Mobilizing training team showcases success to star-studded visitors
Staff Sgt. Patricia Deal,
402nd FA Bde. Public Affairs:
The “Four Horsemen,” a four-unit team dedicated to mobilizing and demobilizing training here and at nearby McGregor Range, N.M., welcomed the opportunity to showcase their training efforts to several visiting senior leaders who rode in on the team’s formation Sept. 21 through Oct. 4.
First Army’s Division West units (402nd Field Artillery Brigade, 5th Armored Brigade and the Directorate of Mobilization and Deployment) along with the 75th Training Command’s Task Force 150 train all Army Reserve and National Guard units mobilizing and demobilizing at Fort Bliss.
Col. Carolyn Birchfield, commander of the 402nd, said this is one of the busiest times, as they’ve had back-to-back units come through for mobilization and demobilization training, yet she and the team welcome anyone to “fall in on our formation at any time.”
“I’m proud of the exceptional work our Soldiers do,” said Birchfield. “I know they work long and hard, every day, all day, to pull off many successes. There’s no doubt in my mind that our team executes the mission exceptionally well. I invite anyone to come see firsthand just how professional our people are.”
Birchfield added that distinguished visitor, or DV, visits are a good opportunity to orient top leadership with the 402nd’s training missions, and that she appreciated the perspective and priorities passed down from the top as Division West heads into another year of training some 20,000 mobilizing and demobilizing Soldiers.
Brig. Gen. Michael Smith, the new deputy commanding general of First Army, visited the Mobilization Training Center Bliss, or MTC Bliss, Sept. 21 as part of his orientation to the division’s units across the country.
His visit to Bliss was especially rewarding for him, as he was “on the other side of the fence” now, and was able to observe a portion of the culminating training exercise of his former unit, the 333rd Military Police Brigade.
“As a former brigade commander serving in the ‘trainee’ role, I worked closely with First Army and the 75th Training Command during our pre- and post-mobilization training,” said Smith. “Throughout these initial phases, I was very impressed with the experience of the trainers/mentors, their recent deployment credentials, and their eagerness to train.
“Now, having transitioned to the ‘trainer’ role, I see the hard work of the dedicated trainers within First Army and our mobilizing training partners and how they help the mobilizing Soldiers improve their individual skills, but more importantly, their ability to work as a team,” Smith continued. “I am confident they are prepared to deploy and conduct their mission to the highest. The professionalism and dedication of the 402nd, 5th Armored, and TF-150 have been exceptional, and I am proud to be on their team now. They are truly the ‘Best in the West.’”
Division West’s deputy commanding general of operations, Brig. Gen. Michael Navrkal, and Chief of Staff Col. Tobin Green, visited MTC Bliss Oct. 4, and also said they were impressed with the training successes of the “Four Horsemen.”
Navrkal also had the benefit of experiencing mobilization training from “both sides.” Serving as the assistant adjutant general for the Nebraska Army National Guard, he has been to Fort Bliss several times to observe National Guard units mobilizing through here.
“I was confident the units received the best possible training to set them up for success during their deployment. The trainers do a tremendous job of understanding the specific mission needs and execute the plans so well,” Navrkal said. “Now as part of the team that delivers the training, I have that same feeling of confidence. The only difference now is that I have a greater appreciation for the all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes which is transparent to the units being trained. It really is impressive how they go above and beyond.”
Navrkal also said how impressed he is with the unique multi-component, multi-service aspect of Division West and how well everyone comes together to complete the mission.
First Army’s divisions are composed of servicemembers from the active component, Army Reserve, National Guard and training units from all services.
That unique makeup and mission of Division West continues to be of interest to other Army leadership, and Birchfield and the other leaders of the “Four Horsemen” continually share the team’s successes. The team’s most recent brief was with the Army inspector general, Lt. Gen. Peter Vangjel Oct. 1 during his four-day visit to Fort Bliss.
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