An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.













NEWS | June 20, 2016

Army Reserve Observer Coach Trainers Play Integral Role in Increasing Soldier, Unit Readiness

By Spc. James Larimer 367th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif., June 16, 2016 – The concussion of a simulated mortar round rips through a dusty training site and reverberates off the adobe walls. Moments before, costumed role players were aggressively challenging the presence of U.S. Soldiers in the village, demanding they leave and not return.

The blast causes the Soldiers to drop behind cover, while role players scatter in all directions. All the while, a small number of Observer Coach Trainers (OCTs) stand out as a calm presence amid the chaotic, fast-moving crowd, observing the Soldier’s performance during this response to a civil unrest training scenario at Fort Hunter Liggett, California.

Thousands of U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers are currently participating in Combat Support Training Exercise 91-16-02 at Fort Hunter Liggett under the watchful eye of OCTs, whose mission is to increase Soldier and unit proficiency in mission essential tasks.

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.

First Lt. Lisa Stone, Observer Coach Trainer, 3rd Battalion, 337th Regiment, 4th Calvary Division Training Support Battalion, Fort Knox, Kentucky, said she is here to mentor and educate U.S. Army Reserve units during training missions and to ensure they are following the proper troop leading procedures.

“We want to focus on the standards but we're also here to make sure their morale is high and that they're here to learn,” she said.

The OCTs help units identify areas that Soldiers and units need to improve upon and provide solutions so that they can adapt their training back at their home stations, she said.

 “These are units that are going to deploy in the future, so we want to make sure they're catching their deficiencies here, learning from them, and not making the same mistakes or causing any injuries or deaths,” she said.  “This is our time to get them motivated so they will go back to their units and implement effective training.”

Stone is joined by non-commissioned officers with years of experience in their career field and on deployments as military police.

“This is the best job in the entire Army,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kristopher Middleton, Observer Coach Trainer, 3rd Battalion, 337th Regiment, 4th Calvary Division Training Support Battalion, Fort Knox, Kentucky. “Nowhere else do you have the influence that you have here.”

“For a lot of us, the chance to train these soldiers and know that they are prepared to protect each other and our families is paramount,” said Sgt. David Tedrow, Observer Coach Trainer, 3rd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 91st Training Division, Grand Prairie, Texas.

“Eventually these Soldiers are going to make it to our level and it could be my kids who are working for them. They're training to protect my children if they make the decision to enter the military.”

Stone also commented on the tenacity and dedication of these two non-commissioned officers.

“Sgt. 1st Class Middleton and Sgt. Tedrow are very involved and they're really about coaching, getting personal with the trainees and getting them motivated,” she said.

Among the units participating in CSTX 91-16-02 is the 341st Military Police Company, Mountain View, California, which has been executing training missions such as response to civil unrest, reacting to attacks, and searches for high-value targets.

“I haven't done this kind of training before and I think this is the best training we have done so far,” said Spc. Sierra Starr.

“Rather than just making a sand table and just seeing what we should be doing, we're actually coming out here, getting everyone together and making it a real life situation,” said Sgt. Matthew Brown. “The OCTs provide us with information based on their experiences and from their training. This training was definitely valuable to me individually because I haven't deployed yet and it just gives me the experience of learning from OCT's that have the experience.”

During battle assemblies at home station the OCTs continue their development through training and mentoring.

“Throughout the year, our unit is very specific about ensuring we're trained for this responsibility of being OCTs,” Stone said.  “Sometimes we have an ROTC unit come in to be our trainees, then we do the evaluations and after action reviews. This helps the unit get better and helps us to learn the specific guidelines that 4th Cavalry gives us for completing the evaluations.”

“Reserve Soldiers bring diverse perspectives to the training from their civilian career experience,” she added. “All three OCTs working this mission are Army Reserve Soldiers with different civilian careers.”

Tedrow said that he thinks being in the U.S. Army Reserve, just as the Soldiers he is observing, is an advantage because he understands how difficult it can be to achieve a high state of readiness with limited training days.

 “It teaches you to learn as much as you can as fast as you can and then teaches you to pass that on,” he said. “Knowledge is nothing unless it is passed on.”