Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 399th (CST) Regiment Display the Resiliency of the Army Reserve During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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With all of the obstacles presented throughout 2020, the 4-399th Cadet Summer Training Battalion still executed its primary mission of supporting future leaders of character. Soldiers in the 4-399th CST Battalion typically spend a portion of their summer training ROTC Cadets during the Cadet Summer Training (CST), at Fort Knox, Kentucky. These Soldiers normally work throughout the year developing their skills as instructors and safety officers. During CST, they provide a long list of valuable skill sets ranging from Rappel Masters, Range Cadre, and many other support functions.

This year CST transformed into Operation Agile Leader to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and push execution down to the ROTC Brigade level or lower. This training modification severely impacted the ability for multiple ROTC programs to certify their Cadets on specific requirements necessary for Commissioning. To meet these requirements, the United States Army Cadet Command approved 7th ROTC Brigade’s plan to support all of its schools at Fort Knox in a mini-CST that would be wholly supported by the cadre from these schools and 4-399th CST Battalion soldiers.

In mid-July 2020, 192 Reserve Soldiers from 4-399th CST Battalion arrived at Fort Knox to support the 7th Brigade ROTC’s execution of Operation Agile Leader. For three weeks, these Soldiers trained Cadets on land navigation, pre-marksmanship instruction, marksmanship fundamentals/qualification, and tactical decision making during platoon patrolling operations. These Cadets also received automatic weapons training, conducted mission planning, small unit tactics lanes, and an 8-mile tactical road march, which culminated their Operation Agile Leader experience.

Though the majority of the 4-399th CST Battalion focused on supporting the 7th ROTC Brigade at Fort Knox, 24 Soldiers from 4-399th CST Battalion traveled to Camp Atterbury, Indiana to support a separate Operation Agile Leader event. These Soldiers provided two weeks of support to the University of Illinois’ ROTC program that consisted of pre-marksmanship instruction, marksmanship fundamentals/qualification, and tactical decision making during a field training exercise.

The 4-399th CST Battalion places a significant emphasis on professionalism and demonstrating the importance of the non-commissioned officer to mission accomplishment during these training events. Training events like Operation Agile Leader are often the first time Cadets will interact with numerous non-commissioned officers in a training environment. The professionalism of these experienced non-commissioned officers will provide Cadets with a look into the future of what they should expect from their platoon sergeants and squad leaders after they graduate and become platoon leaders.

The flexibility of these Reserve Soldiers provided invaluable non-commissioned officer, instructor, and training support to the United States Army Cadet Command at a time that Active Duty units were unable to provide the necessary support. 4-399th CST Battalion regularly supports marksmanship training, field training exercises, and Ranger Challenge events throughout the academic year for various ROTC Brigades and programs. Due to performance of the non-commissioned officers of 4-399th CST Battalion, the Battalion has been requested to habitually support numerous programs in the 7th ROTC Brigade throughout the academic year. The non-commissioned officer and Soldiers of the 4-399th CST Battalion continue to lead the way in developing future leaders for the United States Army during the COVID-19 pandemic and, in doing so, live up to the motto “Always Ready” found on the battalion colors. Operation Agile Leader 2020 has certainly highlighted the resiliency, professionalism, knowledge, and strength of a United States Army Reserve Soldier.

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