You Name It, They’ve Got It: 104th Yearly Training Brief Showcases Grit, Tenacity and Resilience

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — Timberwolf leaders of the 104th Training Division (Leader Training) gathered in early March to discuss readiness and training that builds the lethal force of the Army.

They began arriving March 4 for the yearly training brief and mission back brief. Leaders and civilian staff from two brigade headquarters and headquarters companies based in Colorado and Kentucky joined the 104th’s command team and staff.

Brig. Gen. Rodney J. Fischer, the commanding general of the 104th Training Division (LT), and Command Sgt. Maj. Neil J. Pierce, division command sergeant major, oversaw the multi-day event at the division’s headquarters in the Coby Schwab Reserve Center. This year, a smaller venue was used due to COVID-19 restrictions affecting the number of personnel in attendance. While the in-person attendees were limited, the event was packed full of briefings.

Division special staff, sections and brigade leaders briefed in-person, while leaders and staff from nine Timberwolf battalions participated virtually via online platforms over the two days. Briefings were delivered successfully with only minimal technical difficulties.

The briefing lived up to its billing as described in the operation order to the units as “a forum for brigade and battalion commanders to not only brief and gain the commanding general’s approval of their (Fiscal Year 2022) Yearly Training Plan, but to also discuss subjects in line with current priorities, missions and the current operating environment. This dialogue will emphasize building unit readiness, future capabilities and mission focused training.”

After initial guidance by operations staff, the commanding general and command sergeant major made their opening remarks to formally kick off the event. Fischer welcomed all online and in-person participants in an enthusiastic and jovial manner and Pierce said he was “excited for the next couple of days…finally together wearing the uniform again.”

Speaking from his own YTB past, Pierce highlighted the importance of experiences that will go beyond the slide data, as the shared time together affords exchanging critical knowledge and best practices among attendees. The division command team also commented on and stated appreciation for the work of civilians, uniformed leaders, and all the 104th’s Soldiers do daily, especially considering the challenges of the past year. The resilience was noted as they both emphasized the support from the division to all the commands under its umbrella for all of the upcoming tasks and missions.

Fischer began his opening brief drawing from a variety of current military resources that included the National Defense Strategy and its critical components that cover large scale combat operations (Link).

The commanding general emphasized the serious challenges from adversaries that must be acknowledged, considered, and addressed, in line with the Chief of the U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels’ theme for the force: Ready Now, Prepare for the Future. “This speaks to what the Army Reserve is going to do to support the Army’s mission” he said.

Incorporated into Fischer’s brief was a slide presented by Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff G3/5/7, at the 2020 Army Modernization and Equipping Conference that covered transformational change. Changes identified as necessary are due to four demands on the Army, now and in the future: “Competition” with adversaries, “Crisis” in the form of diseases and disasters, “Conflict” with enemies and “Change”. “This speaks to what the Army Reserve is going to do to support the Army’s mission” he added. (Link). 

Fischer also emphasized the Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model, often called ReARMM (Link), and of particular interest to the 104th, where the division has direct influence over many of the 130,000 new Soldiers in initial training centers and cadet training programs.

“We’re the first thing (trainees) see about the Army in action so we’ve got to make sure that we have our Soldiers ready to go and that they’re providing the right example for them,” said the commanding general.

Over the next two days, one by one, brigades and battalion leaders presented their plans for the coming year and highlighted the grit and tenacity their Soldiers and staff displayed during the past 12 months. The efforts and resilience in the face of training Army leaders and its newest Soldiers in a COVID environment were acknowledged by the division command team, earning their praises.

Additionally, several division personnel were recognized at the end of the YTB. Maj. Mary Jane Porter, the division’s operations officer, and Master Sgt. Drew Williams, the assistant operations non-commissioned officer, were recognized for their efforts as the officer in-charge and non-commissioned officer in-charge of the briefings. “Covid kept throwing us [G3] curveballs, so there was a lot of work behind the scenes; scheduling and rescheduling, coordination with staff at our level and brigade too” said Col. Thomas Olsen, the G3 OIC.

Also, Mr. James Morrow, the staff operations and training specialist, extended his appreciation for the civilians that provide full-time support to the units. “Continuity and the important role that the civilian staff play in the organization…as their civilian counterparts we are the continuity,” he said.

The 104th is a part of the 108th Training Command (Initial Entry Training) and comprises nearly 2,000 Soldiers. The Timberwolves include two brigades and nine battalions located in five states: Washington, Colorado, Kentucky, Virginia and Maine. The Timberwolves’ mission is to provide leader training support to the United States Army Cadet Command, United States Army Military Academy, United States Merchant Marine Academy and select Reserve Officer Training Corps universities across the nation to build future leaders of the Army.

To see additional photos from this year’s YTB/MBB, go to the division’s FLICKR page at; https://www.flickr.com/photos/pao_104thtngdiv/albums
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