More than 70 Army Reserve Soldiers are spending a few days here conducting a variety of individual and unit training in preparation for an upcoming Combat Simulated Training Exercise (CSTX) later this month.
The Soldiers are from the 371st Chemical Company, 457th Chemical Battalion, 415th Chemical Brigade, 76th Operational Response Command, based out of Greenwood, South Carolina. They began arriving here last week and will continue to train here through June 18.
“Being here provides a valuable training opportunity for us for a couple of reasons,” said 1st Sgt. Tyrone Pugh, company first sergeant, 371st Chem. Co, 457th Chem. Bn., 415th Chem. Brig.. “Number one, it helps us build team cohesion. In addition to the fact that we only see each other once a month at our battle assemblies, we also have 21 Soldiers from the 366th Chemical Company out of Savannah, Georgia augmenting our unit. So we are using this opportunity to integrate them into our company and make them feel like they are part of the team.”
Another reason the time here is valuable to the company is the myriad of training the Soldiers are receiving. “Since arriving our Soldiers have done Combat Lifesaver (CLS) training, land navigation, improvised explosive device (IED) recognition, convoy operations, and individual weapons qualification,” said Pugh. “Honing our Soldiers skills here will really help us when we go to CSTX.”
One of those training opportunities helping to refine the Soldiers skills was a virtual battlespace where warriors got to experience various computer simulations and scenarios.
“The Soldiers received two different types of virtual training sessions here,” said Robert Pinkney, Virtual Battlespace 3 Integrator for Camp McCrady and the National Guard Bureau. “They had map reading and land navigation training, where the intent was to understand how to plot grids, determine distance and direction and find different points on a map. They also had virtual convoy training, where the intent was to understand how to implement troop leading procedures and how to conduct a convoy mission.”
One of the Soldiers who participated in the virtual training was Army Reserve Spc. Christina Hutchinson, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist and native of Columbia, South Carolina, assigned to the 371st Chem. Co., 457th Chem. Bn., 415th Chem. Brig. “The convoy training gave me the opportunity to run through the motions and hone my communications skills to better prepare me for doing a mission like this in the future,” she said. “The land navigation portion was a great refresher and really reminded me of what I needed to do. I think if I had to do it now, I would do better than I did in basic training.”
“With the amount of time they had, the Soldiers did very well,” said Pickney. “The overall intent was not to get familiar with the specific software we use, but to understand the value of the training and that’s what they were able to do.”
Another valuable training opportunity was a three-day Combat Lifesaver course where about 20 of the unit’s Soldiers learned crucial lifesaving skills.
“I think the CLS training has been going really great,” said Army Reserve Spc. Arriyanna Whitaker, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist and native of Columbia, South Carolina, assigned to the 371st Chem. Co., 457th Chem. Bn., 415th Chem. Brig. “This is my first time doing this since basic training and it’s been a good refresher. I think this training is really important for every Soldier to know, because if you go to combat you need to be trained and ready to help your fellow Soldiers if something happens. You can’t always rely on a medic to be the only lifesaver because they may not be there, or they may be injured themselves.”
In addition to the training opportunities, the unit is also using their time to coordinate and ship approximately 30 vehicles from Camp McCrady to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin where they will be staged and waiting on the unit later this month.
Whether it was learning how to communicate in convoy operations, identifying IED threats, qualifying on individual weapons or learning life-saving medical skills, all of the Soldiers of the 371st Chem. Co., seemed to gain some valuable knowledge during their time here.
“Overall the training here has been good,” said Pugh. “It has been a good refresher for the Soldiers. They do a lot of chemical specific training at the unit, but this has given them the opportunity to refine their crucial warrior skills and helps prepare them and our unit for the upcoming CSTX.”