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5th AR trains warfighters for worldwide deployments

November 20, 2012

By Capt. Darin W. Larson, 2nd Battalion, 361st Combat Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Since 2001, the Alpha Team engineers of 2nd Battalion, 361st Combat Support Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, while mobilized to Fort Bliss, Texas, have trained thousands of Joint Warfighters for deployments to various military operations.

"Reserve force trainers bring a diverse and broad skill set to mobilization training centers which enhances the total perspective of training soldiers," said Master Sgt. Todd Stone, Alpha Team noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "Combine this with a strong civilian work ethic from the Midwest, and you create a training atmosphere that is second to none."

During their most recent mobilization, the team of more than 100 Army Reserve Soldiers conducted individual training lanes such as Level I combatives training, foreign languages, unarmed self-defense, Chemical/Biological/Radiological/Nuclear training, communications, dismounted and mounted land navigation, Troop Leading Procedures, engineering missions, Military Operations in Urban Terrain training, base defense and culminating training events.

The Alpha Team also performed lane site improvements such as constructing pull-up and dip bars for the McGregor physical fitness field, installing new traffic barriers at the entry control point gate and pouring a concrete helicopter-landing pad at Contingency Operating Location Westbrook.

The role of observer controller/trainers is a critical component of the 5th Armored Brigade and the Division West training program. Army Reserve Soldiers have many skills to bring onto the battlefield, with a range of expertise from lawyers, nurses, contractors, teachers and bankers.

The Alpha Team OCTs are not only liaisons to the theater of operations, they are also skilled in combat tactics and maintain the Army Soldier's Creed as standard-bearers. Teaching and mentoring are the most important functions of their duties.

"(Observer controller/trainers) are entrusted with ensuring that each training venue provides a positive learning experience for the training audience," Stone said. "Although difficult to track, lives saved on the battlefield are a direct reflection on Alpha Team's training contributions to those units we've trained."

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