CAMP MCCRADY, S.C. — Soldiers and Sailors gathered at Camp McCrady, Eastover, S.C., for the Task Force Marshall transfer of authority ceremony Jan. 5, 2017.
The Task Force Marshall training mission formed in 2004, and the 108th Training Command (Initial Entry Training) took on the responsibility to provide a task force for the U.S. Army Reserve. Made up of a a battalion size element of drill sergeants along with civilians counterparts, the 108th Soldiers provide a 12 day basic skills refresher course to mobilized Individual Ready Reserve Soldiers.
In December 2005, the mission of TFM shifted and the 108th embarked on a new mission of providing the same training; basic rifle marksmanship and first aid, to U.S. Navy individual augmentees who are being deployed to many parts of the world, including the Horn of Africa, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan in support of the U.S. Army command missions in those locations.
Although transitioning from one unit to another usually involves a change of command ceremony, for Task Force Marshall a transfer of authority took place instead. Although not typical, it wasn’t surprising because TFM isn’t your average Army Reserve command.
“Transfer of Authority’s are an incredible experience where you have the relief in place by one formation to another,” said guest speaker Maj. Gen. Mark McQueen, 108th Training Command (IET) commanding general, “we’ve really been fortunate to have two battalions that are just premier within the 108th Training Command.”
Incoming commander Lt. Col. Karl J. Painter was especially enthusiastic about his new assignment.
“I think I am the first VMI (Virginia Military Institute) graduate to take over TFM, which is cool because George C. Marshall was a VMI graduate, he graduated in 1901,” Painter explained. “George Marshall is probably one the best Soldiers of the 20th century. To take over in his name, for me is a big honor. It’s exciting to be coming on board,” Painter concluded.
McQueen was equally enthusiastic Painter taking charge of TFM.
“LTC Painter is well versed and very experienced with what we do and what our mission set is,” said McQueen.
Part of the unique nature of Task Force Marshall is the diversity of people are involved ensuring the mission is a success.
“This is really a joint mission, we can’t do it alone,” said Painter. “We have the Navy, the Totalis Consulting Group that handles the S-1 and the S-4, and we mainly manage the training of the Sailors.”
Working together to support Task Force Marshall are the, S.C. Army National Guard, Army Reserves, Fort Jackson active duty drill sergeants, the TFM volunteer origination lead by Maj. Gen. George Goldsmith (retired), a prior 108th Commander, and the local USO.
“ It’s just so many different groups that come together to support this mission,” said Painter.
The transfer of authority was well attended, with generals from the Center for Initial Military Training, 94th Training Davison, and the 98th Training Division (IET), a fact not lost on McQueen.
“This underscores the combine collective effort of multi-compo formations that are coming together to meet a specific mission set,” he explained. “Training our Sailors to go into far reaches of the world to do Army tasks. It takes the total team, the joint team to be able to meet the nation’s requirements around the globe. Readying that force, the mission of Task Force Marshall, is critical to making that happen,” said McQueen.
Training the Navy in Army tactics places the Navy in uncharted waters.
“They work in a different environment,” said McQueen. “They’re an ocean force and what we’ve got is a land force. Bringing them on to the land and teaching them tactics and maneuvers such as ‘shoot move and communicate’ are important.”
For some Sailors, training with the Army is like navigating uncharted waters and they only have a few days to sail through. Although some are coming through TFM having mobilized before, some are coming through for their first time and have never even touched a weapon.
“We have 12 days to make them capable and competent,” Painter said. “Preparing Sailors who are going to maybe a FOB (Forward Operating Base) somewhere in Afghanistan or Iraq or going to the Horn of Africa.”
In those 12 days, the Sailors aren’t only learning, they are becoming proficient.
“They have to be able to qualify on a M4, M9 and be able to react if things go bad in a convoy,” Painter explained. “It’s making them comfortable with their weapon… we put them on a plane 12 days later and they go to their mission. You have 12 days to make it happen.”
Task Force Marshall isn’t a command where individual soldiers rotate come and go on assignment orders, instead it’s an entire detachment that mobilizes for one year and is then replaced by another detachment from within the 108th Training Command. This year, the outgoing detachment is from Puerto Rico while the incoming hails from North Carolina.
“Our teammates from Puerto Rico did a brilliant job this past year, they did a phenomenal job of doing the hardcore work of revamping the entire POI’s for the training that the Sailors go through and they were able to prove it and implement it,” said McQueen. “Our teammates coming out of North Carolina are ready, they’re ready to step in, and they’ve got great leadership teams in place. Now to extend that to our Sailors, as part of the joint force is a real testament to the capability of the 108th and each of our battalions that do the task.”
“It’s been a great experience and since the inception of Task Force Marshall, the 108th training command has consistently delivered premier drills sergeants and trainers to be able to prepare Sailors for deployments,” concluded McQueen.