News: Paralegal training course helps test Soldiers' skills
Story by Alun Thomas
FORT MCCOY, Wis. - Soldiers from throughout the Army Reserve and National Guard converged at Fort McCoy for a two-week Paralegal Warrior Training course, July 11-25, in order to sharpen both their paralegal and soldiering skills through a range of different events.
The training is a yearly voluntary refresher course that incorporates technical paralegal classroom work with troop movements and drills, said Sgt. Maj. David Becker, command paralegal of the United States Army Reserve Command.
“It all combines with a two-and-a-half-day exercise out at CACTF (Combined Arms Collective Training Facility) where the Soldiers move tactically, set up a JAG (Judge Advocate General) shop where we give them legal injects, claims missions and rules of engagement violations,” Becker said. “They have to work and come up with answers while overcoming OP-4 (opposing force) to put more pressure on them.”
The students enjoyed the layout of the training schedule and the variety of tasks provided, Becker said.
“What I’ve heard most is how they liked the tactical side, because they don’t get to do it every day at their units,” he said. “Basic troop movements … reacting to direct and indirect fire, they enjoyed the way we put them together with the paralegal activities in the class.”
Although everyone graduates the course, Becker said the main goal was to improve their overall skills, which the cadre was there to ensure.
“We work hard, even after duty hours, if anyone is struggling, because they have to pass a test,” Becker continued. “They have to maintain a certain grade percentage, but everyone here has done that. We have smart Soldiers, no doubt about that.”
The grading favors the technical part of their jobs, the stuff we expect them to know, Becker said.
“The tactical is to get them refreshed from basic training and deployments and get them familiarized with it again,” he added.
Taking part in the training course was Sgt. Betty Boyce, from Clackamas, Oregon, paralegal, Oregon National Guard, who said the training was more tactically based than she initially expected.
“Coming into the training, I thought it would be all classroom work in air-conditioned buildings: I’m happy to say I was wrong,” Boyce said. “Most of the training has been tactical, from 24-hour field operations to weapons qualification and land navigation.”
Boyce said the extensive field work is important for her, as being a paralegal sometimes makes such opportunities a rarity.
“I’m not used to being outside this much conducting warrior tasks, so this experience is one that can benefit me in the future,” she said. “I’ll take everything I’ve learned here both inside and outside the classroom and train my own Soldiers with it back home.”
Having volunteered for the course, Boyce said she recommends it any paralegal specialist seeking a challenge.
“It’s helped me become better not just at my job, but as a Soldier and leader,” Boyce said. “I’m glad I decided to attend.”