The Bayonet

Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014

Reservists train IET Soldiers in Echo units

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Fort Benning trains approximately 34,000 initial entry training Soldiers per year.

During the summer, a higher training load, known as the summer surge, places an increased demand on training units.

"Of the 34,000 IET Soldiers trained here at Fort Benning last year, 16,612 were trained during the four-month summer surge," said Paul Pass, reports technician with 30th Adjutant General Reception Battalion.

To assist with the increased requirements, Army Reserve drill sergeants and Soldiers are integrated into Fort Benning's 194th Armor Brigade and 198th Infantry Brigade initial entry training mission as part of the Echo Company Model.

"Reserve training units send Soldiers to Training and Doctrine Command installations to fulfill annual training requirements, while providing extra manpower to active-duty units," said Sgt. 1st Class David McQuaide, 1st Battalion, 330th Infantry Regiment.

Col. Michael Kasnic, U.S. Army Reserve liaison to TRADOC, said 216 Soldiers, from at least 12 USAR Basic Combat Training companies, will support Fort Benning, while an additional 66 Soldiers from the 95th, 98th and 104th Divisions will provide support to reception battalion and committee operations this year.

"The 108th Training Command will send 342 ... 11 and 19 series ... Soldiers to Fort Benning to support the Infantry and Cavalry one station unit training missions," he said.

1st Sgt. Timothy Beavis, 30th AG, said the Reserve drill sergeants are force multipliers and work many hours augmenting the company.

"The reserve drill sergeant assigned to my company has been a drill sergeant since 2005," he said.

"He has more time on the trail than all of my drills, which brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the company."

McQuaide said there are still those who have misguided perceptions of Reserve drill sergeants.

"The perception can be that Reserve drill sergeants are less professional and poorly trained compared to their active duty counterparts," he said.

"I assure you nothing could be farther from the truth. We are pretty hard on ourselves because we don't want to be perceived that way. We are an organization of professionals; we have EMTs, paramedics, police officers and firefighters in our organization. We have lots of civilian and military experience to contribute." The drill sergeant mission is not something new to the Reserves.

The U.S. Army Reserve has executed a reserve drill sergeant mission since 1992, Kasnic said.

All Reserve drill sergeants attend the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, side by side with their active duty counterparts.

Supporting Reserve battalions provide teams of 18 personnel for six rotations only during the annual training season to support one basic training company cycle and work with active duty drill sergeants.

"Using both the active drill sergeants and the Reserve 'Echo Company' provides continuity throughout the cycle," Kasnic said. "Leadership and administrative personnel that come over as part of the reserve team also intersperse under the battalion structure to provide mission support.

"USAR support to the Army is critical to TRADOC's ability to successfully meet the Army's initial entry training mission. This support also trains the USAR to execute their strategic mission in support of a national emergency."

Kasnic said during mobilization, active-duty Soldiers performing the IET mission would leave the Army training commands to support other requirements, and the USAR units would mobilize and perform the initial entry training mission.

"We always need to be ready," said Master Sgt. William Brownback, 1st Battalion, 330th Infantry Regiment. "We were used frequently during the surge from 2004 until 2012. Many of our drill sergeants served one year or longer rotations allowing for their active duty counterparts to deploy."

Col. Scott King, commander of the 194th Armor Brigade, said it's not just an opportunity to get more bodies, but is a "partnership."

"As the Army draws down this is a strategic way to add expandability to the force," he said.

"As we downsize we will still have an available pool of drill sergeants ready if needed."

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