If you Google “Band of Excellence Army,” you may be surprised that Army Doctrine Publication 7-0 Training, comes up as one of the top search results. In paragraph 4-7 of ADP 7-0, it states, “Once the unit attains required task and weapon proficiencies, it strives to maintain these proficiencies within a band of excellence.” It is difficult to maintain our individual band of excellence responsibilities as Soldiers and the competing interests we face as Citizen Soldiers. This feature will discuss some things we can all do to help us as individuals stay in the band of excellence.
ADP 7-0 paragraph 3-9 states that the key to combat readiness is sustaining training proficiency within the band of excellence and that such an approach “precludes deep valleys in task and weapon proficiencies that would require excessive time and resources to regain.” So how does that relate to us as individual Soldiers? It means that we cannot let ourselves or our units get unready, broken, or rusty in the key mission essential tasks that the Army expects us to be able to perform.
General Mark Milley, Army Chief of Staff, said, “Readiness is #1, and there is no other #1.” So as individual Soldiers in the 108th Training Command, how do we stay “Ready” and avoid the “deep valleys” mentioned in ADP 7-0 that would require excessive time and resources to get us combat ready again? First, we all have the personal responsibility to maintain our physical conditioning. No matter how great your unit does physical training, you cannot stay in shape by only working out with your unit during battle assembly weekends. Luckily, the 108th Training Command “pacing item” or key weapons system is our drill sergeants, who themselves are already elite and expected to perform at higher levels. The Army homepage states “A drill sergeant is a symbol of excellence in initial entry training, an expert in all warrior tasks and battle drills, lives the Army values, exemplifies the warrior ethos, and most importantly- is the epitome of the Army as a profession.” So in the 108th Training Command, we are fortunate that our drill sergeants hold themselves to a higher standard. Getting out of standard or out of shape are “deep valleys” to avoid. We are expected to take pride in ourselves, our unit, and the uniform we proudly have the privilege to wear. This responsibility requires each and every one of us to stay in good physical shape and maintain our height body weight within the Army standards. Maintaining our physical readiness is the first band of individual excellence priority.
In addition to physical fitness, we all have an individual responsibility to maintain our medical and dental readiness. Many senior leaders have made statements recognizing the importance of being deployable, so that we can play the away game (i.e. deploy to fight the enemy overseas in order to keep America’s homeland safe). In the 108th Training Command, all of us are expected to know when our Periodic Health Assessment and dental exams are due, so that we get them completed before they are overdue. Units that maintain high levels of medical and dental readiness are in the band of excellence for those metrics, but they stay in that zone by taking care of one Soldier at a time. Don’t let your battle buddy turn red on key metrics. Take care of each other and your Soldiers. Keeping our medical and dental readiness current would be my second individual band of excellence priority.
The number one priority of the 108th Training Command is to recruit, train, and retain drill sergeants. Our overall strength of drill sergeants has been steadily decreasing. If we don’t turn that trend around, it will take significant time and resources to fix it. Therefore, to be in the band of excellence, we need to all be recruiting every chance we get. We need to continually invite the best and brightest Soldiers from other units to come join us as a broadening assignment. In order for us to accomplish our mission, we need to increase our drill sergeant numbers. We all need to increase our efforts so that we help the 108th Training Command recruit, train, and retain drill sergeants—this will reduce the amount of time or resources training new drill sergeants in the event we get activated or deployed to perform our mission.
The 108th Training Command’s purpose is to produce the world’s greatest and most lethal combat weapon—the American Soldier. In order to accomplish that mission, we must keep ourselves and our Soldiers in the band of excellence on the key individual metrics such as physical fitness and medical readiness. However, as a Soldier in the Army Reserve, we have it more difficult than our active component counterparts, because we maintain full-time civilian jobs as Citizen Soldiers. For most of us, our family is not located near our unit, which means the traditional family support channels are not as available. In addition, most of us have civilian jobs and responsibilities consume our days. Being in the band of excellence means we have to balance Army readiness requirements with family life and our full-time civilian jobs. If we let any one of those three areas (Army, Family, and Civilian) consume too much of our time, it will smother the other two areas. Being in the band of excellence as an Army Reserve Soldier means we have the right balance between our Army duties, family obligations, and civilian job responsibilities.
Lieutenant Gen. Charles Luckey, Chief of the Army Reserve, said, “The Soldiers of America’s Army Reserve have never failed to answer the nation’s call. Today, we continue to build and sustain the most capable, combat-ready and lethal Federal Reserve force in the history of the nation.” We all need to do our part and stay in the band of excellence on those areas that take excessive time or resources to regain, so that if called upon, we can answer our nation’s call and be ready to deploy, fight and win and be able to accomplish the 108th Training Command’s mission in training our nation’s future Soldiers.