Reaper Battalion prepares for year-long mobilization
By Capt. Antonia Greene, 174th Infantry Brigade
For 2nd Battalion, 309th Regiment, stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., this is no ordinary two-week annual training at home.
"This year we are preparing for a year-long mobilization at the joint base scheduled to begin November 1st, " said Army Maj. Shawn Sebrell, commander, 2-309thTraining Support Battalion. "We are conducting final preparations for our mobilization and will be responsible for training deploying service members, in conjunction with our partner active component battalions. "
2-309th TSBn is one of six U.S. Army Reserve units subordinate to the 174th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East.
The battalion’s scheduled mobilization is in line with the Army’s Forces Generation model or ARFORGEN. By tapping into the Army’s total strength in its Reserve Component formations, the rationale is that the Army can better leverage its forces to sustain a heightened operational tempo.
Sgts. 1st Class Edwin Gonzalez and Jason Smith of 2nd Battalion, 309th Regiment (Training Support), 174th Infantry Brigade train Combat Life Saver tasks as part of CLS certification at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. June 6. Sgt. Peter King, combat medic and instructor with 1st Battalion, 314th Infantry Regiment validates the soldiers are trained and proficient. The soldiers are preparing for a year-long mobilization scheduled to begin Nov. 1. Hi-resokution image available
"Using the Army Force Generation Cycle to plan the mobilization of our Reserve Component units allows us to provide predictability to reservists, their families, and employers,” explained Col. Craig A. Osborne, commander, 174th Infantry Brigade. “Each of our six reserve battalions knows specifically what year in the future they will be in the ‘available year’ and the training required to reach that level of readiness is very clear. "
Mobilizing more than 100 Soldiers assigned to 2-309th TSBn enables the 174th IN Bde. to better manage and maintain its training strength numbers and source more off-site trainer/mentor mission requests. Developing a confident, proficient and professional instructor force is one of the 174th IN Brigade’s five core competencies. Given the brigade’s primary mission of executing post mobilization training for a variety of services and individual augmentees, the necessary training 2-309thTSBn needs to ramp up is already laid on.
"The Train/Ready phase was easily planned and coordinated after we were notified in January,” said Sgt. 1st Class Walter Geiger, training and security manager for 2-309th TSBn. “Our soldiers are teaming up with the current trainer mentors out on the lanes for the next two weeks plus and learning on the go. "
During annual training, several 2-309th TSBn Soldiers are certifying as instructors, attending the two-week Army Basic Instructor Course at the joint base. Others are certifying as Combat Life Savers, licensing on the Humvee and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. Many Soldiers are observing and mirroring the current trainer mentors on a variety of training lanes including Army Warrior Tasks such as map reading and land navigation.
"By readying ourselves now to augment and replace our active component counterparts a few months down the road, our peer training today will help our transition go smooth in November, "added Geiger.
The majority of the Soldiers scheduled to mobilize later this year are volunteers. Many have already served as trainer mentors on the mobilization training lanes and others are proud to execute their war time mission."We have a good mix of combat arms and support Soldiers in the unit, and most have previously deployed.,” said Sebrell. “Their previous experience and the regular proficiency training we conduct, helps us maintain our qualifications to be trainers and keep relevant. "
"Today we are training and also learning the program of instruction and certification process with the Combat Life Saver instructors, " said Sgt. Maj. Dale Hanavan, 2-309th TSBn sergeant major. "There is no greater responsibility than to properly prepare and train soldiers going downrange. " Hanavan served in Desert Storm and most recently with 2nd Battalion (Logistics Support) 313th Regiment, also part of First Army Division East.
Sgts. 1st Class Edwin Gonzalez and Jason Smith, both former liaison officers and training lane instructors years past admitted they missed wearing the uniform everyday.
"We were both mobilized together training Army tasks and served as liaisons for deploying units,” said Gonzales. “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 Sebrell. "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. "
The majority of the 2-309th TSBn Soldiers are within local commuting distance to the joint base and going home to their families and friends on a regular basis is invaluable.
"Mobilizing a unit that is assigned to the joint base provides a greater amount of support for our Soldiers as they transition from civilian employment to full-time status as a Soldier, "explained Osborne. "Clearly, whenever a Soldier deploys to a stateside or overseas location, the separation from friends and family is a significant element to consider; since the majority of Soldiers mobilizing live reasonably close, some will be able to maintain their own residences while performing their duties, and all will be able to have frequent, if not daily, contact with their families and friends. "
174th Infantry Brigade mobilizes, trains, validates, and deploys service members for missions around the world. Its subordinate battalion, 2-309 TSBn is scheduled to support this mission beginning Nov. 1.
“Providing mission relevant training is our brigade’s mission and the Army is moving towards more contingency-based training rather than combat deployment training and we must remain agile, trained and ready for whatever comes in the future,” explained Sebrell. “Our battalion continues to increase our trainer certifications and build the practices of how we will operate while we are mobilized. We are anxious to perform our mission and looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.”