BRYAN, Texas –
A sunny day lent itself to the U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers of the Headquarters, Headquarters Company (HHC), 420th Engineer Brigade, as they tested their speed and teamwork in setting up a tactical operations center Feb. 8, 2020.
The Soldiers conducted setup and movement exercises for their Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter, or DRASH, during their battle assembly weekend to sharpen their skills in preparation for future operations.
“We're conducting muscle-memory exercises,” said 1st Sgt. Jennifer Villegas, first sergeant for HHC. “Specifically, we're pulling up our TOC, tactical operations center, to make sure that as we move forward, not only for next battle assembly, but for May when we do individual weapons qualification, and for annual training [so that] it has become standard practice for us to hone our skills: picking up a TOC, removing a TOC, performing a jump TOC, moving in and out of areas with our units.”
As Soldiers clamored around each other in an organized chaos, they expediently set up and moved large,18-person tents, hammered stakes, and unit equipment.
“As we change our tactics, techniques, procedures army wide,” said Villegas, “we're looking at facing near peer and peer adversaries, and the concern with that is they have the same capabilities as we do. With that said, we need to be able to move our facilities in and out in and expeditious manner.”
Throughout the fast-paced weekend, Pfc. Mustapha Otolorin, a food service specialist with HHC, said he appreciated the work and training value.
“[The Army Reserve] can be good for people,” he said. “It's for hardworking people, and I like to be a hardworking person.”
U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers contend with the challenge of switching from a civilian career on Friday and focusing on uniformed duty on Saturday, especially when they're staying the night in the very shelter system they assembled. The Army Reserve, like their active-duty counterparts, practice the adage “train as you fight.” The biggest difference is that they come with a wealth of external experience as civilians that they can apply on their battle assembly weekends and longer annual training periods.
Of this unique position, the 420th Engineer Brigade Executive Officer Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster said, “What I really enjoy about the Reserve is people bring more than their military training to drill. If you, as a leader, can leverage Soldiers' skills, [then] the Reserve Soldier really is twice the Soldier.”