Story and photo by Sgt. Grady Jones
3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
The calls went out to Soldiers at 1 a.m., letting them know they had two days to prepare for a deployment that could take them anywhere in the world.
Leadership from Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, conducted a two-day deployment rehearsal training exercise, June 11-13, as part of an ongoing series of training to fulfill the unit’s role in support of the Global Response Force.
“It’s a real-world deployable mission,” said Maj. Brian Schoellhorn, executive officer, 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Reg. “It’s a good mission for unit training, especially as a heavy force. We’re using it as an opportunity to train on things that we haven’t trained on in a while.”
The purpose of the Global Response Force is to have a unit able to quickly deploy and execute Decisive Action Operations requiring a rapid response.
“The GRF provides the Army the ability to fulfill missions in both conventional warfare and humanitarian assistance, such as disaster relief or evacuations,” said 1st Lt. Trent Ervin, platoon leader, Company A, 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Reg.
With the closure of counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and the current drawdown in Afghanistan, Company A, 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Reg., has assumed the mission in support of the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
The mission of GRF is different from the Army’s counterinsurgency focus of the last 12 years, requiring Soldiers and units to brush up on some older skills, Schoellhorn said.
“The GRF mission is an important responsibility. We’re happy to have the chance to have that responsibility,” he said. “Rapid deployment with tanks, Bradleys and all that comes with it, are skills and mission sets that we haven’t practiced in a long time.”
Day one of the training event covered personnel readiness, during which Soldiers verified and updated records, life insurance policies and sought legal assistance for help with items such as powers of attorney.
Day two covered loading of equipment, including Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, onto heavy equipment transporters.
The Soldiers have been training for the mission since April, and assumed full responsibility for it in May. They have encountered different challenges to ensure they are ready.
One challenge for Ervin was figuring out how to effectively manage and use the unit’s resources, which include a platoon of Abrams tanks, one with Bradley fighting vehicles and another of dismounted Soldiers.
“It was difficult to prepare for the plethora of things that we might encounter,” said Ervin. “Understanding how to coordinate all those efforts into one (effort) was a challenge.”
Getting time to train and discuss the capabilities and limitations of equipment and personnel with fellow unit leaders helped to overcome those difficulties, Ervin said.
Even at the lowest level, they felt that they can accomplish any mission.
“My platoon still trains and performs their duties as directed,” said Ervin. “Yes, we’re fit and ready to go to answer any call we may get.”
One of the exercise’s main goals was to practice coordinating with external military and civilian supporters of the mission. The 43rd Sustainment Brigade and Fort Carson Directorate of Logistics are among the elements providing support to prepare Company A, 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Reg., in its GRF mission.
“We are here to support the units,” said Shanette Thornton, movement branch chief, Fort Carson DOL, who said exercises like this help prepare the units for the actual mission.
“The 43rd SB and DOL really have done an incredible job,” said Schoellhorn.
Spc. Travis Doody, M1 Abram tank crewman, Company A, 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Reg., said Soldiers have confidence in their training and their leadership as they prepare for the GRF mission.
“Our leadership is doing a really good job with guiding us,” he said. “They’re showing us the ropes, getting us ready for deployment and going over crew drills (repetitively). I feel 100-percent prepared.”