DVIDS - News - Chemical Brigade conducts successful field exercise in the wake of the COVID environment

FORT STEWART, Georgia – More than 1,000 Army Reserve Soldiers from 16 states across the country recently banded together here to take part in a two-week field exercise called the Red Dragon.

The exercise, conducted by the 415th Chemical Brigade, 76th Operational Response Command, marked the first opportunity many units had been able to train together in a field setting since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

“This exercise was a field reintegration that allowed Soldiers to build teamwork, improve basic soldier skills, and improve their field vehicles,” said Col. Andrew Talmadge, brigade commander, 415th Chemical Brigade, 76th Task Force. “The aim was to rebuild basic warrior skills of the army for the troop and platoon level in order to develop and execute these skills according to the standard and to integrate these basic warrior skills into their MOS functions (military professional specialty).”

The exercise provided essential training for the brigade’s three organic battalions as well as one battalion of the 455th Chemical Brigade. It focused on six days of intense field training divided into seven different lanes. The tracks offered 15 platoons a day a multitude of challenging and varied training opportunities.

“The lanes were grouped according to platoon-specific capabilities, and each lane had a different scenario each day,” said Master Sgt. Jay Drucas, operations sergeant for the 485th Chemical Battalion and operations NCO for Task Force Eval, 415th Chem. Vol The first three days were specifically geared towards Army Warrior tasks. The second three days were a combination of AWT and their MOS specific training skills. The training design enabled each platoon to perform its specific missions while improving its AWT skills. “

The trains carried out 24-hour operations that carried out missions both during the day and at night. According to Drucas, the soldiers carried out over 200 sorties during the exercise and proved that the units can again conduct critical collective training safely and according to standards.

“Leaving the COVID environment and virtual battle assemblies and returning to a field training environment enabled soldiers to gain invaluable time for commanding troops while using external resources to gain critical feedback on their tactics, techniques and procedures said Drucas. “COVID still had an impact on how we carried out life support and conservation measures, but our containment measures were carried out very well. We had no cases of COVID during the exercise and were able to successfully conduct this exercise under field conditions. “

Another senior leader who viewed the exercise as a success was Command Sgt. Major Kevin Edwards, Command Sergeant Major, 485th Chemical Battalion, 415th Chem. Bde. “I think it was successful because we soldiers are getting soldiers out of the COVID mentality and could be soldiers again, ”he said. “At the beginning of the training everyone was a bit hesitant due to the COVID environment we have been in for the past year and a half, but when we started doing missions everything started to roll and motivation escalated throughout the formation. Soldiers could get off there and get on after training. It was also a great experience to get to know each other again face to face and to work together and connect not only at the small unit level but also across battalions and brigades. Personally, I am pleased that we have been able to get out of here and train more than 1,000 soldiers with no COVID-positive cases. It’s a big win and I’m pretty proud. “

“Over the past year, Soldiers have been frustrated because they wanted to train and couldn’t because of COVID,” said Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Hurst, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear observer, controller, trainer (OCT), 1st Army assigned. “Many of them saw this as a great opportunity to rebuild their skills. They were very focused on the training here and the motivation was consistently high. From the first to the last day of training, I saw a drastic improvement in the soldiers’ performance and adaptability. “

All of the soldiers who participated in the training seemed to take something positive with them. “COVID really took away these collective training opportunities,” said Sgt. Joshua Cushing, a platoon sergeant and a native of Jamestown, Pennsylvania, of 300th Chemical Company, 485th Chem. Billion. to take over as a sergeant major and to test my knowledge and skills. It really increased morale and strengthened the cohesion of the units. “

“After the first few days we got back into the groove and played like there had never been a break,” said Sgt. Shayne Hamilton, operations non-commissioned officer and native of Newburg, West Virginia, of 300th Chemical Company, 485th Chem Bn., 415. Chem. Bde. “Overall, I think it went well. The communication was great, we worked very well as a team and we did it. “

As the training session ended, Talmadge said he was very proud of all of his soldiers and what they had achieved. “All of the soldiers performed extremely well during the exercise,” he said. “Their motivation and their eagerness to move forward and develop their skills after training were phenomenal. We have had junior sergeants who have been the company first sergeants, and we have had very young officers running companies, and both of them have done very well. I have full faith and confidence that each of these units will continue to grow over time and build on what they have learned here. “

Training in the shadow of COVID did not seem to stop the units or soldiers from achieving their training goals, and at the end of the day Talmadge appeared satisfied with the outcome of the exercise. “Overall, I think this exercise was very successful,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for units that would come here and perform perfectly at the highest level. As many soldiers have said, we were out here removing the rust after spending almost 24 months in a virtual training environment due to COVID. I felt we had what I wanted; Increase the survivability of our soldiers on the battlefield in the shooting, movement and communication tasks. This exercise was important in many ways, but above all because it brought us all back together to train together, and we showed that we can successfully train together again despite COVID. ”

Recording date: 06/25/2021
Release Date: 07.01.2021 16:33
Story ID: 400254
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