Operation Ready Warrior teaches Soldiers adaptability, leadership

By Cheryl Phillips | 88th Readiness Division | Aug. 27, 2020

FORT McCOY, Wis. —

Army Reserve Soldiers are learning how to adapt when integrating COVID-19 safety guidelines into training during Operation Ready Warrior underway here.

During Army Warrior Tasks training, Soldiers in six-person fire teams went through scenario-based lanes while wearing face masks during 90-degree temperatures and the heat index reaching 100 degrees or more.

The Soldiers from the 993rd Transportation Medium Truck Company, based in Lakeland and Palatka, Florida, learned how to communicate with their higher headquarters using situation reports. They also completed a nine-line medical report on an injured team member. They gained real-world experience during a scenario that saw them interact with local nationals, respond to an improvised explosive device in the road and react under enemy fire while on patrol through the woods of Fort McCoy.

The observer/controller reminded the Soldiers that everyone is a sensor; if they see something they should say something. That’s why communication was stressed, not only with higher but with each other.

Pfc. Alexander Stone described the OPW training as crawl, walk, run. “There’s a lot of live action training here. It’s faster paced than what we’re used to at our unit,” he said.

A member of the Army Reserve for four years, Stone explained that there is a lot of repetition during the training which reinforces key tasks. “I’m soaking in as much information as I can,” he said.

The 88M wheeled mechanic has learned to adjust despite the COVID-19 requirements. “The virus isn’t something we can’t fight,” he said. “Staying 6 feet apart, wearing masks – we have to adapt. We learn to work through the precautions” of COVID-19.

Stone likes the leadership roles he’s assumed during the training. In his civilian life, Stone is working toward a degree in cybersecurity from Florida Southwest State College, where he’s in his second year.

The best part of the training “is the sense of accomplishment. We’re going to need the training if deployed,” Stone said.

Sgt. Bryce Dickerson said the training is concentrated into a short two weeks. “We’ve trained on new weapons qualifications and the new Army Combat Fitness Test, along with lanes training. It’s good training that we usually don’t get at the unit,” he said. The training also “gives younger Soldiers the opportunity to step up and get into a leadership role.”

The 91B, wheeled vehicle mechanic, likes passing on his knowledge to younger Soldiers. “Great NCOs have pushed me to be better in the past,” something he’s now doing with his fellow unit Soldiers during ORW.

Dickerson has also adapted in a COVID-19 environment. “This is a new normal that we need to learn to live with. This makes you realize that you have to be ready for whatever comes next,” he said.

Unit readiness is enhanced as a result of ORW, with pre-mobilization being the next level. “The training is helping us get ready for the next phase,” Dickerson said.

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