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TEACH, COACH AND MENTOR

By MSG Daniel W. Feazelle, Battalion Sergeant Major 1-174th Infantry Brigade

(First Army Unit at Fort Drum, New York)

As the Battalion Sergeant Major of 1-174th IN BDE, a congressionally mandated Training Support Twenty One (XXI) program (popularly known as AC/RC). I am the principal trainer of the Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) who perform the duties of Observer/Controller-Trainers (O/C-T) for the Enhanced Brigade and other units in our area of responsibility. This is no easy feat given the limited doctrine on the responsibilities of the Observer/Controller-Trainers (OC-T).

The 1-174th O/C-Ts walk a fine line every time they come in contact with units of the Enhanced Infantry Brigades in 1st Army. The are the principal evaluators and the most visible representatives of the active component for the enhanced brigades during lanes training, pre & post-mobilization training, validation, and any other Unit Mission Training Support (UMTS) conducted throughout the year. Since Army National Guard (ARNG) units only have 39 days a year to train, there is no room for error in our approach to teaching, coaching, and mentoring these great soldiers.

The purpose of this article is to provide 1-174th's approach to training our OC-Ts and preparing them for their difficult, but enormously rewarding mission. To accomplish this, the mission of the 1-174th and the commander's intent and training strategy must first be clearly understood. Secondly, the roles and responsibilities of the OC-T must be identified. Finally, the 1-174th's OC-T Certification Program provides the framework to the battalion's program to train the OC-Ts.

Mission

1-174th Infantry Brigade executes lanes, STXs, and Unit Mission Training Support at selected Inactive Duty Training (IDT) and Annual Training (AT) sites to increase Force Support Package, Enhanced Brigade, Latest Arrival Date Less Than 30 Forces (LAD <30) and other designated units pre-mobilization training readiness. On order, conduct post-mobilization training for selected Reserve Component units, and provide augmentation to Military Support to Civilian Authorities (MSCA) in support of the Federal Response Team.

Commanders Intent

Purpose: Execute lanes, STXs, Unit Mission Training Support and after action reviews (AARs) that measurably increases client unit combat readiness.

Key Tasks:

    • Plan, Observe, Control, and Execute lane and STX training.
    • Execute AARs and provide feedback that enhance the unit's ability to master and sustain proficiency in their pre-mobilization sets and provide an added value to the unit. As required, provide feedback using the Training Assessment Model (TAM)
    • Execute and Structure Unit Mission Training Support that results in a value-added training event that tangibly demonstrates the client unit's increased task proficiency.
    • Teach, Coach and Mentor unit in training management to include METL and Yearly Training Plan (YTP) development.

ENDSTATE: Exportable O/C-T packages are postured and ready to provide exercise and training support to client units. Client units will have received a "TRAINED" assessment for their pre-mobilization sets and they will continue to sustain proficiency in those tasks. Client units are postured to rapidly transition to post- mobilization requirements based on theater-specific tasks.

Battalion METL

    • Plan, Coordinate and Execute Lane Training and Provide Feedback
    • Train, Certify and Sustain O/C-T Proficiency
    • Provide Unit Mission Training Support to Designated RC Units

Common O/C-T Functions.

Control and Observe Training. Controlling training does not mean leading the unit, it refers to ensuring the unit understands and follows the EXROE. Assessing casualties and reporting unit activities are important aspects of controlling. Observing training requires the O/C-T to be where the action is; observing key events and activities with a skilled eye ensures the feedback provided to the unit in Take Home Packets (THPs) and AARs is accurate. Don't compromise the unit by your actions while observing, maintain a lower profile than they do.

Provide Feedback and Conduct AARs. The feedback is provided through the comments made during AARs, in the THPs, and during the exercise. The daily one-on-one discussions with the RC units are extremely beneficial. Whether you personally conduct AARs or not, your input is necessary for a quality AAR.

Monitor Safety. Conducting training safely is everyone's responsibility. The RC combat unit looks for the O/C-T to set the example. The O/C-T must have prepared a risk assessment and compare this with the evaluated unit's chain of command.

O/C-T Standards.

    • When in charge, TAKE CHARGE! An O/C-T is invisible but always in control. Be where you can observe and control. An O/C-T will not compromise the BLUEFOR or OPFOR unit, or its location.
    • An O/C-T is committed to providing the most realistic training to the player unit. Realism is important; enforce it vigorously. "Dead" soldiers do not put themselves on evacuation vehicles or dig their own graves. Ensure casualties are treated IAW EXROE. Don't identify OPFOR leader casualties for the unit, let them figure it out on their own.
    • An O/C-T does not influence the battle through subjective decisions based on emotion, but rather, through both subjective and objective evaluations embedded in the spirit of the EXROE, doctrine, and common sense.
    • O/C-Ts are only responsible for understanding and enforcing the EXROE.
    • Use of the controller gun is only to enforce and follow IAW EXROE.
    • An O/C-T is obviously an expert in his field, but never pompous, overbearing, vacillating, obnoxious or judgmental. We have all walked in these boots. The RC Unit sees all O/C-Ts as experts, even if it is the O/C- Ts first rotation. Be prepared by knowing EXROE and doctrine from the Mission Training Plans (MTP) and accepted tactics, techniques, and procedure (TTP).
    • An O/C-T must know what the unit leader is thinking and why the unit is doing whatever it is doing. O/C-T will never guess or assume; but must ask point blank questions if necessary. An O/C-T must understand the unit leader's reasoning to judge BLUEFOR actions. Do not lead the unit. Note when unit keys on O/C-T for AAR comment.
    • O/C-Ts must explain everything to the RC Unit in tactical terms.
    • An O/C-T will always ensure his vehicle is properly marked with a white triangle (approx. 9 inches per side) with "O/C-T" and your call sign on it, a red light/red chemlight on front and back, and GLINT tape on top. Combat park O/C-T vehicles in a concealed position.
    • Don't update unit on BDA, except in AARs.
    • Do not assist, instead coach, the unit in tactical decisions. Emergency and safety situations which require O/C-T assistance are exceptions.
    • An O/C-T maintains high safety standards and enforces them.
    • O/C-Ts will prevent pyrotechnics from being expended after ENDEX - NO MAD MINUTE. Intervene with RC Unit or OPFOR chain of command if necessary.
    • An O/C-T will not consume food or beverage with or around player unit.
    • An O/C-T uses proper RTO procedures, and guards against being overheard by player and OPFOR units; keep volume down and whisper at night. Stay on the net. Use radio discipline; state the facts, be professional, avoid sarcasm, and eliminate the BS. Be advised many people listen in on your net.
    • An O/C-T always exercises noise and light discipline and polices the training area aggressively.
    • An O/C-T understands and conforms to Army doctrine.
    • An O/C-T will never argue with RC Unit or OPFOR personnel. When the decision is made, it's final.
    • Report, correct, and follow-up on EXROE violations.
    • An O/C-T will never show how he feels about a particular unit or individual action through gesture or demeanor.
    • An O/C-T must know the terrain. Learn the roads, trails, O/C-T landmarks, and recon sites for LZs and DZs. O/C-Ts must carry a map and overlay of unit boundaries and approved exercise maneuver box. Maintain your orientation.
    • An O/C-T who drives a vehicle must be licensed on that vehicle and will complete a daily PMCS. Drive with brake lights on during daylight hours.
    • An O/C-T will deploy with all serviceable equipment properly marked and worn to O/C-T standard. LCE will be buckled. Stay in uniform while driving. Do not display unauthorized items.
    • An O/C-T will maintain high standards in personal appearance. Haircuts and mustaches will conform to Army standards; uniforms will be serviceable. Shave daily and camouflage throughout the day as needed.

Observer/Controller-Trainer Commandments

    • Always exercise common sense and good judgment.
    • Know, understand, and enforce the EXROE.
    • Be an expert in your field and doctrinally correct. When in doubt, check with higher.
    • Maintain high standards of personal appearance and conduct.
    • Be a MILES expert and enforce MILES procedures.
    • Know the safety standards and enforce them; soldier welfare and safety are paramount.
    • Never talk about unit performance or individual proficiency with a member of the training unit's chain of command or any person who does not "need to know". Don't compare units.
    • Prepare, rehearse, and conduct AARS which are professional and doctrinally correct.
    • Use and reinforce the unit chain of command. Only take charge when ROE/safety violations occur or when life, limb, or eyesight are threatened, and the chain of command needs assistance.
    • React to contacts and go where the action is.

How the 1-174th Gets the Job Done

Observer/Controller-Trainer (O/C-T) Certification Program 174th Infantry Brigade. The O/C-T certification program is an internal program ran at BDE and BN level. We maintain 10% of CTC O/C academy graduates to ensure we are up on the current O/C methods used. The NCOs are also put through an Mobile Training Team (MTT) here at Fort Drum from the Infantry Training Center at Fort Benning, GA where they must prove their knowledge in basic and advanced Infantry tactics, through the Infantry Tactics Certification Course and exam yearly. Battle Staff NCO course for those in 2S slots give my NCOs the flexibility to BE, KNOW, and DO in both the tactics and all levels of operations during evaluations. Combat Lifesaver Course is required for each O/C-T in the Battalion to provide that extra assurance that no one is hurt during training. Total Quality Management Awareness Courses are also provided through 1st Army for each O/C-T, this provides systems for total quality in everything we do. These are essential tools available to the success of our unit in increasing the training readiness and overall combat effectiveness of Reserve Component units. Our Credibility for providing accurate and honest evaluations depends primarily on the competency and professionalism of my O/C-Ts and in the performance of their duties. Our O/C-Ts must have a thorough understanding of training management, troop leading procedures and methodology (how we train), and must be experts in warfighting doctrine. The O/C-T certification program consist of two phases.

(1) Phase I, Core Training: Is the heart of the O/C-T training program. A majority of the instruction focuses on providing the soldier with requisite skills and knowledge associated with observer/controlling duties. Range Certification, Drivers Training, MILES certification, Communication instructions and programming, Rules of Engagement (ROE) classes, Training Assessment Model (TAM) class, Conducting the After Action Review (AAR), Fully understanding Troop Leading procedures are just some of the classes conducted during Phase I.

(2) Phase Ia, Combat Training Center Observer/Controller Academy:

This training is conducted at the CTCs for a minimum of 10% of the O/C-Ts. The remainder will be put through a home station right seat ride certification lesson plan that will allow the O/C-T to shadow and observe a fully qualified O/C-T and conduct an AAR after a training event. Only after successfully completing this phase will the O/C-T move on to Phase III.

(3) Phase II, Sustainment Training/Tactical Proficiency: The objective of this phase is to master proficiency on those selected tasks that will be executed on LANEs during Annual Training (AT) events. This training is conducted throughout the training year and is included in our NCODP and OPD programs. These are very important programs in the Battalion and we use them to keep technically and tactically proficient. They are so important that the Battalion Commander certifies the lane. Recertification is conducted throughout the year to keep those skills sharp and crisp.

The After Action Review (AAR)

An AAR is an analysis of performance; it provides soldiers and units feedback on mission and task accomplishment. After Action Reviews identify how to correct shortcomings and sustain strengths; they serve as a leadership development tool. The art of conducting the AAR is mastered only through years of experience and training. Practice and critique are vital to getting a good result. The AAR is conducted at the conclusion of a pure lane or at appropriate points during integrated lanes. This is where we make our money.

The Take Home Package (THP)

The task summary sheets from the MTPs, along with the executive summary and soldiers skills assessment, are provided to the Battalion CDR, BN S3, XO and CSM. Each Company Commander, XO and 1SG are provided tasks summary sheets that are pertinent to their mission. This provides an excellent tool for the Commander and his Staff for the next years training. The focus is cause and effect provided in the narrative comments on the Task Summary Sheet. T, P, & U are ways to measure the units effectiveness during the Battle Drill. Leader Task Proficiency along with Individual Task Proficiency are recorded also. Casualty Report for both friendly and OPFOR. When fratricide occurs a red flag goes up and is stressed forcefully during the AAR and THP.

Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk

The O/C-T is a trainer and troop leader, fully qualified in his duty MOS and has proven his worth by meeting all required screening and selection processes done by Infantry Branch. The O/C-T lives by, fully understands, integrates and practices the new Army Values (LDRSHIP) on a daily basis. O/C-Ts of my Battalion are team players, maintain the highest standards, competent, professional and hard working. This is a unique assignment with excellent potential for advancement in the Infantry field. Mandatory 3 year tours for NCOs and 2 years for Officers. There are many challenging personnel and professional opportunities in this assignment that must be taken advantage of. The O/C-T must live by the high standard and stand tall on the pedestal the Army Leadership has placed him on. Watch for them as they go back to TO&E units and prepare for duties of increased responsibility. Take advantage of what they can offer.

" NCO's Lead the Way"

(At the time of publication) MSG Feazelle is currently the Battalion Sergeant Major of the 1-174th Infantry Brigade stationed at Fort Drum, NY.

This article is also posted on the Center for Army Lessons Learned Website.