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NEWS | Feb. 24, 2017

If you stay ready, you won’t have to get ready

By Sgt. Elizabeth Taylor 200th Military Police Command

A call for readiness in the Army is nothing new. It’s as old as the Soldier’s Creed.

The opening line of that creed cries out with a call to be disciplined, physically and mentally tough. The creed builds with a desire as Soldiers to stand ready to deploy. To destroy the enemy.

These are not just words from a slogan shouted in formation. They’re a promise of readiness to oneself, to one’s unit and country.

It takes effort and commitment to uphold those words.

That’s why command sergeants major from across the 200th Military Police Command gathered for a weekend symposium in Los Alamitos, California, Feb. 15-18, to discuss proactive strategies to improve overall unit and Soldier readiness in their U.S. Army Reserve formations.

Approximately 25 senior enlisted leaders participated in the forum, from first sergeants up to command sergeants major.

The initiative comes in response to a memorandum by the U.S. Army Reserve commanding general, Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, who wrote, “Combat readiness begins before collective training. It starts with you, the American Soldier.”

In that memo, Luckey wrote about the importance of Soldiers perfecting their skills, being physically fit, mentally tough and determined to survive on the battlefield.

In the U.S. Army Reserve, Soldiers have the added challenge of finding balance between their civilian obligations and their military lives. Being ready, for them, takes extra effort.

“Our leadership is challenged with identifying sustainable measures to keep formations at a level of readiness needed to remain a relevant force that meets the needs of today's emerging challenges and potential threats,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Owens, the senior enlisted advisor for the 200th MP Cmd., who also spearheaded this forum.

The 200th MP Cmd. is headquartered in Fort Meade, Maryland, but it has 14,000 Soldiers spread out across 155 units and 33 different states. Readiness is a challenge Owens wants to conquer through unity, and that’s why he decided to host the symposium.

Owens said his intent is for this forum to continue on a quarterly basis moving forward, to stay ahead of the readiness trends for the good of the Army and the good of their Soldiers.

Sgt. Maj. Angel Ortiz-Guzman, from the personnel office at the U.S. Army Reserve Command, came as a guest speaker. He discussed trends and provided live, raw data on areas vital to overall readiness: Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification, height and weight standard and medical readiness.

“There needs to be leadership emphasis to ensure that the soldiers focus on those things,” said Ortiz-Guzman.

He also stressed the importance of leadership reaching out directly to Soldiers who become disengaged, and to make a personal connection with them.

“It is hard to help someone when we don’t really know what they are going through,“ said Ortiz-Guzman.

Effective leadership requires hand-on efforts, he said. That’s a difficult task when the majority of these Soldiers lives happens away from the units and their military mentors.

“I hope to bring back to the battalion the importance of being prepared,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Shelita Taylor, 400th MP Battalion, located at Fort Meade. “I want to let my Soldiers know firsthand the things that we’re doing very well individually and collectively and things we need to work on and improve.”

Leadership will work to hold Soldiers accountable to meet the standards, she said.

“At the end of the day, it is very important to know what the left and right limits are, and what we are capable of individually and as a team, so that we can do the jobs that we are here to do,” said Taylor.

The forum also incorporated a Military Police High Physical Demand Testing Analysis event, which is a requirement for all Soldiers to before entering the Military Police military occupational specialty.

The test requires Soldiers to wear approximately 80 pounds of personal equipment, to include uniform, helmet, body armor and weighed ammo pouches, then carry an MK-19 grenade launcher from at the waist at least 100 feet in distance.

“It was important for us as leadership to do this test so that we can feel and see firsthand what our Soldiers goes through every day (in) our military schools,” said Taylor. “ It will also allow us to mirror our training that we impart to our Soldiers on a routine basis to impact their strengths and abilities to take and pass the test.”

Leading by example will bridge the gap between the ranks and reengage the troops.

“I hope to take back the concept that we are all in this together,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael John Lacuesta from the 387th MP Bn. in Scottsdale, Arizona.  “Not just senior enlisted personnel, but every position … All the way up to the lieutenant colonel, all the way down to the private. Everything that we do affects all of us.”