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NEWS | Aug. 29, 2018

Study of WWII tactics helps 7th MSC junior officers develop military decision-making skills

By Capt. Doug Magill 221st Public Affairs Detachment

Junior officers from the United States Army Reserve’s one-star command in Europe developed their decision-making and leadership skills, Aug 16-19, with a staff ride to Aachen, Germany, and the Huertgen Forest to study the United States and German army's actions taken there during World War II.

The 7th Mission Support Command held two days of classroom training at the Kaiserslautern Community Activity Center, near the command’s headquarters on Daenner Kaserne in Kaiserslautern, before spending the remaining two days in the city of Aachen and walking the terrain in the surrounding forest, while being guided by historians from CSM Solutions.

The class was composed of officers throughout the MSC and its subordinate brigades. This included a large contingent of officers from the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, also headquartered on Daenner Kaserne, which placed extra focus on the civil affairs efforts that occurred during the time.

“This provides valuable exposure for junior officers to the art and science of war, and it’s human impacts,” said Col. Bradley Heston, 361st Civil Affairs Brigade commander. “It allows them to learn from the successes and failures of leaders and give them a deep perspective on the hardships and challenges of the officers and Soldiers called on to fight, and sometimes die, in unimaginably difficult circumstances.”

Aachen is located on the western edge of Germany, near a tri-border region shared by Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. The forest is just to the southeast of the city. The United States breached the Siegfried Line – also known as the West Wall – near Aachen and won the city in a series of fighting during an offensive occurring September – November 1944. Winning Aachen – the U.S. Army’s first major victory inside Germany – set the momentum for the final year and closing months of World War II.

Members of the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade took the opportunity to discuss Civil Affairs activities that occurred in the city after fighting had finished. The unit discussed topics such as working with the local population to rebuild a local government, and to restore order and local government services.

“Equally important is that our junior leaders apply these lessons to our modern operating environment,” Heston said. “In order to prepare themselves, and their Soldiers, to fight and win in any contingency.”