Prepping for the Surge


FORT JACKSON S.C. — The hot dusty terrain at Fort Jackson is a good representation for the conditions Soldiers training there may face in a real-world contingency operation.

In order to prepare for the realities of war, Soldiers must hone their skills, test their stamina, and face their fears or doubts. The Soldiers tasked with training and supporting them must do all of that at an expert level with supreme confidence. 

Soldiers from the 1-321st and 3-321st Infantry Regiments participated in the bi-annual Field Training Exercise (FTX) at Fort Jackson, S.C. on a hot, humid weekend in May. The 321st is comprised of Army Reserve Drill Sergeant units that support the Army’s Basic Military Training at places like Fort Jackson.

The units of the 321st support the ‘Echo Mission,’ named for the Echo Company, a company each Active Component (AC) Training Battalion establishes for the ‘Summer Surge.’ The companies are primarily staffed by Reserve Drill Sergeants and cadre. The Training Support Companies (3-321st) performs range support and training for the U.S. Army Chaplains School.

The number of Soldiers coming through BMT nearly doubles during the summer, as recruits enter following their graduation or attend between their junior and senior years of high school. The Summer Surge support requires trainers to be equally adept and qualified to train as their AC counterparts. These trainers maintain the highest readiness standards. The future of the Army depends on this.

“To create the best Soldiers, you must have the best trainers,” said Capt. Fernando Gorrospe, E. Co., 1-321st Regt. Commander. “These trainers create the next generation of Warriors.”

How do they accomplish this?

Twice per year, Soldiers from the training companies spend time on Basic Warrior Tasks and Training Objectives, to include weapons qualification, Situational Training Exercises (STX), and other associated events, like ruck marches and obstacle courses like the “Fit to Win.” Soldiers cannot rest solely on their experience nor regular unit Battle Assembly activities. The companies compete in a series of events for the Commander’s Cup, and for bragging rights.

For Soldiers, there is always an element of competition that inspires them to achieve even greater results.

“I just got out of the IRR (Inactive Ready Reserve), and I was nervous about being able to jump back in, but I was fired up to be around these guys,” said Sgt. Odyssey Martin, operations NCO for C. Co, 3-321st Regt. “This environment reinvigorates my love for the Army. The comradery, the accountability, the fun, made me feel alive again.”

Martin capped off a strong performance in the events by running out and calling cadence during the Battalion run at the end of the FTX. She said the events are fun, but the skills are vital to our success on the battlefield. They are also vital to the training mission.

“Our companies are out in front of Soldiers from the Active component, the Army Reserve and the National Guard,” she said. “If we aren’t fit and proficient, how can we get them to be?”

Any Soldier interested in becoming a Drill Sgt. should contact 1st Sgt. Jon Robinson, (828) 292-9931, Any Soldier interested in joining a Training Support Company should contact Maj. Anthony Von Plinsky, (803) 730-5960,

Capt. Michael Mascari is F. Co., 1-321st INF REGT Commander as a Reserve Soldier. He serves as the Director of Public Affairs for the 81st Readiness Division as a DA Civilian.


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