GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas –
What if you had a virtual battle assembly and the commanding general of the Army Reserve showed up? Virtually, of course. That’s exactly what happened when Chief of Army Reserve Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels and Command Sergeant Major of the Army Reserve Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Lombardo crashed a virtual battle assembly to interact with Soldiers of the 721st Engineer Construction Company (ECC), Nov, 7 2020.
Daniels spoke about two topics: the required documents for the enlisted Soldier promotion packet and preparation for the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). Daniels wants to make sure the force is educated on what truly is part of a promotion packet and what needs to be in there. The updates from the Chief Army Reserve provided reassurance to the Soldiers listening.
Daniels said she wants Soldiers’ promotion packet turned in only once to go all the way through the submission process without being returned. This will put an end to the “rinse and repeat” cycle. “People get frustrated when it comes back over and over again for things that really just aren’t that important or were never a requirement for the packet in the first place,” she said.
“How many pieces of paper are required for an enlisted Soldiers’ promotion packet? The answer is one,” explained Daniels. “The only piece of paper that needs to be turned in is a mileage statement. Everything else is online. The Soldier needs to go in and check their record to make sure everything else is accurate in the system.”
Daniels also asked the Soldiers to carefully consider how far they are willing to travel when completing their mileage statement. “If you don’t turn in a mileage statement, it defaults to 50 miles at the moment. What that causes to happen is for a number of Soldiers who are already in a unit more than 50 miles from their home of record means they are not eligible for promotion in their own unit,” she said. “We found a lot of people didn’t realize this.”
The Soldiers with the 721st ECC said they found the information from Daniels to be very helpful. “I like the fact that she wants to eliminate the unnecessary paper trail,” said Pfc. Darion Peters, fire support specialist.
During the question and answer session Sgt. Kidanny Brito-Baez, horizontal construction engineer, asked Daniels for guidance on the ACFT.
She told the Soldiers to “get after it. Don’t expect, unless you are already super fit, that you are going to necessarily have a great score right out of the chute.”
“I do a ton of different exercises to work on my core. I work on being able to do different kinds of planks. I pick a variety of different exercises. I do runs of varying lengths. I do short hill runs and sprints up hills. I bought a pull up bar. I do pulls ups, chin ups, mixed grips, anything to strengthen my arms and my grip.” she said. “Have people critique you to make sure your form is correct.”
Daniels recommended Soldiers take two diagnostic ACFT tests to get the data into the system and not worry about their score since it will not be counted against them. “Until we get scores in there we have nothing really to back up the many challenges we have with the test,” she said. “Just go do it.”
Her comments resonated with Sgt. Jade Moore, Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) specialist. “I liked her take on the new ACFT. It brought awareness on how we should be preparing for the ACFT test.”
Lombardo also talked to the Soldiers about “This Is My Squad” and the importance of preparing for the ACFT. “Without a commitment to a training plan you will have a problem completing the ACFT,” he said. “What I’ve been doing is two-a-days to achieve the gold standard. You have to put in the time.”
The USARC command team surprise visit and discussion of concerns provided the Soldiers ease of what to expect in the months to come. The Soldiers with the 721st appreciated the Army Reserve leadership talking one by one with them.
“We get an opportunity to talk with someone at that level. From that interaction made the Soldiers feel important and valued. It raised the morale and showed that what we are doing at the company level doesn’t get unnoticed,” said Brito-Baez.