FORT DOUGLAS, Utah –
More than 50 senior Army Reserve leaders from around the country joined forces here recently to share knowledge, ideas and best practices in an effort to build individual and collective unit readiness in a three-day senior leader workshop held by the 76th Operational Response Command.
The event brought together all of the division’s brigade and battalion command teams that are spread out from coast to coast across the continental U.S.
“The intent of this workshop was to just get everyone together to share information between all the different unit commanders,” said Lt. Col. Justin Rauschenberg, event coordinator and deputy G-3, 76th Operational Response Command. “We also wanted to explain how we operate as a headquarters and get some feedback from the unit commanders on what can we get better at, and what can we assist them with.”
The first day of the workshop kicked off with opening comments from Maj. Gen. Miles Davis, commanding general, 76th Operational Response command, who welcomed the leaders to the event and provided his intent and guidance for the days ahead. Once Davis was finished speaking, he was followed by several guest speakers from outside commands who brought a wealth of information and experience to share with the group.
“The first day was mainly focused on individual career development and special development,” said Rauschenberg. “We brought in some really good speakers from the U.S. Army Reserve Command, Human Resources Command and the General Officer Management Office to give an opportunity to the brigade and battalion commanders to ask questions and figure out where they wanted to go with their career and what would best suite them.’
“I think it was important to bring in subject matter experts from other commands to give our commanders and everyone in the room a bigger picture of what we do, especially with all the different events going on right now, I think the information that was presented really opened people’s eyes that we truly are a part of something much bigger than ourselves, and it paints a bigger picture of why we do what we do.”
The second day of the workshop started off early with the Soldiers tackling a two-mile round trip hike up a steep mountain trail overlooking the Salt Lake City valley and the division headquarters. After the hike the team received various briefings throughout the day ranging from safety to collective training to budget updates. There was also an awards presentation for some very deserving Soldiers and command teams.
Throughout the workshop, the main theme of clear communication seemed to resonate through each event and was emphasized daily.
“We have dispersed units all across the United States and the unit commanders normally communicate through email or Teams calls or over the phone, but being able to bring all the commanders together for that face to face communication has really been invaluable,” said Rauschenberg. “There is a lot of great discussion that happened here and everyone got to know each other better, and how they operate and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
The final day of the workshop started with some competitive physical training events where brigade teams competed to see who had the most physical ability, determination and grit. Events ranged from push-up challenges to sprints to 90-pound sled drag competitions. After the physical fitness event the leaders received briefings from the division surgeon, the division human resources commander and the division staff judge advocate.
“Overall this workshop was an important event that allowed commanders to come together to share common practices and best practices for all the things we do within the division,” said Sgt. Maj. Richard Evans, operations sergeant major, 76th Operational Response Command. “It allowed the command teams to see and hear guidance straight from the commanding general and the command sergeant major. That was crucial in order to provide a common operating picture throughout the division. We put out a lot of different guidance over the course of three-days, but really the main focus of this was to get the command philosophy out there, and making sure we are providing the best guidance we can to help the command teams in supporting and leading their subordinate units.”
One of the senior leaders in attendance who found the event helpful was Col. Marc Statham, commander, 209th Regional Support Group and the Fort Hood Mobilization Brigade. “There was a lot of valuable information put out during the workshop,” he said. “I thought this was an excellent opportunity for the commanding general and the command sergeant major to synchronize command guidance on several key topics not only across the brigade command teams, but the battalion command teams as well. I received some direct guidance on issues this weekend that I found very helpful, and this was also a reminder for me to ensure that my company commanders know what I know when it comes to administering corrective actions and things of that nature.”
Everyone in attendance seemed to agree that the workshop was a valuable event that provided vital information and helped build cohesive teams.
“I think this has absolutely been a successful workshop,” said Evans. “Not only because we accomplished what we set out to do, but there were a lot of other activities involved that really help build that trust between subordinate commander and higher commander across multiple echelons, and that is key to any unit success in the Army.”
Evans and others agreed that hosting a workshop like this in future is something that definitely needs to happen.
“I think this is important to continue to do on a yearly basis,” he said. “It helps us get after the critical readiness goals and build command team relationships, but also helps to reinvigorate and rejuvenate our teams. It’s extremely important to keep all of our commands abreast of the latest guidance and changes that affect our formations throughout the year, and the best way to do that is really to get all these commanders together to share information and best practices across the formation.”
As the workshop came to a close, Maj. Gen. Davis took time to talk to the command teams and left them with some words of encouragement. “I know every commander says their unit is special, but this one truly is special,” he said. “There is no other formation like this in the Army, from the task force mission to space, to the chemical units, to the Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers, to the Consequence Management Unit, to the Army Reserve Elements, there is no other formation like this in the Army bar none. There is no greater team, and I’m immensely proud to be a part of this formation.”
Davis concluded by talking about the key elements of leadership and how important those are.
“The three keys to leadership are purpose, direction and motivation,” he said. “Those are the keys to leadership, and those are the keys we owe our Soldiers. We have the greatest Soldiers in the Army, and I view you as the greatest leaders in the Army. Keep living that expectation, keep driving, keep leading from the front, keep being that model that everyone looks up to and that they want to be like.”
“At the end of the day, I think this was definitely a worthwhile event,” said Rauschenberg. “I overhead one of the commanders say, ‘wow this really is a two-star event,’ and I think those words really hit the nail on the head. My hats off to everyone who worked behind the scenes to put this together. It was a huge group effort in terms of planning, logistics, and just making sure everyone was at the right place at the right time. Overall I think it was a great event, and as a two-star headquarters, we should put on great events.”