By Spc. Justin A. MoellerJanuary 20, 2013
Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, traveled to Fort Polk, La., last week to begin rotational training at Fort Polk's Joint Readiness Training Center. JRTC is used for pre-deployment training on various scenarios that soldiers may be faced with while serving their country over-seas.
Beginning rotation at JRTC involves packing up and moving the Brigade equipment and personnel from Fort Campbell to Fort Polk. The Mayor of the Forward Operating Base helps to coordinate the transition.
"As the FOB mayor I am responsible for the correspondence and coordination between the civilian contractors and the military on ground," said 1st Sgt. Steve R. Chandler Jr., 1st Sgt. for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th BCT. "The mayor cell takes the lead on the billeting of all personnel assigned to the FOB and is also responsible for coordinating the management of maintenance for all facilities on the FOB."
The first week at Fort Polk soldiers download the transported gear and set up the Brigade FOB. The 4th BCT battalions are simultaneously moved out to set up FOBs of their own.
"With communication systems it takes a little while to get them set up," said Maj. Mark Morgan, Brigade Chaplain for the 4th BCT. Other than getting the communication system up and running the transition has gone smooth.
The first week also includes job-specific classes on a variety of things the soldiers will face overseas.
"Our focus is on Counter-insurgency, Counter Improvised Explosive Device, and how to build Afghan National Security Force capacity," said Chandler. The soldiers receive training on Battlefield Forensics, CIED, Company Intelligence Support Team training, Raven Small Unmanned Ariel System training and Vehicle Recovery.
After the first week of classes and setting up the FOBs the units will move on to Situational Training Exercises.
The STX scenarios at JRTC replicate many of the unique situations and challenges a unit may face to include hosting national officials and citizens, engaging insurgents and terrorists, maintaining news media coverage and handling non-governmental organizations.
"I am focused solely on the Unit Ministry Team mission," said Morgan. He supervises the UMTs, Consisting of a Chaplain and a Chaplains assistant, as they provide religious support for each of the battalions.
Situational training provides soldiers with coaching, helps improve unit performance and prepares the soldiers for effectively meeting opposition.
Soldiers of the 4th BCT will also be trained by Force on Force exercises where they will meet oppositional forces, provided by units stationed at Fort Polk, in mock-combat. These training scenarios are highly realistic and intentionally stressful. JRTC helps prepare soldiers in responsiveness and gives them a better idea on how to manage their units, teams and themselves in tense situations.
JRTC has been operating out of Fort Polk since Mar. 12 1993 and soldiers who have been deployed before have most likely experienced rotation before.
"The last time I was here was ten and a half years ago and there were no permanent structures in this area at all," said Morgan. The structures that have been built up to simulate Afghanistan are exceptional and the living facilities make the quality of life for soldiers immensely better than it was the last time he was here.
The Currahees are scheduled to deploy late spring to early summer of 2013 and the training they take away from JRTC will help them face and overcome challenges they meet while overseas.
"We are still fighting an enemy that cannot be clearly identified from civilian population," said Chandler, "but teaching, coaching, and mentoring the army and police to establish trust and security for their country is a priority."