By SGT. 1ST CLASS STEPHEN J. BEHAN
Sarasota, Fl., Recruiting Company
It was Christmas Eve 2007 in Fallujah, Iraq, and we were making our second move to Baghdad. Before moving out, we left our outpost and made a trip to Camp Fallujah to call home. While waiting for my Soldiers to finish their calls, I checked my email and found a message announcing that I had been selected for recruiting duty. I wasn’t happy about the news. I went to my squadron headquarters and begged and pleaded my command sergeant major to get me out of this assignment. His response was, “It will be good for your career.” This was not what I wanted to hear. I forced the news to the back of my mind. After all, I had bigger things to worry about in Iraq.
Fast forward seven months, and as I arrived at the Army Recruiting Course (ARC), I was still unhappy about what the Army had asked me to do. But I was also determined to make the best of it. Overwhelmed with all the classes and regulations that were covered, I was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I reflected back on my early years as a Soldier — scared, nervous and unsure; the ARC made me feel like a private again.
I requested to be assigned to the New England Recruiting Battalion in hopes that I would get to go back home for three years. I was shocked when I was granted my first choice. I later found out that recruiting in this area was more difficult than other areas in the command, and most Soldiers would never ask for this location. Looking back, I made the correct choice. Recruiting in a tough market forced me to develop the strong work ethic necessary to be successful in the U.S. Army Recruting Command and has continued to help me to this day.
I learned as much as I could at the ARC, but the most important lesson came when the instructors reminded us that we were only learning the basics at the schoolhouse. They said that we would hone our skills when we reported to our recruiting centers. I remember hoping that was true, because I had no clue what I was supposed to do.
By the time I arrived at the recruiting center in December 2008, less than a year after I was notified of my recruiting assignment, my outlook had improved only slightly. But I have always been successful in my career, regardless of whether I liked the job. So, I set out to make myself successful and accomplish my assigned mission. I stuck to the basics I learned at the ARC, speaking to anyone who looked qualified.
On Christmas Eve, I enlisted my first two applicants — one as a 37F (psychological operations) and one as a 92G (food service specialist). I still keep in touch with them and have followed their careers. The 37F is now a staff sergeant at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the 92G is studying pre-med at the University of Massachusetts. You remember your first enlistment like you remember your drill sergeant; these are significant moments in your life. You feel proud that you made a difference in someone’s life, especially when he or she goes on to be successful.
I got into the groove fast, and I became successful much more quickly than I anticipated. As a result of great leadership and hard work, I was selected as the top new recruiter two years in a row. I had the opportunity to give young men and women a purpose and to be part of something bigger than themselves. I enjoyed shaking the hands of my new enlistees and always loved seeing the Soldiers when they came back from basic training. The kids who didn’t fear me as their recruiter came back standing at parade rest saying “sergeant” after every sentence. I also enjoyed seeing my enlistees’ physical and mental changes — each of the new Soldiers thinking they could take over the world. This will always be why I do this job: being able to help people while providing strength for the Army.
As I approached the two-year mark of a three-year tour in recruiting, I was being counseled by my first sergeant about converting. I told him that I enjoyed what I do, but that I missed having a job that was relevant. I missed kicking in doors in Iraq. I missed the firefights. And I missed making a difference. He had a perplexed look on his face and asked me, “How many people have you put in the Army?” I said, “About 60.” He looked at me and said, “What’s more relevant, 60 doors being kicked in or one door being kicked in, 60 M4s being fired or one?”
I understood the point he was making and understood that I was doing more as a recruiter than I did as a cavalry scout. For me, the greatest honor will always be that I made the Army better because of the Soldiers I recruited.
Sgt. 1st Class Stephan Behan is serving as the Sarasota Recruiting Center Leader in Sarasota, Fl.
If they ask, he will make it. Chances are, if a noncommissioned officer pitches an idea for a new piece of Army load carriage to Rich Landry, the equipment designer is going to turn it into something tangible.
A former Pathfinder in the 82nd Airborne Division, Landry understands the struggle of NCOs on the battlefield who are often weighed down with body armor, weapons and other
equipment. During a visit in late June to Fort Belvoir, Va., Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel B. Allyn reiterated the Army’s desire to lighten the Soldiers’ load during a visit to Program Executive Office Soldier. “I appreciate what you are focused on … better kit and lighter weight,” Allyn told PEO Soldier staff members.
It’s a challenge Landry embraces.
“The beauty of what we’re able to do here is a Soldier comes to us with an idea, and in a very short period of time, they have something in their hands,” said Landry, individual designer in Load Carriage Systems, Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass. “Soldiers leave here with at least a concept. It might be a 60 percent solution, and it might be a 90 percent solution if we’re lucky. But typically the 60 percent solution we are happy with right out of the starting gate.
“And then we evaluate,” Landry said. “We will have 50 of them built, and we let Soldiers tweak it. We do the tweaks to it very quickly once again, get something back in Soldiers’ hands and they will look at it and say, ‘That’s good.’ Then, we can go to test with it. We may have 100 of them built, either [at Natick] or by a small manufacturer. Then, a company-size evaluation [follows].”
The rows of backpacks on his office walls serve as inspiration to the former Pathfinder, who often goes to the field to survey Soldiers about the military gear in use. The walls
display backpacks used over the years by the Army, including the ALICE, all-purpose lightweight individual carrying equipment, pack. The ALICE pack was adopted by the military in 1973. The MOLLE, modular lightweight load-carrying equipment, system was due to replace it in the early 2000s. However, some units still prefer this style over the modern MOLLE pack.
“I always keep old stuff on the wall because I learn so much from it,” said Landry, dubbed “Pack Man” by comedian Larry the Cable Guy who visited Natick’s Soldier System Center in 2012 for his “Only in America” series. “You just never know. There might have been a time where they were using that effectively, and it’s good to look at that.”
How he works
Landry recently heard from the 82nd Airborne Division that Soldiers needed a pack that could carry essential equipment for airborne operations.
Out of that feedback came the MOLLE 4000, a 4,000-cubic-inch rucksack that uses a frame out of the U.S. Marine Corps inventory as a foundation. In fact, Landry had also worked on that pack for the Marines. The MOLLE 4000 is in the testing phase, and airborne units may receive the new pack in fiscal year 2017.
The MOLLE 4000 “is really similar to some of these older packs, but it does a good job of transferring the load,” Landry said. “One of the things that’s popular about this pack is it looks very similar to some of these old ones. A lot of Soldiers love the old stuff. You can’t pry the ALICE pack out of many Soldiers’ hands; they love it.”
Speed and simplicity are key points for Soldiers.
“We can take all the good points of these [older Army backpacks], take the science that Natick is so good at, and put it all together,” Landry said. “That’s really what our focus has been for the past 15 years on backpack technology — it’s transferring some load and getting it off the shoulders and onto the hips.”
Contributions from NCOs
NCO feedback is extremely valuable to Landry and what he does.
“A lot of what we do is very, kind of, ‘stubby pencil’ — we listen to Soldiers, we write it down and look at what we think it needs to be and what we need to happen when we build it,” Landry said.
NCO input comes in different forms for Landry, whether it comes through the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Public Affairs Office, Operational Forces Interface Group outreach efforts in the field or by walking through Landry’s door during a tour at Natick.
“We have an absolute open-door policy for anybody in uniform,” Landry said. “You come in anytime, and we will listen.”
Plenty of feedback also comes during temporary duty assignments to military installations.
“Whenever we travel to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, or Fort Benning, Georgia, etc., there’s always this kind of exchange process,” Landry said. “We will do it through surveys or get Soldiers in a room and say, ‘What’s wrong with this?’ ‘What kind of problems are you seeing with this backpack?’ ‘We’ve had this thing fielded for X amount of years, how can we fix it?’ ‘How can we improve on it?’ Because that’s my job every day — fix stuff, improve, improve, improve. Everything can be improved. Nothing is perfect until we try and try and try, and keep on trying.”
Where it all started
Landry is extremely grateful for the sewing skills he picked up as a young infantryman. Those skills came in handy when he found himself modifying military equipment.
“I was that young Soldier who was changing stuff, who was reusing 550 parachute cord and 100 mph duct tape and showing [others] what I could do to change stuff,” he said.
“I have the best job, and I tell that to everybody,” Landry said. “You never know what you are going to be working on. I travel a lot. I have deployed to Iraq twice. I have deployed to Afghanistan. This is where you get all your good information. This is where you learn. That’s what it’s all about.”
Inspiration often strikes on the spot. While on deployment, Landry often takes photographs of unique ways that Soldiers are carrying or using military equipment.
“We really have to get out as much as we can and see that stuff,” he said. “Sometimes we’re thrown a curve like, ‘They’re carrying what? They’re carrying how? Wait a minute. We have got to get on top of that. We’ve got to figure out a way to do that.’ Sometimes that’s just how it works.”
The MOLLE pack can be credited to Soldiers, Landry said. It “came from learning from Soldiers, because what Soldiers put things through you can’t model in a laboratory,” he said.
“What Soldiers put [their equipment] through is amazing — airborne operations, air assault operations, heavy vehicle use,” Landry said. “Things get driven over. Things get ripped off the side of vehicles in the night when two vehicles pass — on a road sign, on a telephone pole.”
That’s why Army equipment has to be durable and be able to withstand the extreme conditions of Soldiers’ missions.
“We [at Natick] make a difference, and that’s the beauty of it,” Landry said. “Every morning I turn on the news, and I see Soldiers deployed who are wearing stuff that I designed. So the job satisfaction is huge. Everything a Soldier wears is done here, and we all touch it. It’s fun and meaningful.”
After an Army Times article detailed the seven-day workout plan for Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, he got a lot of comments telling him, “That’s not PRT.”
Dailey has also heard Soldiers using their dislike of Army Physical Readiness Training as an excuse for not exercising. During a recent interview with the NCO Journal, Dailey made it clear that he believes in PRT, but that PRT is just the beginning of staying physically fit. Dailey said he does his workout routine in addition to PRT to maintain his fitness for the things he has needed to do throughout his career as an infantryman.
“I think PRT is actually very good, and it’s proved a success in our training environment,” Dailey said. “We’ve reduced injuries, and we’ve increased physical fitness scores coming out of basic training and AIT. What I need units to understand is PRT is not the end. … We shouldn’t be blaming PRT for our failure to have success in physical fitness. It’s a tool to use in achieving that success. … PRT is not the problem; 6:30 to 9 [a.m.] is the problem. We’ve failed the sacred hour. We need to get that back. It’s something that’s not going to take months; it’s not going to take years. Leaders can change this tomorrow morning. All they have to do is find a flag, wait for the music to go up, salute it and start getting after it.”
Dailey agrees with concerns that there should be stricter consequences for failing the Army Physical Fitness Test, and he said there will be stricter consequences as the Army continues to implement STEP (Select, Train, Educate, Promote).
“When we moved into Select, Train, Educate, Promote about two and a half years ago, we made physical fitness a critical part of succeeding in your institutional training experience,” Dailey said. “So if you go to your institutional training experience now and fail the APFT, you will get a derogatory [DA Form] 1059, which will remain in your records. Previously, that was not true. You could fail your school, and then when you passed, that 1059 would come out. It stays in there now. That’s critically important, because when we look for promotion we need to see the whole Soldier concept. So now with STEP, you have to go to your institutional training experience before you can get promoted. It’s a gate. So we’ve said that noncommissioned officers need to be promoted because they’re certified across all three leadership development domains, and now that’s going to be true with STEP. So until you’ve completed your selection, your training in your organization, your education through self-development, and your institutional experience, then and only then will you be able to be promoted. Physical fitness is a key and critical part of that.”
Recently, Dailey announced that the new Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report would be delayed until 2016. Dailey expressed complete confidence in noncommissioned officers adapting to the changes in the coming NCOER, but he said it was necessary to slow the process down to make sure the NCOER is implemented correctly.
“We have to get this right,” Dailey said. “We worked really hard on the new Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report. It is an excellent product. But how we roll it out and how we make it applicable to our noncommissioned officers is essential to the move forward. It’s OK if we slow down to take the time to make sure we train and educate the force on how to appropriately do it. We need buy-in from all the leaders here and across the Army, because this is intended to fix our Noncommissioned Officers Evaluation Report. So I’m not concerned about the Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report; it’s the right way to go. But I am concerned that we make sure that we get it right as we roll it out to the Army. And we’re going to do just that.”
Because the Army as an organization is so large, it has suffered from moving people administratively instead of really managing talent, Dailey said. Though it will be difficult, Dailey hopes leaders can begin to be more involved in some of those decisions.
“We’re a leadership organization,” Dailey said. “I want leaders involved in that. That doesn’t mean leaders will control every facet about where someone PCSes or where they’re going to stay or extending them. But I do need leadership involvement with regard to managing the knowledge, skills and attributes needed to move an individual to the appropriate position that maximizes the capabilities of the organization and strengthens the mission of the United States Army. That’s complex stuff. As big as we are, that’s very complex and very hard to do. So as we move forward, my senior enlisted counsel will work on doing that. Of course, a lot of that will occur at the senior noncommissioned officer ranks. But internal to the organization, I need talent management from the perspective of, ‘I have to give back to the Army sometimes. I have to invest in the future of the Army by sending our young men and women to school to enhance their performance.’ Sometimes that takes sacrifice from a unit. Maybe they’re going to miss a unit field training problem. But what’s more important? Is it more important to invest in that noncommissioned officer for the future or just that two-week field training exercise?”
At the NCO Solarium in May at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Dailey expressed concern about how some Soldiers are behaving on social media. “When Soldiers harass, put [damaging] things on the Internet, they are not in keeping with the honor, tradition and the stewardship of the profession,” he said.
Dailey told the NCO Journal he thinks NCOs can solve the problem without needing new rules and regulations in place. He wants NCOs to have an attitude of “Not in My Squad.”
“It sounds very simplistic, and that’s exactly what I want it to be,” Dailey said. “I want noncommissioned officers to know we trust them, because this is about trust. Trust runs both ways, up and down the chain of command. I want them to understand that we do trust you. We trust you with the lives of … the young men and women that we’ve given you. We’ve bestowed the greatest honor the American society can give to one individual and that is to lead those men and women into combat. That same trust applies when we’re back in garrison. More accurately, there’s no such thing as combat leadership. There’s no such thing as garrison leadership. There’s something called military leadership and Army leadership. It exists regardless of where we are and what we do.”
Every Soldier a billboard
Another topic of discussion that began at the NCO Solarium was the effectiveness of Army branding campaigns. Dailey said he wants Soldiers to see that what is more important than the slogans of “Army Strong” or “Army of One” is the everyday effect a Soldier has walking around his or her community. Dailey wants NCOs to know they are walking billboards for the Army.
“My billboard has and will always say Army Strong,” Dailey said. “I encourage leaders to think about how they are going to paint their own billboard for Soldiers. What is it going to say? You have so much influence on what that billboard says. It can affect whether a Soldier stays in the Army or they transition. It’s critically important that our nation clearly understands and knows that we will always be the organization that is most trusted in America. It takes a lot of billboards to maintain that. It takes a lot of hard work as well. But I always ask this: What do you want your billboard to say? What does it say today? What is it going to say tomorrow?”
Working on their personal billboards and striving to be the best will also help Soldiers have a better chance of staying in the Army as it downsizes, Dailey said. He offered his advice to Soldiers and NCOs looking to take charge of their careers.
“I’ll tell you that you can start first and foremost by listening to your noncommissioned officer every day,” Dailey said. “Do good PT and keep yourself physically fit. When you get the opportunity to go to a military school, stay in it and study hard. Strive to be in the top 10 percent of every school you go to. You should want to, if you want to maintain that edge over your peers. Those are the things you have to go after.”
With deployments to the Middle East slowing, finding ways to give realistic training to Soldiers has become increasingly important. Leaders of the U.S. Army Pacific have come up with a system that allows Soldiers to experience a deployment atmosphere, securing needed training while also cementing bonds with our allies.
As part of the Pacific Pathways system, noncommissioned officers lead Soldiers on monthslong exercises throughout the Pacific area of responsibility. While on the exercises, the Soldiers travel to several countries, spending four to six weeks or more in countries such as South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia, working and training with those nations’ armed forces.
Command Sgt. Maj. Bryant Lambert, command sergeant major of U.S. Army Pacific, said Pacific Pathways exercises are inspiring NCOs at USARPAC because the exercises allow NCOs to do what they do best: train Soldiers.
“Right now, NCOs are ecstatic about Pacific Pathways,” Lambert said. “The noncommissioned officers came into the Army to do exactly what we are doing in Pathways. Pathways is definitely inspiring them, building confidence, the whole nine yards with our noncommissioned officers. Pathways broadens their aperture on how to train with another army without being at war. Our NCOs tell me they are gaining confidence and getting a better perspective on these other countries.
“The important thing about Pathways is that your operational level and your tactical level is exercising mission command,” Lambert continued. “There is no other place you can do that. You can’t replicate that at a Joint Readiness Training Center. This is real world, volatile, efforts and actions taking place at the operational and tactical level of command.”
Staff Sgt. Luis Zayas of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, was part of a Pacific Pathways exercise earlier this year. During the exercise, the division trained with the armies of Thailand, South Korea and the Philippines. Zayas said the exercise was especially useful for the young Soldiers and NCOs who hadn’t been deployed before, allowing them to see what it takes to move their equipment from place to place.
“The NCO should always be leading training,” Zayas said. “That’s what we do as NCOs. But it went even further with some of our younger Soldiers, who aren’t even NCOs, taking charge of training the other armies. Something as simple as teaching their specific job, whether it be how to stack the ammo that we use, how to prep the ammo, and the gunners showing the things that work for them that make them faster at what they do. The teaching went all the way down to the lowest level. They were able to show their counterpart exactly what they do at their level. So it went from the top, all the way down, then back up. It was good.
“Our job is to lead and train Soldiers, and we were not only doing it for our Soldiers, but we were also leading, training and mentoring other countries’ NCOs on how to lead, train and mentor their own soldiers,” Zayas said. “So the biggest takeaway is that we became more proficient as NCOs.”
Rebalance to the Pacific
Pacific Pathways is an important part of the Army’s overall rebalance into the Pacific region. The exercises allow the Army to become more expeditionary and demonstrate our commitment to our allies in the region, Lambert said.
“It has everything to do with the importance of future engagements and future opportunities with other countries,” Lambert said. “We have established a regional partner engagement with all of these countries, and through that we are going to build defense relationships, we are going to have interoperability, and we’re going to help develop our partners’ military capacity. We are doing that through Pathways.
“When you really look at Pathways, we are interoperable with other countries, and it gives us an opportunity to exercise readiness and exercise our mission command, our capabilities. We build multinational relationships. It really complements the Army Operating Concept, which enforces the Joint Operating Concept. It’s to a point that, if we stay engaged, we can get ahead of any crisis.”
During a May visit to USARPAC headquarters at Fort Shafter, Oahu, Hawaii, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey got a close-up look at how USARPAC’s efforts to engage with our partners in the Pacific is paying dividends. Dailey said he came away impressed with how NCOs are building relationships in the Pacific.
“First and foremost, we need to maintain partnerships,” Dailey said. “The world is complex. We see that every single day, and it’s not good to show up when there’s a problem. It’s better if you have formed a relationship, built a strong bond with an organization, a foreign nation, and there’s a level of trust that exists there. When that level of trust exists, and that interoperability exists, it’s much easier for us. We’re an Army in preparation. We must not forget, our main mission is to deter war, and when we’re globally engaged like we are now, it helps us in accomplishing that mission.”
Communication and interoperability
One of the first roadblocks to successfully training with a foreign army is communication. But during their Pacific Pathways exercise in early 2015, NCOs and Soldiers quickly learned how to adapt and overcome language differences, said Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Anderson, infantry sergeant major for the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division.
“To get through the language barrier, well, soldiers are soldiers,” Anderson said. “You put them together in an environment, they’ll figure it out, and they did every time.
“We went in with the understanding that other armies aren’t built exactly like ours,” Anderson said. “But interestingly enough, all three of those countries worked off our doctrine. So they were built similar, just the roles were sometimes a little different. We’d show them our way. They showed us their way. Sometimes we met in the middle, sometimes we just stayed in our two separate ways.”
While in South Korea, the Soldiers often had KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to the United States Army) soldiers available to help them translate, and in the Philippines, many of the foreign soldiers spoke English. While in Thailand, however, NCOs and Soldiers used phone apps, technology and other means to communicate. Zayas said he and his Soldiers found some unorthodox ways to make themselves understood by the Thai soldiers.
“In my job, mortars, it’s a lot of math involved,” Zayas said. “Math is a universal language, so when it came down to it we would just kind of write what we were trying to say on paper. They would look at it, and say, ‘Yeah, we’ve got the same thing.’ There would be no actual speaking going on, but we would all understand what was being said.
“The biggest thing that I learned during Pathways was about how to communicate with the other nations’ soldiers,” Zayas said. “We also had to learn about interoperability. With us not having our equipment there, we had to be able to get on their equipment and learn their systems.”
Learning how to operate another country’s equipment while finding ways to communicate helps grow the NCOs from both countries, said Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones, command sergeant major of the 25th Infantry Division.
“They had a unique opportunity to engage with all of these countries,” Jones said. “As folks continue to be assigned to the Pacific Pathways, this allows them the amazing opportunity to engage. Because in Pacific Pathways you’re dealing with real problems; you’re dealing with real people; you’re dealing with partnership, interoperability. You’re really, truly getting after what defines an organization in action. You’re a unit in motion with real people, real equipment, building relationships in the Pacific.”
As U.S. Army NCOs travel to countries around the Pacific, it’s always important for them to remember that they are exporting professionalism, Lambert said.
“When you come to the Pathways, it’s not associated with a combat environment, so our noncommissioned officers have to think through the scenarios, have to truly look at what ‘partner’ actually means,” Lambert said. “When you are partnering with other countries, and working with the interoperability piece, our noncommissioned officer is really learning and being developed.
“We are dealing with trained, uniformed armies,” Lambert said. “What we are doing is partnering with them. You respect me like I respect you. Their leadership and culture are totally different from ours, and we’re not trying to make them like us. We are trying to establish a bond and maintain a relationship. Our NCOs are exporting professionalism when we train with these other countries. It builds confidence in our noncommissioned officers.”
Other nations’ armies look at the U.S. Army’s NCO Corps and ask, “How can we get our NCO corps to that level,” Lambert said. They want to know how to integrate women into their armed forces and how to improve their NCO academies. The U.S. Army NCO Corps shows them the way forward.
“The (Bangladesh Army) noncommissioned officer academy is run by a one-star general, and all of the instructors are officers,” Lambert said. “We are going to bring them here to Hawaii, and we want them to see our academies and get a perspective, because they couldn’t visualize it. I was in a room with them for about two hours, and they couldn’t visualize noncommissioned officers being empowered to actually run the academy. And they will see that there are no officers in our NCO Academy.
“I told them when you empower your noncommissioned officers, your officers are going to have to learn to lead in that type of environment,” Lambert said. “It’s no longer where the NCOs are not critical thinkers. They are critical thinkers and you empower them to make decisions.”
Zayas said he saw that principle in action on the ground during his Pacific Pathways tour. The foreign armies were able to grow and improve just by watching how U.S. Army NCOs operated.
“Every army, the biggest thing they want is our NCO Corps,” Zayas said. “They wanted to be what our NCOs are. They stood back and watched a lot what we did. From my perspective, we weren’t doing anything outside of what we do as NCOs, but I think they were impressed with how we conducted ourselves and how very little management is needed when Soldiers know the right direction to go.”
During a senior enlisted panel in May at the Association of the United States Army Institute of Land Warfare (LANPAC) Symposium and Exposition in Oahu, Hawaii, senior enlisted leaders from around the Pacific got together to discuss the hurdles of interoperability and working together.
Warrant Officer David Galloway, senior enlisted advisor for the Australian Army, warned that — without follow-up — all those connections made during joint training will be lost.
“When you finished your Pathways, and you moved out of those areas of the Pacific, what have you left behind?” Galloway said. “That’s what you need to ask your NCOs. What connections have you left behind?”
NCOs who were part of the Pathways rotation said, so far, they have been able to keep those connections alive, often through the modern tool many use to stay in touch in 2015: Facebook.
Sgt. Stephen Waller, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, said he experienced a lot of culture shock when he first started the exercise, but he jumped into the opportunity to learn and has stayed in touch with some of the soldiers he met from other countries.
“We’ve stayed in touch with some of the guys on Facebook,” Waller said. “From time to time, they say hello and post stuff, and we post stuff. We met a lot of good people. It was a fun experience.”
Zayas said his experience was similar.
“I’m Facebook friends with at least five or six people from throughout Pathways,” Zayas said. “One major from the Philippines has the same last name as me. We’re in about 100 pictures together on Facebook. We did make good partnerships.
“The thing is, if I come back here later in my career and we do another Pacific Pathways, and, say, the platoon sergeant who I was working with is now the battalion sergeant major or brigade sergeant major, I can send a quick Facebook message to see if they are going to be involved in what we are about to do,” Zayas said.
With Pacific Pathways, USARPAC leaders have hit upon a way to build relationships with our partners in the Pacific, while also offering NCOs and Soldiers a great training tool for their own development. Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Sweezer, command sergeant major of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, said Pathways helped his team in many ways.
“You talk about building adaptive leaders, and Pacific Pathways did that,” Sweezer said. “It built the capability to respond to things in the Pacific. We got partnerships, we got combined arms maneuver in, which is good training. We can build on our readiness, whether it’s maintenance, our personnel readiness, family readiness; it just tied into everything we do.”
SMA Dailey said during his visit to USARPAC headquarters that Pacific Pathways was an important part of the Army’s mission to be regionally aligned, plus offered excellent training opportunities.
“Pathways is really the way to get at, not just building readiness, but extending readiness,” Dailey said. “It does a couple of things. We’re regionally aligned and globally aligned with our Pacific partners out there. It also gives our noncommissioned officers at the unit level the experience they need prior to ever having to serve in that theater of operation, and it extends the readiness from the training plan. So when we train in our units and train up to the National Training Center, by sending those organizations out on our Pathways, they’re getting real, live training every single day, working in their jobs, in real, live scenarios, building partnerships with our partner nations. That’s the success of Pathways.”
The Army is looking at updating the standards for combat-related military occupational specialties. Once final data from the physical demands study have been analyzed, the Army will be closer to realizing its goal ─ finding the right Soldier for the right job.
Researchers from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine of Natick Soldier Systems Center at Natick, Mass., are working with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command on collecting data in the physical demands study. Hundreds of Soldiers at various Army installations have been tested in the research.
The physical demands study is part of Soldier 2020, which will help the Army determine the standards necessary to performcombat-related MOS’s, including those in armor, infantry, field artillery and combat engineering. Soldier 2020 is an initiative designed to integrate women into once-closed MOS’s.
“Soldier 2020 is about a standards-based Army ─ upholding the standards of our profession ─ the Army Profession,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey during the 2013 unveiling of the initiative, when he was TRADOC senior enlisted advisor. “Our work will allow us to match the right Soldiers, regardless of whether they are men or women, to jobs that best correspond to their abilities.”
Testing gets underway
Physical demands study researchers have logged thousands of miles in travel to test hundreds of Soldier volunteers at various Army installations including Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Sill, Okla., and Fort Carson, Colo. They have also tested hundreds of Soldiers in the human research volunteer pool at Natick.
After identifying 31 common and physically demanding tasks in combat-related MOS’s, researchers got to work.
“We went out to different posts, and we [interviewed NCOs] to obtain feedback on the accuracy of the tasks identified for their respective MOS’s,” said Marilyn Sharp, USARIEM’s principal investigator of the study. “We then asked [volunteers] to do the tasks as they were described by TRADOC. We measured. We timed them. We asked them how hard they were working. We try to get the essential aspects of the task.
“What we hope to do in the end is come up with a battery of five or six tests of these physical fitness tests and predictor tests, which will predict performance in your MOS,” Sharp said. “That way we can say in order to be qualified as combat engineer you need to [perform] these five tests, and this is what you need to score on those tests or you probably are not going to make it in that job. That’s the bottom line.”
USARIEM researchers also observed and measured small groups of male and female Soldier volunteers who performed critical task simulations. This helped researchers examine the physiological demands of each task. Measurements included heart rate, oxygen consumption and completion time for each Soldier.
“We performed a line of load-carriage studies where we tracked [Soldiers’] motion and force, so we can figure out what kind of stresses and strains are being placed on the Soldier,” said Dr. Joseph Seay, lead biomechanist of the physical demands study. “… If we find out that one particular activity seems to be relaying a lot of injuries, we can try to simulate that activity as best we can and provide information back up the chain.”
The team of USARIEM investigators includes exercise physiologists, biomechanists and psychologists, as well as Staff Sgt. Shaun Morand, the NCO in charge of the physical demands study.
“We have about nine or so Soldiers working on this study, rotating throughout,” Morand said. “There’s a lot of travel involved. So the Soldiers, most of them laboratory technicians, we’re kind of working outside our MOS strength, trying to help.”
Once the physical demands study is completed, USARIEM researchers will provide TRADOC with recommended courses of action. Then TRADOC will analyze data, which may ultimately lead to changes in the standards for combat-related MOS’s.
Morand is among the team members proudly sharing and collecting a few new skills while participating in the massive research effort. Working on the study has afforded him several broadening opportunities.
“I think it’s gratifying because you’re seeing major changes that are coming in the Army and you’re a part of that,” Morand said. “This study is going to change the future of the Army. Also, I have never been involved in the research field area, so I am learning a lot as well about the whole process. There’s a lot more to it than I thought.”
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