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NEWS | June 19, 2016

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers Combine Civilian, Army Skills to Succeed in Both Careers

By Spc. Daisy Zimmer 367th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif., June 16, 2016 – The U.S. Army Reserve transportation management coordinators, of the 385th Transportation Detachment, Fort Bragg, North Carolina traveled across the country to participate in Combat Support Training Exercise 91-16-02 at Fort Hunter Liggett, California. These Soldiers walk, talk, and perform at the same level as their active duty counterparts, with one exception: They also have full-time civilian careers.

As the largest U.S. Army Reserve training exercise, CSTX 91-16-02 provides Soldiers with unique opportunities to sharpen their technical and tactical skills in combat-like conditions. Soldiers from the 385th put their civilian lives on hold for this three-week exercise to report for military duty and provide transportation movement control to units at Tactical Assembly Area Schoonover.

“The Soldiers stop the vehicles, ask for trip tickets and log the time,” said Staff Sgt. Araina McCormick, from Fayetteville, N.C.

A seemingly simple task, this job keeps track of the times Soldiers depart and return from missions. Whether in a training scenario or a combat zone, this is a critical point in the movement control process, providing information about which personnel or vehicles may be missing, and for how long.

The duty these Soldiers perform is essential for the safety and success of CSTX, and positively affects each Soldier's personal and professional development when they bring what the U.S. Army Reserve has taught them back into their civilian lives.

For Spc. Jahvar Billings, from Pembroke, North Carolina, that means utilizing the discipline and time management skills the Army has given him into his life as a full-time student.

“I'm a sophomore in nursing school,” he said. “Being in the Army is hard work but I love serving my country, and I love what it's taught me.”

Spc. Christopher Payton, from Southern Pines, North Carolina, exercises logistical skills and safety practices within the unit, and his civilian career gives him the chance to utilize those skills as well.

“In the civilian transportation world, I'm a bus driver,” he said. “The Army Reserve has taught me to always check my equipment and to recognize when things are wrong with my vehicle. I can also teach others what to look out for.”

Spc. Anthony Clark, from Raleigh, North Carolina, has learned communication and administrative skills while working in roadside assistance for the American Automobile Association (AAA) which helps him perform his duties for the 385th, as well as using his military knowledge on the job at the AAA.

“Whenever we get a call about a vehicle at AAA, we have to go through a checklist and be very thorough to find out what's wrong,” he said. “I hand off that checklist to someone else, so I can't make any mistakes. It can be stressful, but as a Soldier you learn how to stay calm in different situations.”

These benefits are a two-way street. The unit also gains momentum when Soldiers bring their civilian skills to the field, helping their teams thrive in training and combat environments.

“I talk to a lot of customers at AAA, and customer service is really important,” Clark continued. “Here, we're providing a service to the Soldiers that stop to see us and get a trip ticket. I love talking to the Soldiers from all different units and helping them out.”

Thousands of Soldiers comprise the many different combat support and combat service support units participating in CSTX 91-16-02. With so many Soldiers moving around the over two hundred square mile training area, transportation management is a crucial piece that keeps everyone rolling.

“Nothing moves unless we say so,” said Billings, “And I love being part of the bigger picture.”