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NEWS | May 6, 2022

Army Reserve boosts chaplains’ readiness for combat operations

By Sgt. Salvatore Ottaviano 99th Readiness Division

Army Reserve chaplains are now better prepared to do their jobs in large-scale combat operations after taking Army Reserve Chaplaincy Battle Focused Training here.

The Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division, under direction of a United States Army Forces Command mandate, hosted the training at its headquarters here for the 200th Military Police Command, which is headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland.

“Our unit teams are good at providing care for families,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Roberts, U.S. Army Reserve Command chief religious affairs noncommissioned officer. “At the same time, they need to understand the plans, the operations, the OPORDs to develop appendages so the commander understands our capabilities, staff integration and planning tasks.

“That’s where our unit ministry teams need help, and that’s the area we focus on in the battle-focused training - to train our unit ministry on essential tasks that they need for combat operations,” Roberts added.

The training here included chaplains, religious affairs specialists and chaplain candidates who are seminary students and part of the chaplain candidate program.

“I hope this training means something to you, and after this you’re able to add value everywhere you go and for every Soldier you meet because that’s what we’re here to do - make each other successful,” said Maj. Gen. Rodney Faulk, 99th RD commanding general, when speaking to the approximately 40 Soldiers who attended the four days of training.

“For me, I like to come and share stories to help benefit the training. That’s what we do as old Soldiers is tell stories because we hope they strike a chord so you can help your sphere of influence for Soldiers to be better and more successful,” Faulk added.

“This is the first year we’re doing it in-person,” said Chap. (Maj.) Timothy Ippolito, 99th RD chaplain training and resource manager. “I think we all learn better when we do our collective training because we all contribute to the cause. When the learning is concentrated like this, you come together, you’re rubbing elbows with your peers in unit ministry teams. It’s really important because you can share the experience.”

Ippolito added that a lot of senior NCOs and chaplains who have been downrange attend the training and they can easily share their experiences with the junior officers and enlisted Soldiers.

“They were good exercises. They would look at an OPORD, draw out the key information and what it would mean to the commander,” said Roberts after the training was complete. “We look at the commander’s objectives and ask, ‘How do we fit into those objectives?’ to provide religious support as well as a ministry team to provide support to the Soldiers.

“There was a good mix of chaplains, religious affairs specialists as well as chaplain candidates, and they drew from the experienced people during the classes," Roberts continued. "Another important piece of this was the non-commissioned officers provided a lot of instruction. In the past, mostly chaplains taught the skills/training."

Army chaplains receive their first training in the beginning of their careers at Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course. As spiritual leaders who reach out and provide spiritual guidance to anyone in need, they have the responsibility of caring for the spiritual well-being of Soldiers and their Families.

Chaplains oversee a full program of religious ministries, including workshops, counseling sessions, religious education, and special events.

“At the end of the day, we’re here to counsel Soldiers and give them the opportunity to share whatever is on their heart without fear of us going to a commander because the chaplain has confidentiality with the Soldier,” said Ippolito.

“You can’t learn everything in four days about what a unit ministry team is supposed to do downrange,” Ippolito continued. “This [Army Reserve Chaplaincy Battle Focused Training] is one piece of the puzzle to get them prepared for that year when their unit says, ‘You’re going.’”

The training is now an annual event with readiness divisions as the central organization to host the training events for each functional command. Last year was the first training, which took place via virtual platform because of the coronavirus pandemic

“I firmly believe that we learn together by sharing…this [Army Reserve Chaplaincy Battle Focused Training] is a stimulating environment that promotes thoughts for professional Soldiers about our profession and what we have to do to take care of each other and win in combat,” said Faulk.