Army Reserve battle assembly training weekends are always filled with a range of events. From mandatory online training to weapons safety on the range, Reserve Soldiers are always training and on the go as they squeeze in a multitude of tasks in a short period.
Typically, these packed weekends revolve around Army Reserve Centers. However, for the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 321st Regiment (Basic Combat/One Station Unit Training), 2nd Brigade, 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training), one month stood out from the norm and took the Soldiers away from the Reserve Center at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Over 30 Soldiers dusted off their land navigations skills to find a new location for their February 2017 training weekend, and that was the Blowing Rock Conference Center in Blowing Rock, N.C. Being away from the military environment opened the doors for a different kind of training as well. So instead of military drills and tactical training, the Soldiers of 1-321st worked on building the mental toolboxes of its leaders by conducting classes on personal and professional development.
“This nontraditional battle assembly is what many Soldiers look forward to,” said Capt. Anthony Ramos, who is from Raleigh, N.C. and the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment commander. “Long gone are the days of the stereotypical training weekends where Soldiers just sit around an armory or drill hall.”
These kind of weekends are not just thrown together though. They require a great deal of planning and are part of the yearly training plans that include everything from field training exercises to Best Warrior Competitions to annual training tasks.
No battle assembly training weekend is complete without military traditions. The weekend began with the Soldiers assembled at the home of Col. (Ret) Ben Covington for a mixer. The event gave the Soldiers an opportunity to get to know each other a little more and gather together to celebrate the promotion of three of their officers.
The different environment opened the Soldiers up to unique opportunities and another perspective. One highlight stood out in the weekend, and that was a lecture by Thomas St. James, the author of the “The Elegance of Ruthlessness, How to Defeat ISSI and Regain U.S. Dominance in Military Evolution.”
St. James spoke to the 1-321st Soldiers about his book and his beliefs. “…I always believed that the first rule of warfare was that there were no rules. The point was to win; a pretty simple premise.”
Of course simple premises are not always easy, especially when people are new to the military. Taking the time to invest in Soldiers of the unit is one of the many factors for success James discussed in his book and with the Citizen-Soldiers who sat before him. Having great tools and training are critical for success he explained, but “your tools don’t matter if you don’t use them.”
“Leadership skills may come natural to people, but they still need to be developed and mentored,” said Lt. Col. Richard Halliburton, a Kingsport, Tennessee native and the commander of the 1-321st. “That is why my sergeant major and I have stressed the importance of delegation and leading from the front this weekend.”
The Army Family Team Building Vision Statement is “to develop strong, knowledgeable and engaged individuals and communities.” After a grueling day of briefings, members of the 1-321st left the convention center headed off to Appalachian Ski Mountain for some lift skiing and team building. Soldiers were provided with discounted lift tickets and skiing instructions. For many Soldiers, this was their first time skiing, so they took advantage of the instructions. Some others however, preferred to just sip cocoa inside the ski lodge.
The combination of events were just the right balance for team building and development said Capt. William Perdue, an Augusta, Georgia native and plans and operations officer.
“This weekend was a tremendous opportunity for our battalion. Not only did we build comradery, but we also learned from a legend of the battlefield. This is what I love about being the battle [plans and operations officer] – organizing events like this!”