‘Battle Ready’ brings battalion back to basics
Spc. Brandon A. Bednarek,
4th BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:
From the moment a Soldier reports to his or her first duty station, they are expected to know how to perform all basic Soldiering tasks and skills to standard. Unless assigned to a combat-arms unit, however, those perishable skills can be lost or forgotten during Soldiers’ daily schedules and job requirements.
As part of a larger battalion focus on collective training, the 2nd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, brought their “Battle Ready” Soldiers back to basics Sept. 26 as they performed common task training.
The battalion selected four individual tasks that fit within the unit’s mission-essential task list and aimed to develop Soldiers’ ability to perform the fundamental skills required of them, said Capt. Patrick J. Vickery, the battalion’s planning officer.
“Although we are a field artillery unit, these basic warrior tasks are still pertinent and important to the unit’s overall proficiency and combat readiness,” said Vickery.
To promote leadership from within, the CTT training was conducted by the unit’s junior enlisted Soldiers, who spent the morning refreshing both peers and noncommissioned officers on crew-serve weapons, map reading, first-aid and self-decontamination.
“It was a way to prioritize time and give Soldiers the chance to teach their comrades, which in turn provided us with maximum participation,” he said.
“The training gets us back to the basics and I think that’s what it’s coming down to,” said Spc. Marcus King, a chaplain assistant with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery. “With the brigade going in the direction it is, it’s a perfect opportunity to get back to the basics.”
Because common warrior tasks are the building blocks for all other levels of training, mastery of those skills is vital to both the Soldier and the mission, which can change with little warning.
“The benefit to the Soldier is that, even though they are field artillery Soldiers, they have been consistently asked to perform tasks outside their specialty for missions,” said Vickery.
“In relation to crew-serve weapons, that is something they can constantly use, whether they are a gunner here or deploy with a unit that is tasked with being a maneuver unit,” he continued. “Any Soldier in the battalion should now be able to pick up a crew-serve weapon and know how to perform a functions check, load and clear it, and do headspace and timing on it.”
As a chaplain assistant, the weapons training was particularly beneficial for King, who admitted that automatic machine guns were his least knowledgeable area.
Before the battalion’s collective training, King rarely had a chance to work with any weapon other than his assigned M4 rifle.
Now King’s confidence in operating crew-serve platforms is increasing each week while decreasing his dependence on the M4, granting him a wider range of options to protect the chaplain, he said.
“If something did happen to my weapon, I could pick up another and be able to carry on protecting him,” said King. “It’s good to have these constant refreshers and reminders so that when the [security force advise and assist teams] get back, we’ll be able to share that same knowledge.”
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