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    ‘Hurricane Battalion’ storms through pre-mobilization training

    ‘Hurricane Battalion’ storms through pre-mobilization training

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Aidana Baez | Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment and Troop A, 1st Squadron, 153d...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Aidana Baez 

    53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team

    STARKE, Fla. – Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment and Troop A, 1st Squadron, 153d Cavalry Regiment converged to conduct three weeks of pre-mobilization training at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Florida.

    Task Force Hurricane, comprised of 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, headquartered in Miramar, Fla, and Troop A, 1st Squadron, 153d Cavalry Regiment, based in Bonifay, Fla, is scheduled to mobilize to Fort Bliss, Tx and after the validation period will deploy to Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.

    “This is the first time we will be able to participate in a mission on the continent of Africa,” said Lt. Col. Julio Acosta, commander, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment.

    The task force will be a part of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.

    “The primary mission for the Task Force is to provide force protection, perform security operations in the Horn of Africa and to conduct military training engagements with partner nations,” said Acosta. “This mission is much more a security forces related mission and much more static than it has been, in years past, and it is in a completely different combatant command.”

    In order to perform their mission overseas, the task force must complete all pre mobilization requirements and be validated on post mobilization requirements.

    “The majority of the training we are conducting, or that we are projected to conduct, is individual Soldier readiness training,” said Acosta. “It is geared towards making sure the Soldiers are proficient in their Army Warrior Tasks as well as starting to build cohesiveness and proficiency into their collective level training.”

    “Once the Soldiers are proficient in their individual training then they will move to collective training within their teams,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jasen Pask, command sergeant major, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment. “Then they move to squad level and the echelons get bigger from there.”

    Task Force Hurricane will replace Task Force Seminole, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment in the Horn of Africa.

    “We benefited greatly by having been able to assist 2nd Battalion,” said Pask. “We were able to capitalize on those lessons learned allowing us to narrow down what exactly we wanted the Soldiers to focus on and what the training was going to be in order to meet that proficiency level.”

    Last year, the Hurricanes assisted their sister battalion, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment with their pre-mobilization training on Camp Blanding as they prepared to mobilize, conduct post-mobilization training and, eventually, deploy to the Horn of Africa.

    “Tough realistic training is necessary for Soldiers to gain self confidence, build confidence as a team and be individually or collectively confident with their equipment,” said Acosta. “The scenarios that are built into the actual collective level training, at Fort Bliss, are tied to the current mission in the Horn of Africa, so we have tried to replicate it, as best as we can, with the resources here at Camp Blanding.”

    The post-mobilization training conducted at Fort Bliss is a vigorous 45-day training period developed to mirror real scenarios and situations Soldiers may face while overseas.

    “Instead of extending IDT weekends from two days to three or four days, we decided to do a three week annual training period,” said Acosta. “To ease the burden on the families, civilian employers and the units, we consolidated everything into the three week period here at Camp Blanding. Basically, we made a one stop shop to meet all of the requirements without having to place undue burden.”

    “They enjoy being around each other and they enjoy being challenged by the training,” said Pask. “This is a great opportunity for Soldiers to learn where they fit in the organization, to build trust with their teammates and equipment, and their unit before we enter the next phase of the deployment.”

    While the Soldiers may not be fully validated to perform their mission, they are mentally prepared and motivated to perform their duties.

    “I think our Soldiers are mentally ready to go down range,” said Pask. “Our strength is our motivation, our willingness to serve our country and our determination to do whatever it takes.”

    Reacting to change is all a part of doing whatever it takes. Recently, the Army has embarked on the Soldier 2020 initiative. It is focused on filling units with the best-qualified Soldiers including units with specialties that were once closed to female servicemembers.

    “In 2010 we had female inclusion,” said Pask. “Female inclusion and the Soldier 2020 initiative has not negatively impacted unit cohesion or morale at all, in fact, it has enhanced it.”

    Females have been assigned to the Company E, Brigade Support Battalion, Forward Support Company, since the transformation of the 53d Infantry Brigade to the 53d Infantry Brigade Combat Team in 2006.

    I think everybody realizes the value of having a unit come together regardless of gender,” said Acosta. “It does nothing but improve the overall organization. It makes it better. It makes it stronger; I think we all can relate to each other better, so this is nothing but a win win for everyone.”

    Building a team and having cohesion isn’t just for Soldiers. Task Force Hurricane has held various events to build a support system for families and loved ones back in the rear.

    “Nobody wants to be separated from their loved ones,” said Pask. “But, our Yellow Ribbon event is a bonding opportunity; it is a chance for the families to put a face to the name.”

    Family readiness groups are another resource Task Force Hurricane uses to connect families with their Soldiers overseas.

    “During the Yellow Ribbon event, our family readiness group has the opportunity to reach out and make direct contact with the family,” said Pask.

    “Leading to the Yellow Ribbon we conducted a series of family readiness event to build the bond between the unit and the family,” said Acosta.

    With training underway and a new mission set before them, the commander and command sergeant major of Task Force Hurricane challenge the Soldiers once more.

    “Our motto is ‘Come Back Better’,” said Pask. “Our goal is, while we are performing our mission, that we encourage Soldiers to use their time wisely, to take civilian college courses or to take advantage of other military training opportunities.”

    “We need to do whatever it takes to be the first of the best,” said Acosta. “May that be the best in our military careers or the best in our civilian careers. Whatever it takes.”



    Date Taken: 03.07.2016
    Date Posted: 03.08.2016 08:41
    Story ID: 191519
    Location: MIRAMAR, FL, US 

    Web Views: 891
    Downloads: 1