Friday, May 12, 2017

Ghost Brigade’s War on Excess

Spc. Aaron Dumond (left), a team leader with D Company, 23rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, reads off a list of required items needed for turning in their Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter to the Logistics Readiness Center May 8, 2017, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The DRASH turn in was part of 1-2 SBCT’s effort to rid the unit of excess equipment.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team has been taking part in an installation-wide material management program to synchronize and execute material management actions and increase on hand equipment readiness.

The process included equipment alignment, lateral transfers, and excess turn-in so units can maximize equipment readiness across Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The process started at company levels and expanded to include all 1-2 SBCT units. Units have also divested excess equipment to fill shortages off of JBLM.

“If transfers are not required within the brigade because everyone filled on the equipment, than the next step is to turn it in or ship it possibly to another post,” said Capt. Clayton Shillings, logistics director for 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry, 1-2 SBCT.

The program, which is known as Unit Equipping and Reuse Working Group – Expanded (UERWG-E), was directed by Forces Command and began in September 2016 with the identification of excess equipment, according to Maj. Joseph Baumbach, the logistics director for 1-2 SBCT. The brigade began with 6,500 pieces of excess equipment and 4,642 need to be divested by July 9.

“A piece of equipment can go anywhere, from another company in the brigade to the Army National Guard or Reserve component units,” Baumbach said. “Wherever it’s needed. It can also go to depots or to the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services where it will get stocked for future use or destroyed.

“This program is important in order to modernize the Army,” he added. “It is forcing us to get rid of our legacy equipment, whether it is old NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) equipment, old communication equipment, or old soft-skinned vehicles, while retaining the newer equipment.”

This is all based on the Modified Table of Organization (MTOE), said Shillings. There may be a new weapon that is being issued and a unit has an older weapon sitting on the books in place of it. By replacing and divesting equipment, the brigade can maintain readiness on an equal footing across the board.

“Getting rid of equipment that is excess also benefits us because we are not trying to perform maintenance on that equipment to keep it running or up-to-date,” said Shillings. “This saves time and money. If you have 20 weapons, but you only need 10. You can focus more on maintaining the 10 than on the 20, ensuring unit readiness.”

“We are only authorized to repair what in our unit by MTOE, so anything excess will eat into our training dollars in order to fix,” said Baumbach. “Reducing the amount of excess equipment also reduces our budget constraints – making us a better fighting force by having more money available for training.”

The 1-2 SBCT is the largest unit on JBLM to participate in UERWG-E, according to Baumbach. As of May 9, 2017, the unit has divested 3,075 out of 4,642 of equipment -- 66 percent during the 11 weeks of conducting UERWG.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

City of Lacey holds fundraiser for Veterans Services Hub

The City of Lacey held a fundraiser April 28, 2017, at Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion, Lacey, Wash.

The fundraiser raised approximately $30, 000 for the Lacey Veterans Services Hub, an organization that assists veterans and their family members with housing and financial assistance, job training and employment, and more. Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, provided the color guard for the fundraiser.

“The city embraces partnerships with the military community through the Community Connector Program, the Lacey Subchapter of AUSA (Association of the United States Army), and the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership (SSMCP),” said Mary Coppin, the Lacey community liaison. “The Community Connector program allows us to develop coordinated opportunities for Soldiers to connect with the community and for our civilians to demonstrate support for military personnel and their families. On the leadership level, the SSMCP facilitates regional planning efforts for JBLM to meet the needs of the military and the surrounding communities.”

Through the initiative of the Lacey City Council, the city opened the Lacey Veterans Services Hub in October 2016, said Coppin. The Lacey Hub is a one-stop shop for assistance with benefits, counseling, peer-to-peer support, housing, employment, and education assistance. Since opening six months ago, the Lacey Hub has already served more than 900 Veterans and families.

“Additionally, Lacey is a partner in the Thurston Economic Development Council Center for Business and Innovation Veterans Microenterprise Program (VMP),” she said. “This program is designed to help veterans plan, open and operate a small business. Veterans who live in the City of Lacey or the Lacey Urban Growth area, plan to open a business in the City of Lacey may be eligible for enhanced services through VMP.

“We want to continue supporting our adopted brigade, the 1-2 SBCT, and remain a welcoming community to all military members, veterans, and their families.  Lacey celebrates the importance of their service, and we demonstrate this by proudly displaying over 800 U.S. flags throughout Lacey streets on all patriotic holidays. It is our goal to enhance the quality of life for military personnel and families by building quality neighborhoods, infrastructure, schools, recreation opportunities, and services.”

For the past two years, the city has partnered with the Lacey Subchapter of AUSA to host Ghost Brigade Field Day events at the Regional Athletic Facility (RAC) in Lacey.  These all-day events have featured free food, games, activities, door prizes, and tournaments for the members of the 1-2 SBCT and their families. The 3rd Annual 1-2 SBCT Field Day is currently scheduled for August 29, 2017.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

2-3 Inf. Soldiers provide demos for AUSA's 6th region spring meeting

Soldiers of 2-3 Infantry supported I Corps hosting of approximately 65 members from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter as part of their AUSA 6th region spring meeting to build and maintain community trust and increase awareness and support for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and I Corps, April 21, 2017.

AUSA members were guided to different stations where subject matter experts provided task conditions and standards of the stations (such as employ and recover an M18A1 Claymore, camouflage self and equipment, Objective Bull, and more), while Soldiers gave a demonstration. After the third station AUSA members were given the opportunity to view a Stryker static display, fire M4 Rifles, use radio equipment and interact with Soldiers.

AUSA is a non-profit organization that acts primarily as an advocacy group for the United States Army. Founded in 1950, it has 119 chapters worldwide. Membership is open to everyone, not just Army personnel. 

The Captain Meriwether Lewis Lacey Subchapter of AUSA has worked with the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team and other organizations such as 17th Field Artillery Brigade for a while, according to Tina Torfin, the subchapter president.

“We have hosted our Annual Family Day for two years running and are looking forward to 2017 (our 3rd year), which is scheduled on August 29, 2017,” Torfin said.

The Annual Family Day event is entirely free for the entire Brigade and their families, she added. They are invited out to The RAC at Lacey (Regional Athletic Center and Park).  AUSA procured over 65 supporters to come out and support the event with activities, goods and services ranging from free face painting, bounce houses, free haircuts and games.

“We all have full time careers, yet we dedicate hours of volunteer time each week, month, year and it is our honor to do so,” Torfin said. That said, this is not an endeavor we could accomplish alone, we absolutely reach out to our business community and our City Connector: The City of Lacey. Lacey is a huge support to us, as is the Lacey Police and Fire Departments."

The subchapter even assist 2nd SBCT, Lancer Foundation, to with their memorial. They hosted a fundraiser on their behalf to help build their Memorial on Post.

“Hands down what I enjoy most is serving our Military Families,” she added. “I work nights and weekends, I enlist my whole family to help out when I can! In addition to AUSA, I also serve as an Honorary Commander for the 62nd Airlift Wing OSS … serving the Military is an important and meaningful part of my life, I couldn't imagine it any other way.”

Thursday, April 27, 2017

‘Patriot’ Soldiers prepare for future conflicts at YTC

By Staff Sgt. Samuel Northrup

Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, move toward their objective during training March 16, 2017, at Yakima Training Center, Wash. Soldiers of 2-3 Inf., 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, conducted a live fire training exercise March 14-20 in order to help prepare themselves for future contingencies.

Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, conducted a live fire training exercise March 14-20 at Yakima Training Center, Wash., in order to help prepare themselves for future contingencies.

The training included mounted and dismounted infantry tasks in an isolated training environment across complex terrain. It involved an enemy counterattack once a friendly platoon had consolidated and reorganized after securing an objective. Higher headquarters and reconnaissance assets would report that an armored element was moving to the platoon's location on the objective.

Upon receiving word enemy armor was on the way, the platoon moved their dismounted and mounted assets off the objective behind defilade and deployed a Javelin Missile team with a security element to engage the armored threat from a secure position.

“Successful training events depend on a sufficient resources,” said 1st Lt. Chaka, a platoon leader with Charger Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment. “In a resource-constrained environment, obtaining the necessary inputs to conduct realistic training is an ever-present obstacle to completing the mission.”

According to Chaka, his ability to provide timely command and control in an otherwise chaotic combat environment is what determines his value to the team.

“The training our battalion executed at YTC stressed my ability to coordinate multiple echelons of both direct and indirect fires, safely maneuver my Soldiers across the battlefield and provide situational updates to higher headquarters. That ultimately shapes operational and strategic decision-making that directly impact the welfare of my individual Soldiers,” he added.

The training mimics austere conditions their unit may encounter in a potential overseas deployment, according to Chaka. YTC provided a dynamic and challenging environment that stressed their battalion’s operational capabilities, as well as their ability to project sustained combat power in order to fight and win our nation’s wars abroad.

Pfc. Tyler Kowalchuk of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, fires the second Javelin shot of the day March 16, 2017, at Yakima Training Center, Wash. 

“Perhaps the most valuable benefit from training at YTC is that it provides a realistic assessment of our unit’s combat readiness at any given time,” said Chaka. “The long-distance movements to and from the training area stress our logistical and asset-recovery capabilities, which are arguably some of the most critical tasks required of a mechanized organization. YTC also enables our battalion to develop and refine standard operating procedures and best-practices that will benefit future generations of Soldiers.”

The training forces Soldiers at every echelon of leadership to hone their critical thinking and decision-making skills in real-time, Chaka said. Repetitive training in day and nighttime conditions while operating in difficult, unfamiliar terrain affords individual Soldiers the opportunity to gain confidence in themselves and each other.

“As a platoon leader at YTC, I learned the value of incorporating flexibility into my course-of-action development,” said Chaka. “Flexibility is a crucial element during the execution phase of any operation and remaining overly-fixed to the initial plan prevents leaders from recognizing and seizing the initiative, or on the other hand, exercising tactical patience when the conditions are not set to continue the mission. In future training exercises, I will use my subordinate leaders more effectively, trust them to exercise initiative and adapt to the situation on the ground as it changes.”

Prior to executing training operations at YTC, select Soldiers within 2-3 Inf. certified on the FGM-148 Javelin weapon system under the supervision of certified instructors from Jan. 30 to Feb. 17. The training allowed Soldiers across the battalion to develop the skills and confidence necessary to employ live javelin munitions as part of their individual platoon’s scheme of maneuver during platoon live fire exercises.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Month of the military child

April is the Month of the Military Child. This awareness month was established to highlight the role children play in the military community. There are about 2 million military children. Care of military children sustains our fighting force, and strengthens the health of our Army families.

This month we went around asking different Army parents why it is important to recognize what military children go through.
“It is important recognize the children because many people don’t even realize the difficulties many military children have to go through. The Army offers challenging careers and we have to be considerate of our child’s thoughts and feelings whenever our duties take us away from them.” – Sgt. Kutta, a father of three and a team leader with B Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment.

“We make sacrifices for our nation, but our children can be at times the strongest in the family. They learn at a an early age that their Dad has a job to do. They know we can’t always be there and they deal with that remarkably well. They are always with us and that makes us stronger as a whole.” – Pfc. Laforge, a father of one child and an infantryman with B Co., 2-3 Inf.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

‘Warhorse’ troops support Operation Freedom Sentinel

By Staff Sgt. Samuel Northrup


Soldiers of C Troop, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, conduct training and missions at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, April 1, 2017. Soldiers of C Troop were in Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Brian H. Harris)



For more than 15 years, the U.S. Army has been fighting in Afghanistan – the longest conflict in United States history.  Soldiers of C Troop, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, are some of the recent Soldiers to deploy there for Operation Freedom Sentinel.

Deploying to Afghanistan in early February 2017, the Soldiers are supporting the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade.

“Afghanistan is truly is a beautiful place,” said Spc. Ryan Muir, a medic with C Troop. “There are a lot more mountains than I imagined and it makes for a great view every day. In other circumstances I would gladly come here to visit.”

His previous deployments were counter-insurgency based that were focused on disrupting the enemy in a sector, said Staff Sgt. Timothy Oremus, a section leader with C Troop and a Smithfield, Rhode Island, native. This mission is in support of possible downed helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

The tactics, movement and support are very different than what Oremus is used to. Coming from the Stryker-based Cavalry Squadron conducting reconnaissance operations, this mission entails a light air assault force for conducting security operations in support of U.S. forces.

“We had the opportunity to cross train with Air Force Para-rescue Jumpers (PJs), Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC), Tactical Air Control Party (TAC-P), and Security Forces (SF) and with allies from the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, and Afghanistan,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Frazier, a platoon leader with C Troop.

Staff Sgt. Rinson Neth, a Section Leader with C Troop and a Pohnpei, Micronesia, native, said he was deployed to Afghanistan 2009-2010. He said It's amazing how many resources and how much manpower has been poured into the country to support the mission. There are so many different countries are willing to work together to re-build Afghanistan.

“I believe the mission of Operation Freedom Sentinel is extremely important and mitigates terrorism,” said Sgt. Gabriel Mercado, a team leader with C Troop who is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. “As Americans, we must not only increase our security back home but assist the country of Afghanistan in bringing peace to its nation.”

The Afghan people are a hard working group of individuals that want to make their country better, said Sgt. Alexander Raymond, a team leader with C Troop from Portland, Oregon. They need all the help they can get from the coalition forces to help structure a safe and stable environment for their families and loved ones.

“That is what keeps me motivated day to day: knowing I have people that care and are waiting for me back home,” said Spc. Sanz St. Jean, a C Troop assistant gunner from Ft. Myers, Florida. “All the love and support we receive while overseas keeps me motivated to keep driving on and make it back to the states.”

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

U.S. Soldiers train with Canadian Counterparts

by Staff Sgt. Samuel Northrup

Spc. Gurpreet Gill (left), an infantry Soldier with 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, stand next to his Canadian military counterpart during Exercise Warfighter, which was held April 4-11 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (Photo courtesy of Spc. Gill)          

Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division trained with the 1st Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group during Exercise Warfighter April 4-11, 2017, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The exercise, which was supported in part by 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, is conducted annually, with the other half of the exercise taking place at Fort Hood, Texas. At JBLM, Soldiers conducted a command post exercise to test the interoperability and internal systems of the two nations’ militaries.

“Exercise Warfighter 17-04 is a U.S. Army led computer assisted exercise that simulates complex combat operations against a near-peer enemy and focuses on the Command and Control‎ aspects of warfare,” said Col. Bill Fletcher, commander of 1 CMBG. “Conducting the exercise in a simulated environment allowed us to refine our Command and Control processes and procedures in a safe training environment while synchronizing our warfighting strategies and tactics with our U.S. Army ally.”

The U.S. Army is considered Canada’s closest ally and the organization has a long history of success on the battlefield, which they have used to build impressive doctrine, said Fletcher. “We always relish at the opportunity to learn from their knowledge and experience and equally to impart our own.”

Members of the Canadian military are very professional, friendly and they know what they are doing, said U.S. Army Spc. Gurpreet Gill, an infantry Soldier with 1-2 SBCT. Some basic soldiering tasks such as taking a map out and locating key points for the mission are the same. They also use a lot of the same vocabulary and techniques we use at that level of training. 

“In Canada, we are great at operating in sections, platoons, companies, battalions, battle groups, and brigades,” Fletcher added. “Training opportunities like Exercise Warfighter 17-04 allow us to train at the Division and Corps levels. Fighting a battle with the resources and capabilities that these echelons bring to the fight forces us to think beyond our own capabilities and integrate as part of the team.”

Colonel Bill Fletcher, the Commander of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, gives orders to Battalion Command Team’s and key staff during an operations order briefing held at Albanese Hall during Exercise Warfighter 17-04, which was held April 4-11 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (Photo courtesy of Canadian military)

Training with the U.S. Army re-enforces the value of teamwork in allied combat operations and draws upon the resources that come with it, said Fletcher. By synchronizing their processes and procedures with their U.S. Army counterparts, they will be able to be a better team player when they support and participate in multi-national operations.

‘We are serving alongside U.S. forces across the globe,” Fletcher added. “Integration along the lines of what we accomplished sets us up for success domestically and internationally.”

It was Gill’s first time working with the Canadians. For him, it has given him lot of ideas to move forward with in his career. 

“I find that different militaries have their own way to approach situations, especially when it comes to missions and planning,” said Gill, who has also worked with Indian Army soldiers. “The Canadians are different and India is very different, but overall it was a great experience.” 

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