NEWS | Dec. 16, 2015

Army Reserve Public Affairs Newest Observer Coach Trainer

By Lt. Col. Monica Womack U.S. Army Reserve Command

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. - This coming year the U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) will launch its first-ever consolidated training exercise for public affairs units and Soldiers, known as Exercise News Day.

The exercise is designed to assign public affairs journalists, photographers and broadcasters to covering a plethora of training missions involving Army Reserve Soldiers across the United States.

But before Exercise News Day can begin, there’s one more thing USARC wanted to put into play: qualified Observer Coach / Trainers (OC/T).

For this, the public affairs headquarters turned to the First Army Academy. Already the first two Army Reserve public affairs professionals have graduated from the OC/T course.

The course took up three days of comprehensive classroom participation plus three additional days of field application within the wet woods of Camp Shelby, Miss.

“Coming from a public affairs background, the course was a humbling experience. I was surrounded by senior noncommissioned and commissioned officers from across First Army who really knew their stuff. They helped me out tremendously, too, because many of the training lanes dealt with infantry tactics,” said Master Sgt. Michel Sauret, who was one of the first public affairs OC/T graduates this year.

Sauret is currently assigned as the public affairs noncommissioned officer in charge of the 200th Military Police Command, headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland.

“It’s really reassuring to see First Army implement a standardized course that prepares Soldiers from all backgrounds to evaluate and help improve training and readiness across the reserve forces,” he said.

The OC/T course accentuates the importance of the After Action Review (AAR) – a professional discussion of an event that enables Soldier/units to discover for themselves what happened and develop a strategy for improvement (as described in the First Army OC/T Standards handbook dated Jan. 13, 2015).  Students are required to successfully facilitate an AAR prior to completing the course, plus finish a final exam.  

“Even though the AAR is nothing new to us, the course helped standardize the process so that I can help fellow public affairs Soldiers and units grow and discover for themselves how they can be even more proficient in telling the Army Reserve story this year,” said Sauret, who, though he now lives in Baltimore, considers himself a Pittsburgher.  Sauret said he looks forward to putting his public affairs experience in supporting Exercise News Day.   

Exercise News Day will assemble PA professionals from Army Reserve units throughout the continental U.S. at one central training location to receive real-world assignments that will generate print, video and radio newsworthy stories about Army Reserve Soldiers and units.

The qualified OC/Ts will be there to evaluate and support those public affairs Soldiers in producing the best possible content and stories. Those products will be used to promote and market the Army Reserve to national and international audiences.

“I have a passion for public affairs,” Sauret said.  “I love this field and I love watching our Soldiers creating awesome imagery and stories. I volunteered to become an OC/T for END because I believe in the exercise, and I know I can help.  Sacrificing a week away from family in December wasn’t ideal, but I want to make myself useful in whatever way I can to improve our career field.”

Remaining members of the newly established Army Reserve PA OC/T Team are scheduled to attend First Army’s OC/T course in January 2016.