Joint training competition unites Soldiers and Airmen

  • Published
  • By by Tech. Sgt. Ben Mota
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs

In today’s deployed environment, the U.S. relies on each branch of service to conduct joint operations to meet Department of Defense objectives.

With that philosophy, 11 teams from the U.S. Army Reserve's 316th Psychological Operations Company and one team from the 434th Security Forces Squadron took part in an Army Warrior Skills Task competition here, Sept. 21, 2018.

“This is a culminating training event created to test combat skills proficiency,” said U.S. Army Maj. Glenn Laws, 316th PSYOP Co. commander. “Due to the nature our potential adversaries, the Army has begun to shift the focus, making combat skills a priority.

“Anyone on the battlefield can be asked to pick up a rifle and fight back at the enemy, and this competition ensures that they do so proficiently,” added Laws.

Today’s battlefield aims at refocusing joint operations, making joint training exercises like this even more important.

“Current and future operations require a combined effort to best utilize all DoD assets to get the job done; it’s not just one service in the fight,” said Laws. “There has to be interaction with all branches to get the job done and leverage all DoD capabilities.”

That combined effort was demonstrated as Soldiers and Airmen worked together to test common combat skills in a variety of areas including: hand grenade operations, weapons proficiency, map reading, moving under fire, escalation of force, evaluating and evacuating casualties and use of protective equipment.

“This training was extremely beneficial for me because, when deployed, we have been embedded with other branches of service,” said Tech. Sgt. Richard Barrett, 434th SFS fire team member, whose team placed second in the competition. “Being security forces, the nature of the training directly applied to our jobs.

“Being evaluated from an outside source and receiving feedback helps us recognize areas we can improve.” Barrett added. “We really got a lot out of it and enjoyed working with the Army.”

Other SFS members included Staff Sgts. Adam Childers and Bo Hall.

For 316th PSOPS members, the training served as a reinforcement of how they deploy.

“This was great because when we deploy we work in a joint environment,” said Army Sgt. John Stoffel, 316th PSYOPs competitor. “It is nice be able to train like we deploy.”

“The exercise was operated as a competition, rather than just an evaluation, because we feel friendly competition gives [participants] the motivation to do their best,” said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Christopher Deisler, 316th PSYOP Co. first sergeant. “When they’re done they can use the training as an internal tool for evaluations and improvements.

“All the training they have done throughout the year leads up to this,” said Deisler.  “When we are evaluating the teams on the tasks, they are able to see where they met standards and where improvement is needed; if they fail they fail as a team because that’s how we fight.”

Teams were broken into three-man formations, each led by a noncommissioned officer responsible for the morale, welfare, and training of each team.  Obstacles were supervised by evaluators who scored the teams based on their proficiency and knowledge of each lane.

“Our operations section will analyze the information received from each detachments training and then incorporate deficiencies identified during this exercise into future training,” said Laws.  

The 316th PSYOPS Co. continuously looks for innovative ways to improve training and recently dug into resources closer to their facility to do just that: another example how joint service operations are being used to improve operations.  

“We used to only go to the field once or twice a year, but with the shift in combat skills training we rewrote our training schedule and are now going out once a quarter,” said Laws. “This in part was done because we plan on conducting a large portion of our field training here at Grissom.”

Grissom has a variety of resources that help units conduct training including: firing ranges that supports a variety of munition types, a recently developed bivouac area, and dining facility. The base has joint use agreements with a variety of agencies that allow it to share resources, ensuring all branches of services can take advantage of the base’s capabilities.  

“In the past we conducted this field training at Camp Atterburry, near Columbus [Indiana], but once we found out about all the resources at Grissom, we decided to conduct the training here this year,” said Laws. “The facilities at Grissom easily saved us more than a day because the training sites are in our back yard.

“It also saves on resources such as fuel and vehicle maintenance in addition to time spent by leadership preparing the logistics of such a large movement,” added Laws.

“The Soldiers really took advantage of the training and enjoyed getting away from the administrative portion of their jobs,” said Deisler. “We really look forward to future training and the partnership we have created with the Airmen here at Grissom.”

The 316th PSYOP Co. is one of three Army Reserve tenant units at Grissom and has recently deployed to the Horn of Africa three times since 2013. Grissom Soldiers, Airmen and Marines routinely deploy around the world in support of the DoD mission and U.S. strategic objectives.