FORT HOOD, Texas - There's usually no training benefit in telling war stories, but for 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment Soldiers, they made a complete day of talking about the lessons they've learned in Iraq when the entire leadership was on hand to talk about their upcoming deployment to Iraq at the Fort Hood Community Center May 2.
"Sometimes the staff and the commanders have a disconnect," said Sgt. Jack Androski, 1-5's School's noncommissioned officer. "This is a time for everyone to come in and spend a day to bring things up to the commander."
Androski, a Newhaven, Conn. native, said the conference was a little shy of "monumental" because they've never had an entire day set aside with the entire leadership in room discussing the business of preparing for war.
"As people leave, we lose tactical knowledge; we are trying to build a new team," said Androski. "You've got about a thousand years of experience in this room; we want to use our cumulative fighting knowledge [for our deployment]."
According to Maj. Shannon Nielson, the Black Knights' Operations officer, who hails from Griffin, Ga., one of the benefits of their unique forum was to get "bottom-up-fed" ideas for their future training leading up to their deployment back to Iraq.
The training conference, Nielson's brainchild, was to be like an executive brief for their commander, Lt. Col. Scott Jackson.
"We wanted people in a comfortable setting ... out of uniform ... so they'd be less inhibited as far as input goes, and they'd be more likely to disagree or agree and come up with common ideas," Nielson said. "We wanted it to be an executive brief."
One of the major topics of the day was their Tactical Standard Operating Procedure, the manual that contains everything they do to conduct business. Through each briefer, certain parts of their TACSOP were either changed or scrapped, according to Androski.
Androski said one thing they discussed was their physical training standard versus the Army standards that they want to incorporate into their new TACSOP.
"If someone gets shot in the tank, what do they have to do to get them out' Regular PT standards aren't enough here," he said. "So we spoke about the dead lift - getting Soldiers out of tanks - saving bodies ... saving your friends. We are trying to train Soldiers to be safe in Iraq."
For Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Cheney, who served as a platoon sergeant with Company B, 1-5 during their last deployment to Iraq.
"I remember when we were in Iraq, we had a building full of guys shooting at us ...," Cheney, of Midtown, Ohio, told the audience members when he was giving a briefing about reacting to sniper fire.
A portion of Cheney's briefing to the platoon sergeants, first sergeants, company commanders, and the battalion staff, was about how they need to incorporate realistic engagements; train leaders to find balance; training on rules of engagement; mounted and dismounted attacks; and a few other important lessons he and his platoon learned while conducting combat operations during their time in Baghdad.
For 1st Sgt. Sammie Mays, Co. B's first sergeant, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who is about to leave the Black Knights, giving his input of lessons learned was very important.
"The lessons learned during the last deployment is very important," said the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native. "We want to make changes from last deployment so we don't make the same mistakes."