Maj. Jeff Peterson explains the training lanes run by 2nd Battalion, 363rd Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, to Maj. Gen. Thomas D. Robinson during his visit to McGregor Base Camp, N.M. Robinson was here Friday for a training review, Soldier morale boost and town hall meeting. Photo by Sgt. Marcie C. Wright, 5th Armored Bde., First Army Div. West.
Sgt. Marcie C. Wright
5th Armored Bde., First Army Div. West
MCGREGOR BASE CAMP, N.M. – Soldiers were encouraged and morale was taken to a new high as Maj. Gen. Thomas D. Robinson, commander of Division West, First Army, ate lunch with his troops Friday at the Westbrook Dining Facility. He purposed his visit on listening to Soldiers, viewing operations at Fort Bliss, and observing training lanes here.
He made observations about patches worn on the right shoulder of some Soldiers, and asked about their deployment experience. He identified with them by adding his own stories to the conversation. This was not a time of barking and “beating his chest” but, instead, a time of fellowship and brotherhood.
“It’s amazing to hear the stories and see what the Soldiers have been through,” he said of his lunch conversations. He also spoke with Sailors during lunch, and made note of the benefits that their unique experience has to offer them as well.
“It gives the Navy capabilities for promotion, and an experience uncommon to other Sailors,” he said.
He added personal touches by sharing some of his lessons learned throughout his military career, and troops listened intently during his lunchtime chat.
“I think it was a great honor for him to come and eat with us,” said Spc. Matthew E. Turner, a military police Soldier with the 211th MP Battalion. “I always appreciate when commanders are down, and they ask about the standard of living, like how much Internet costs here. I enjoy it when they come down and eat at the DFAC.”
Robinson explained to the Soldiers the importance of training and how to look out for one another – no matter where they are.
Spc. Paul Gordon, a medic with the 211th MP Bn., said, “It was cool that he talked about the value of training. Sometimes I feel like I go through a lot of nonsense tasks and he validated it for me.”
“I was on it,” exclaimed Spc. Samantha L. Houde, and MP with the 211th MP Bn. It was awesome. It was a very good experience. … I liked his advice on going over, what to expect and how to help each other out.”
After eating lunch with joint warfighters, Robinson toured the detainee operations training area to observe what deploying Soldiers were receiving shortly before their departure into the war zone.
It has been six months since Robinson’s last visit here, and he said there were some absolute changes, but all for the good. He noted there was a huge amount of improvements to Westbrook, and all are from adapting to the changes happening daily in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the majority of the improvements were made by the trainers, and he commended 5th Armored Bde. and 402nd Field Artillery Bde. for a job well done.
He also received feedback from the Soldiers. All were in agreement with the relevancy and realism of the training offered by the division here.
“The training is extremely relevant,” said Robinson. “It’s realistic; it’s comparable to what happens in theater. No doubt in my mind that it is 100 percent relevant.”
“The HEAT training was awesome,” Gordon declared. “TILT was good for familiarization with the Arabic language. Convoy operations training was … excellent training. It was good to actually go through the training, and for it not to be simulated. It was a good confidence builder. … If my unit were to undergo some form of an attack, I am confident we’ll know what to do.
“The training here is high intensity. They make it as real-life as you can get in this environment,” said Houde. “Great scenarios. And I like the ‘crawl-walk-run’ method of training used here. It’s very effective. I like being able to fix what went wrong the first time with another chance.”
“I was impressed with the convoy live-fire lane,” Turner said. “It’s one of the best ranges I’ve been on with convoys,” he said.
After eating and touring, Robinson made one last stop at the theater, where he held a town hall meeting to get one more dose of feedback from his Soldiers.
“Without the feedback from the Soldiers, we can’t make any improvements,” he said. And he also confirmed that he received all that he’d come for – feedback and more.
Robinson announced the enjoyment of his visit when he said, “Any time spent with Soldiers is a good time spent.”