‘Ready, trained and highly proficient’: ‘Cobra Strike’ Battalion conducts SPEAR exercise
Staff Sgt. Norman Llamas,
11th ADA Bde. Public Affairs:
Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery, “Cobra Strike,” conducted a Standardized Patriot Evaluation and Assessment Reporting, or SPEAR, exercise at Tobin Wells’ Drive-Up Systems Trainer from Aug. 24 through 30. The exercise was conducted in preparation for the battalion’s upcoming deployment.
Assessors from 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command went out to the training site to evaluate the Soldiers’ readiness before the battalion’s upcoming mission readiness exercise, which is the battalion’s last big training event before they deploy.
“The SPEAR assesses your basic ability and knowledge to operate the Patriot control system,” said Spc. Joshua Rivera, a network switching systems operator/maintainer with the battalion’s B Battery.
“SPEARs are a great learning opportunity,” said Rivera. “You definitely learn a lot from one SPEAR to the next.”
Before the SPEAR exercise, the battalion conducted a two-week internal evaluation, known as the Table VIII. Battalions conduct such evaluations ahead of the SPEAR so that their crews are ready for external evaluators at the SPEAR exercise.
“Air battle management and systems knowledge are evaluated during the SPEAR. You will know immediately after an air battle if you passed or failed. The air battle is played back in front of the entire battalion and your deficiencies are pointed out and discussed,” said 1st Lt. Eric Sefchik, fire platoon leader with B Btry.
“It’s great to have external evaluators come out and look at our training because they tell you exactly where you are and what you need to work on,” said Sefchik.
“The amount of time we put into the SPEAR is long and stressful but it’s essential for us to put the time in if we are to be successful,” said Sefchik.
The goal for each crew is to go through an evaluation with a first time “go.” That’s easier said than done since each crew has to take a written evaluation and pass before they can move on to the air battle management evaluation.
“Even if you get a ‘go’ on your first assessment, you will stick around to help your fellow comrades who haven’t been evaluated or the ones who will need to be re-evaluated,” said Spc. Lauren Vazquez, a fire control enhanced operator/maintainer with B Btry.
“The SPEAR is a good training event that provides an external view of the battalion’s training plan,” said Capt. Khristina Allen, B Btry. commander.
“We are ready, trained and highly proficient,” said Allen.
“This training gives us a chance to hone our skills in preparation for our deployment,” said 1st. Sgt. James Brandon, the battery’s first sergeant.
“The SPEAR helped the commander and I solidify our assessment of the crews,” said Brandon. “We are completely comfortable with assuming any task while deployed.”
“Our crews are performing well,” said Lt. Col. David E. Shank, battalion commander. “Confidence is high. This training event enhances our ability to communicate well, as communication plays a vital role in the success of our mission.”
“The common denominator centers on our ability to communicate effectively, and the key to that assessment is the after-action reviews that are conducted after each air battle,” said Shank.
“The SPEAR helps us continue to build champions and overall, a winning team across the battalion,” said battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Mathew Gruidl.
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