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More than 100 trained Reapers ready to support mobilization

November 7, 2012

By Capt. Antonia Edwards, 174th Infantry Brigade

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE DIX LAKEHURST N.J. -- After months of leader training seminars, extended battle assemblies and other training events, more than 100 Reaper Brigade Solders completed their culminating training event and graduated as trainer/mentors from the 10-day First Army Training Academy.

The Soldiers, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 309th Regiment, 174th Infantry Brigade, stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. have now begun assisting with First Army's mission of mobilizing Reserve Component Soldiers for deployment around the world.

"The focus of the FATA program is training observation and evaluation," explained Sgt. 1st Class Everett Greene, a FATA team chief from the 174th's sister brigade at Camp Shelby, Miss. FATA ensures all trainer/mentors follow the "Exacting standards of what quality training looks like across First Army is our goal."

A cadre of master trainer/mentors from Fort McCoy, Wis., Camp Shelby, Miss., Camp Atterbury, Ind., and the 174th Infantry Brigade -- also called the Reaper Brigade, , combined efforts and brought the first mobile training FATA team to JBMDL to prepare the new trainer mentors. The Reaper Soldiers began augmenting and assuming control of training mobilization lanes in early November at JBMDL.

"Overall, our purpose is to ensure we train our Soldiers to facilitate constructive lanes. They have a better understanding of what they need to look for to give useful feedback to deploying service members," added Greene. "Training fundamentals through practical exercises helps us institute one standard throughout First Army."

Streamlining procedures and processes for validating pre-deployment training and readiness is part of the Army Total Force Policy. The FATA covers most subjects instructed by trainer mentors on the training lanes as well as how to present the material, what to look for on the lanes and how to get the most out of trainees during evaluation events. Not only do Soldiers train Counterinsurgency and IED Combat and Defeat techniques, they also train troop leading procedures, the eight-step training model and keys to effective lane execution.

"Seeing how the performance steps listed in the standard Soldier Training Publications correspond with what you've learned over the years helps realign the basics and negate bad habits - if any -- that you've picked up along the way," said Sgt. 1st Class Scott Parrish, a recent addition to the 174th Infantry Brigade. Parrish, who returned from Afghanistan last year and previously served as an observer/controller/trainer at the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Cali., recently joined 1st Battalion, 314th Infantry Regiment's gunnery team.

"Tightening up the fundamentals -- that's what training is all about, and this type of training is where you develop a cohesive team, squad, platoon," added Parrish. "Learning to love training again; this is where it happens, applying the correct practical exercises with what you teach in the classroom to better prepare men and women for their missions downrange."

Training the basics of systematic instruction, how to give an in-brief and facilitate an effective After Action Review, is the FATA's operation. The students spend the first few days in the classroom reviewing core subjects and effective instructor techniques. They then transition to six days of situational lane training exercises in the field.

"It all comes together when the trainers go through all the steps - preparing, rehearsing, executing, observing and evaluating," said Greene.

Military instructors grade the Soldiers on all facets of the mission, including safety briefs using Composite Risk Management, following the Troop Leading Procedures from start to finish, and concluding with an After Action Review and proper reporting.

The FATA facilitates approximately 20 trainer/mentor courses each year. The 174th Infantry Brigade and its sister brigades across First Army Division East are tasked with executing and certifying individual and collective training in accordance with theater specific standards for designated US Army Reserve, National Guard, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard units to prepare Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen for deployment in support of Overseas Contingency Operations.

More than 60 percent of First Army's operational strength is comprised of Reserve Component personnel on individual voluntary mobilization orders or Contingency-Active Duty for Operational Support orders. Earlier in 2012, the Army directed First Army to reduce the number of individually voluntary mobilized Soldiers by 30 percent annually over the next three years until all positions are gone. To sustain mission capability, First Army replaced soldiers on COADOS orders with mobilized Army Reserve training or logistics support battalions.

"There is no greater responsibility than to properly prepare and train soldiers going downrange," said Sgt. Maj. Dale Hanavan, 2-309th TSBn sergeant major." Hanavan served in Desert Storm and most recently with 2nd Battalion (Logistics Support) 313th Regiment, also part of First Army Division East.

"We were both mobilized together training Army tasks and served as liaisons for deploying units," said Sgt. 1st Class Edwin Gonzalez. "I'm excited to be back with my battalion, eager to train and pass on my experience again to deploying troops."

"Reservists training reservists is a formula for success," said Army Maj. Shawn Sebrell, commander, 2-309thTraining Support Battalion. "Many of the service members we train at the joint base are Air Force and Navy personnel. Our soldiers have the skills and experience to bridge the cross-culture gap and foster the 'one team-one fight' mantra."

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