security missions themselves. This was a change in how we train Soldiers to deploy, said Thurman.
"Once we train them, then they can train themselves," Wright said, "It means there's one less U.S. battalion, more U.S. Soldiers home and more countries that are self-sufficient."
Lt. Col. Kevin Stewart, 181st FA Bn. Commander said, his Soldiers are excited about the mission, not just to be able to provide the training to the Jordanian Army, but also for the expertise it will bring them personally.
"Our battalion will be better for it (trainer mentor mission) because it is so much harder to teach it than it is to do it," Stewart said. "Once we teach it over and over, we're going to come back and be better for it. There's approximately 200 people in this battalion task force. They're going to come back and our artillery battalion will be able to shoot, move, and communicate and do force protection and resupply like we've never been able to do before."
The Soldiers hope to bring an individuality to the training as well.
"The spirit of the 181st Soldiers is amazing," said Sgt. Tyrone Cosby, a field artillery launch and rocket fire direction specialist assigned to the battalion. "Since we are so diverse and have so many different leadership traits and characteristics in this unit I believe we won't have any problem dealing with anything thrown at us."
"We have had the right training here at Camp Shelby. The training also built camaraderie and respect for others," said Cosby. "It built a lot of confidence in one another. That's a big part of training and building a cohesive team."
"We all have different [military occupational specialties] and backgrounds. We are all National Guardsmen who have civilian job skills we can use to integrate and use in the training of the Jordanians," said Staff Sgt. Erick Gresham, section chief multiple launch rocket system crewmember. "That is what we bring to the mission. What will take away will be up to us."
"It's not just about us training them; it's more about building trust within their military and our military," said Churchill.
"The more governments and more professional military type units there are, especially in the Middle East, the better. It contributes to the safety of the United States, our way of life and our people," Stewart said. "I firmly believe that."
"This is a training mission and also a bonding mission with the U.S. and the Jordanians," said Spc. Kristin Miles. "I believe this could start a chain, and maybe we will be sent other places to train."
Sgt. Christopher Haygood agreed.
"This will be pretty positive," he said. "A lot of countries look at us as destroyers, as bad. We will show that we are willing and do try to help everybody. That message will be real positive."
"It's going to be challenging," admitted Haygood. "That's the one thing I love about [the Army]; the challenges. I'm open-minded and willing to learn every day -- I'm not just going over there to teach them, I'm going over there to learn as well. And that's one big thing that my team and I want; to learn about them as well as having them learn about us."