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NEWS | July 31, 2015

Training Command ramps up for mission to Middle East

By Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton 108th Training Command- Initial Entry Training

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - In his written statement to the National Commission on the Future of the Army, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, chief of Army Reserve, said, “In an era of persistent conflict and global engagement, with multiple strategically imperative operations ongoing around the globe, protecting and defending the national security interests of the United States requires the full engagement of the Total Army – Active, Army Reserve and Army National Guard.”

Realizing this vision, Talley recently tapped into the 108th Training Command (IET) - one of only five training and exercise commands in the Army’s Total Force, all of which lie in the Army Reserve - to support a joint training mission to the Middle East under the direction of U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM.

Their mission: Assisting Middle Eastern countries in the CENTCOM area of operations in advising, training and equipping Facilities Security Forces.

The Facilities Security Force provides protection to critical infrastructure, like telecommunications, utilities and mass transit, in and around the region, against hostile forces.

Since 1977, the U.S. has provided training instruction and advisory services at all levels within the region. However, only recently within the last decade has the U.S. supported the regional goal of protecting infrastructure.

“Until now, this mission has been supported by an ad hoc group of volunteers because of the way the mission was funded. I think that while what we had before worked, it certainly wasn’t the best solution,” said Randy Cook, 108th TC G 3/5/7 Staff Operations and Training Specialist.

“This will be an improvement,” said Cook. “Before, you had a group of individuals meeting in theater with no real command structure. Now what you get is an organized unit, with an established command structure from day one.”

Training Middle Eastern countries facilities forces to protect against an armed enemy involves instilling basic leadership principles in order to increase the program’s effectiveness.

“The commander on the ground is responsible for the program of instruction, but the training program is always evolving,” said Cook. “It’s a very fluid process. What we are trying to do is continue to build upon what has already been established to provide a higher quality product.”

Cook adds that because this critical mission has transitioned to an official request for forces, the continuity of having one of the few Army Reserve training units staffed with Soldiers versed in critical combat arms military occupational specialties brings an extra degree of value to the training mission.

“Instead of relying on Soldiers to volunteer, we can now go out and actively recruit as well as qualify the best possible candidates to meet the mission requirements for what we are trying to accomplish.”

“As time goes on and we deploy a complete and ready, trained unit, the quality of training and the quality of personnel that we send over there will steadily improve, from good to great, further adding to the value of the services we provide here at the 108th,” Cook added.

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