GRAFENWOEHR, Germany –
More than 130 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from various units within the 7th Mission Support Command successfully concluded exercise Forward and Ready 20 during annual training at United States Army Garrison Bavaria, here, from July 25 to Aug. 9.
The 7th Mission Support Command is the only U.S. Army Reserve command stationed in Germany with units across Europe.
Master Sgt. Shawn W. Olson, 7th MSC operations Sgt. Maj., said that with international travel restrictions from COVID 19 hitting Europe back in March, prior annual training plans got scaled back immensely.
The command team had to make new plans in order to satisfy the unit’s yearly training requirements.
“We had to come up with an alternative plan for annual training and the commander at the time suggested that we do a consolidated annual training,” said Olson.
Olson said that the unit secured billeting and meals though the 7th Army’s Noncommissioned Officer’s Academy at USAG Bavaria, Grafenwoehr, and scheduled training time on its busy ranges.
Once the training location was settled, Maj. Kellam M. Carmody, head of 7th MSC operations, wasted no time beginning planning in April.
“He coordinated all the ranges and facilities and he also developed the training matrix based off of the commander’s guidance of what he wanted,” said Olson.
7th MSC troops successfully executed their training despite continuing COVID 19 restrictions. They locked down at USAG Bavaria’s Camp Normandy and adhered to mask wearing and physical distancing requirements during all phases of the training.
Upon arrival, Soldiers were also immediately grouped for COVID 19 screening through USAG Bavaria’s 7th Army Training Command medical team.
Once all of the unit’s Soldiers were confirmed free of COVID infection with no positive test results, an intense training period began over the next week and a half to include weapons qualifications for pistols, rifles and crew-served weapons.
The Soldiers also took refresher training in land navigation and tactical day and night blackout driving.
They ran through various obstacle courses including tactical road marches and experienced combat medical simulation ranges to bolster casualty survivability in a war zone.
“The primary focus was on safely conducting weapons qualifications as well as Army Warrior level one and level two tasks,” said Olson.
Level one and two tasks concern Soldier readiness at the individual Warrior level.
Active duty instructors from the 7th NCOA also supported the 7th MSC through further training in both land navigation and the new Army Combat Fitness Test.
Alongside the tactical training was an additional two-day Junior Leadership Certification Program emphasizing technical, ethical and professional development of the unit’s sergeants and staff sergeants.
Olson said the JLCP was designed to help junior enlisted sergeants improve their leadership skills. He also added that Soldiers learn where to find important Army resources as they move on in their careers.
Staff Sgt. DeShawn L. Daniel, a logistics NCO with the 7th MSC, recently joined the unit in December after 10 years of active duty service.
“I felt good about it,” said Daniel about the JLCP.
Daniel said he was impressed by the flexibility and poise of the Reserve Soldiers of the 7th MSC, who with their civilian careers off duty, don’t always have the benefit of military routine that is available to active duty Soldiers.
Near the conclusion of annual training on Aug. 4, the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, 7th MSC, hosted a staff ride to nearby Flossenbuerg Concentration Camp Memorial.
The site of the former World War II German Nazi work camp served as a learning opportunity for the nearly 50 visiting Soldiers who got reminded that personal moral character and the Code of Conduct remain a Soldier’s best guidance when faced with illegal or immoral orders from authority.
With the bulk of the training concluded by Aug. 5, 7th MSC Soldiers cleared their barracks and returned to their home station units to complete equipment and vehicle recovery and resume their civilian lives after taking off their uniforms following final formation.
Looking back on a busy two weeks, the commander of the 7th MSC, Col. Douglas A. LeVien, said the training was a success in helping the Soldiers of the 7th MSC show relevance and maintain readiness.
“The 7th Strong Soldiers have refined their war-fighting skills and built confidence in their junior leaders by operationalizing the “This is my Squad” outlook throughout daily operations and training,” said LeVien.