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    Plains Warrior training event hones in on individual readiness

    Plains Warrior training event hones in on individual readiness   

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Jason Lay | Oklahoma Army National Guardsman from each Major Subordinate Command (MSC) get back to...... read more read more



    Story by 1st Lt. Leanna Litsch 

    Oklahoma National Guard

    CAMP GRUBER, Okla. – No matter how experienced, mastering fundamentals is one of the key pieces in becoming better at whatever skillset one seeks, whether it’s in sports, education, military training, or anything requiring specific techniques.

    More than 160 Oklahoma Army National Guardsmen practiced their military fundamentals and techniques at Camp Gruber Training Center (CGTC) by honing in on individual readiness and Soldier skills throughout June 2017 during Plains Warrior, a two-week training event specifically designed for junior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in preparation for their Professional Military Education (PME).

    “Ultimately, the goal is ‘retain to train’,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Mitchell, the officer in charge of Plains Warrior. “We want each attendee to learn the skills necessary to make healthier choices, apply focused methods to improve their physical readiness, and to apply their Plains Warrior training towards the successful completion of either Basic Leadership Course (BLC) or Advanced Leadership Course (ALC).”

    The training focused on various physical and mental tasks with each individual, including land navigation, academics, leadership and administrative training, physical fitness and nutritional training, drill and ceremony, and more in order to re-introduce them to these basic Soldier skills.

    A large-scale exercise such as this requires a wealth of planning and personnel to ensure everything runs smoothly. Part of that includes staff members and senior NCO cadre members with a range of unit affiliations, Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) and experience.

    With Oklahoma’s enriched Native American history and the training named “Plains Warrior”, Mitchell chose to designate staff elements as “Lakota” and cadre elements as “Sioux” based on the Lakota Sioux saying, “Mitakuye Oyasin,” meaning “All My Relations”.

    “The saying is meant to convey the concept that we are all related in some way and that we are stronger because of that relationship,” Mitchell said. “Plains Warrior brought together Soldiers and leaders from every MSC and then began an intense two-week training plan that has become a great success. We at Plains Warrior may be from many ‘tribes’, but we are all of one spirit.”

    The idea of coming together as one team illustrates that for training such as this, each staff and cadre member plays an important role in developing Soldiers, regardless of their MOS.

    “It is beneficial to have cadre who are senior NCOs and who also have combat arms experience,” Mitchell said. “One of our best cadre members is a female E-7 who plays the clarinet in the 145th Army Band. The quality of the chosen cadre is more important than their respective MOS.”

    That female is Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Hamilton, a cadre instructor for Alpha Company, who said the training overall is fun and that the Soldiers are staying motivated.

    “I really, really enjoy it,” Hamilton said. “I’ve had a lot of fun since I got here and I’ve got a great company of Soldiers.”

    In order to develop as an NCO and climb through the ranks, each Soldier must complete a list of particular individual training, including Structured Self-Development (SSD), BLC, ALC, and more. To accomplish this, creators of Plains Warrior from the OKARNG’s training office incorporated elements of the BLC curriculum, Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, and FIT.

    Development at the individual level is an essential step for a unit’s overall mission readiness, for operations both home and abroad. That readiness includes maintaining each Soldier’s PME and the U.S. Army’s physical fitness standards.

    Guardsmen, commonly known as “Citizen-Soldiers”, hold dual roles; one as a civilian and one wearing the uniform. Because of that dual role, Guardsmen can at times fall behind on their individual PME for a variety of reasons, which is the central motive for Plains Warrior coming to fruition.

    For some Soldiers, Plains Warrior looked as if it would focus solely on physical training (PT), but when they arrived, their understanding quickly changed.

    “This wasn’t what they expected when they got here,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Stover, NCO in charge and operations sergeant major for Plains Warrior. “They thought it was going to be mostly physical fitness training, and it’s not. We do physical training (PT) every day, all day long, starting with PT in the morning, PT in the afternoon, but through the day the Soldiers are constantly moving, road marching, and working on basic Soldier skills”

    With the range of MOS’s, the need for re-introducing Soldiers on basic fundamentals required of them at the individual is evident, and Plains Warrior focuses on that re-introduction.

    “We’re trying to instill that, ‘hey, you’re a Soldier; no matter what happens, you’re a Soldier,’ so there are certain skills you have to have at all times no matter what your MOS is, and those are the types of skills and warrior tasks that we’re focusing on today,” Stover said.

    For those Soldiers participating in Plains Warrior, the training is highly beneficial in helping them get back to those skills, some of which they haven’t practiced thoroughly for years.

    "A lot of the stuff we haven't actually reviewed since my time seven years ago in basic training, like land navigation,” said Sgt. Seth Smith, Plains Warrior participant. “I do conduct land navigation every year, but I'm not as engaged as I would like to be. This [training] has been a change for the better.”

    After Plains Warrior, each Soldier will go back to their units and conduct a three-month evaluation on their continued progress.

    “When the Soldiers go back to their units, they will do a 30-60-90-day assessment to see if they continue on with the material we gave them, the education we trained them with, and if they continue on with their goals,” Stover said.

    Those assessments will also include the Soldier’s height, weight, APFT scores and overall readiness. From there, leadership with the OKARNG will determine if the Plains Warrior program will continue.



    Date Taken: 06.29.2017
    Date Posted: 06.30.2017 16:01
    Story ID: 239674
    Location: CAMP GRUBER, OK, US 

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