News: Operation Sustainment Warrior on Course for 2014
Story by Sgt. Christopher Bigelow
CORAOPOLIS, Pa. - Soldiers from Army Reserve commands from across 14 states will come together this August at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., to improve their combat readiness and maintain their skill-sets as part of Americas premier fighting force in an extended combat training exercise known as Operation Sustainment Warrior.
“Operation Sustainment Warrior is the 377th Theater Sustainment Commands answer to the dilemma of meeting the requirement of providing 14 days of active duty training to every Army Reserve soldier every year,” said Brig. Gen. Bud R. Jameson Jr., commanding general of the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), an Army Reserve unit based in Pittsburgh.
According to Jameson the goal of the exercise is to create a meaningful readiness and training event beyond the home station capability of some soldiers' units.
Troops participating in OSW 2014 will complete weapons qualification, a Combat Lifesaver (CLS) course that includes airlift/casualty evacuation scenarios, land navigation, a Virtual Interactive Combat Environment simulation (VICE) trainer, squad-level immersion lanes, HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT), and a culmination exercise of convoy combat lanes scenarios similar to operations expeditionary soldiers might face in a deployed environment.
"OSW 2014 is going to be a combat multiplier keeping soldiers in their reset year trained and motivated for continued service in our Army Reserves. The focus on Warrior Training Tasks, Leadership, and individual preparation will leave them wanting another round.
The extensive planning and preparation by the 655th staff began immediately at the end of OSW 2013 and has been continuous," said Col. Deborah Kotulich, Commander 655th Regional Support Group, the Army Reserve unit hosting OSW 2014. Adding, “We are planning for 1,500 soldiers, three-times the amount of Soldiers who attended OSW 2013.”
In addition to building individual warrior skills, OSW prepares soldiers in ways most home station training cannot, with both a Soldier Readiness Preparation and a career fair, ensuring every Soldier returns to their unit both medically and physically better prepared as a warrior citizen.
“OSW is a place where in two weeks a soldier can get their readiness on both levels, on the civilian side they can get a job and become more effective and take care of their families, on the readiness side Soldiers leave OSW better equipped both medically and physically up to standard,” said Col. Joyce B. Junior Commander of the 77th Sustainment Brigade and sponsor of OSW 2013.
“The OSW training experience is incredible,” said Capt. Laura Sampsel, the tactical intelligence officer with the 655th.
Sampsel, an OSW veteran of two years, is looking forward to the upcoming operation in August and the wide array of training opportunities for the soldiers that will make OSW 2014 the most ambitious one to date.
In keeping with the DoD’s total force policy that recognizes Reserve forces as an integral part of military operations, not a force of last resort, OSW includes combat exercises designed to enhance each soldier’s warrior tasks, and refresh the leadership skills of the Non-Commissioned Officers and Officers participating in the exercise.
“When soldiers return home to their units they’re trained,” said Command Sgt. Major Michael Bolduc, the Command Sergeant Major of the 316th ESC, adding, the goal of OSW is to bring every participating expeditionary soldiers readiness and training levels up to and beyond the Army standard.
OSW 14 is a unique opportunity that fully leverages resources in a fiscally constrained military environment, said Lt. Col. Ike Kim, the OSW planner for the 655th RSG.
Operation Sustainment Warrior 2014 not only reinforces Warrior Training Tasks that markedly improve soldier's proficiencies at the individual, crew, and team level, but also provide the dynamic integration of Joint Military Services (Air Force and Marines) and International Military Cooperation and involvement in order to more fully train soldiers in their RESET year and make them deployable to any contingency worldwide, said Kim.
“OSW enhances reservists’ warrior skills in an interactive new way,” says Sampsel. Adding, “The training is fun and exciting, it brought the soldiers assigned to my temporary OSW company together as a team and gave us the opportunity to be the soldiers that we wanted to be and do things as soldiers in the Army.”
The OSW 2014 career fair will feature military employment enablers such as ESGR and H2H, along with colleges, universities and dozens employers looking to hire soldiers, many on the spot. In addition, professional development training will be available on cover letters, resume writing and interviewing techniques. Last year over 30 soldiers were able to obtain positions through the job fair.
OSW 2014's exciting and dynamic training will address retention by inspiring and motivating soldiers by reminding them of what it means to serve in the Army Reserves, said Kim.
According to Command Sgt. Major Sammy Sablan, the Command Sergeant Major of the 77th SB, soldiers successfully used training simulators like the VICE, and HEAT trainers to build their small group communication skills, and learn to incorporate squad and platoon leader interaction as a way to increase team building.
“Going forward we have to be more creative in the type of training that we give to our soldiers, we have a younger generation that’s more in sync. Our soldiers are actually sending back videos to their friends and families saying I’m having fun and I’m learning while I’m out here,” said Junior.
“Each year that I have participated in OSW has been bigger that the last. I’m sure that OSW 2014 will provide even more opportunities and the outstanding level of training for service members that I have come to expect,” said Sampsel. As an example, this year soldiers will be given the opportunity to earn the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge.
“My goal for this training is to send soldiers home more ready and more enthused about the Army Reserve than when they arrived,” said Jameson.
“I believe that OSW is the best model for the Army Reserve to meet its training requirements, it’s constructive, cost effective and it revitalizes the force,” Jameson added.