News: Individual Readiness Training prepares soldiers for rapid deployments
Story by Spc. Alexander Neely
FORT BLISS, Texas - Fort Bliss is scheduled to mobilize and deploy more than 5,000 Soldiers to places such as Afghanistan, Qatar and Kuwait over the next year.
In years past, soldiers were given brief notifications prior to their deployment with only mere days to prepare.
However, in June 2009, Fort Bliss created the Individual Readiness Training program to prepare soldiers who may get rapid deployment orders.
“It used to be that a soldier would receive a letter and 24, 48 or 72 hours later you were on a plane, but now the units have the opportunity to take a step-by-step approach for preparation,” said John J. Franklin, an instructor for the IRT program.
In the beginning, IRT, which occurs once every month, was a 15-day program that took place Monday through Sunday.
IRT, which is now a 10-day program, consists of land navigation, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle Egress Assistance training, combative drills, battle drills, improvised explosive device training, first-aid, weapons qualification, as well as, a myriad of classes.
“I think overall the refresher information and hands-on experiences have been good, but the IED training was enlightening on another level,” said Pfc. Jose J. Amaro, a behavioral health technician for the 219th Medical Detachment.
Franklin said the IED training is considered the most important day of instruction; a statement only intensified when according to the United Nation Assistance Mission in Afghanistan Midyear Report 2011 attacks increased by 15 percent.
Amaro, who is preparing for his first deployment, said he believes the intensity of the HEAT was also something he will not forget.
“For sure, the Humvee roll was the most intense experience,” said Amaro. “You see situations like that in movies and I realized in the HMMWV that we may go through it.”
Franklin, a 22-year veteran of the Army, said that while training each soldier is important, the combination of different ranks and experience in the program helps soldiers prepare for their first deployment.
“Experienced soldiers, with multiple deployments, have told me in the past they don’t feel they need to participate in the course,” said Franklin. “However, I tell them, their experience benefits the course and mainly the soldiers going on their first deployment.”
Franklin, who mentioned this might be his last year as an instructor for the program, said he will relish these past few years even more than his Army career.
“I am really proud of everything we have accomplished here at the IRT program,” said Franklin. “I spent 22 years in the Army and that satisfaction doesn’t even compare to training America’s best men and women.”