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Freedom Ride: Soldiers compete to win it all

By Pvt. Hunter Eastman | 362nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachmen | April 9, 2019

ARMED FORCES RESERVE CENTER LONDONDERRY, New Hampshire —

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment, 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training), 108th Training Command (IET), competed in a freedom ride April 4-7 at Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

The freedom ride was designed to prepare the battalion for an upcoming annual training (AT) event at Fort Benning, Georgia, to help Soldiers' readiness in training incoming recruits at Basic Combat Training (BCT). 

“Weʼve got about nine different stations and all of them are basic 10-level tasks, something that every Soldier, regardless of rank, should be able to do,” said Lt. Col. Michael Child, commander of the 1-304th. “This is allowing our drill sergeants, drill sergeant candidates and all of our leadership who arenʼt in those roles to master those 10-level tasks for when we go down in support of the basic training mission at Fort Benning.” 

Basic 10-level tasks are skills every Soldier is expected to know after graduating BCT and some of these skills include land navigation, medical readiness, physical fitness and weapon proficiency. The battalion took those ten-level tasks and implemented them into their freedom ride to prepare their Soldiers.

“Itʼs so mission critical to maintain the basic 10-level tasks because if you donʼt know how to do something when you go down range, as in deployed, even the smallest of tasks, how are
you going to learn the biggest of tasks,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Colson from C Company, based in Saco, Maine. “If you can maintain the basics you can then go on and maintain the intermediate tasks and the advanced level tasks.” 

Throughout the weekend, Soldiers faced adverse weather conditions such as frigid temperatures, wind, snow, and rain. That did not stop Soldiers from completing their mission and working together in an effort to make themselves ready for their upcoming AT.

“We have some really outstanding drill sergeants who are always helping each other to maximize training value, and while there is a friendly competition, there is certainly a high degree of helping each other out between all the non-commissioned officers (NCOs),” said Cadet Mohamed Elmaola, a former enlisted Soldier, now an officer in training, from A Company. “Everyone can help each other be more prepared,” he said.

Soldiers of the 1-304th were able to use their knowledge to help lead fellow Soldiers while learning new ways to better implement training methods in the future.

“[The freedom ride is] helping our NCOs because itʼs reinforcing some of the things we know and some of the things weʼre expected to know,” Staff Sgt. Brian Scott, a senior drill sergeant, from A Company, said. “For some of the lower enlisted, the ones who are becoming NCOs, it shows them what we do and what they need to brush up on and be stronger in, so when they go to drill sergeant school they can be better prepared.” 

The 1-304th brought the entire battalion together to train, learn, work hard and get down to the bare-bones of what it means to be a Soldier and thatʼs to be ready at all times.