CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – While the Minnesota-based Brigade Special Troops Battalion’s soldiers are busy maintaining the grounds and providing life support for the thousands of troops that occupy Zone 6 of Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, four hours every Wednesday, it is back to the basics. Required sergeant’s time training is in full force with a wide array of topics that cover weapons qualification, to equal opportunity training to Army warrior tasks. It is vital for soldiers to maintain the mandatory standards that the Army requires even while deployed in support of a contingency operation.
Besides qualifying on Kuwaiti weapons ranges with different weapons systems, throwing hand grenades, individual movement techniques – the things we first learned in basic combat training, the troops have had the great opportunity to gain knowledge on personal and professional development. The level of civilian and military experience the Brigade Special Troops Battalion has is tremendous that has helped many citizen soldiers in different areas. Capt. Carl Thunem, contracting officer representative, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, of Minneapolis, Minn., instructed a class on building a résumé and has since gone even further to reach out to employers within Minnesota to expose the Minnesota National Guard soldiers and their experience.
“I think it's very important to do what we can to prepare soldiers for success after this deployment” said Thunem.
Keeping strong bonds with family and friends back home is as important in keeping in tune with the mission the Army has presented to the soldiers. Master Sgt. Brian Newcomer, operations sergeant, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, of Anoka, Minn., instructed mandated resilience training to the soldiers of the Brigade Special Troops Battalion and has certified 19 resilience training assistants. Being one the master resilience trainers of the state of Minnesota, he helped soldiers convey their top strengths in life and use them to their advantage, while also being able to identify weaknesses with an end result of comprehensive soldier fitness.
“Resilience training is sergeants’ business. We need to train and empower our first line leaders to give soldiers tools that can help them when times are tough. Resilience training is not a sign of the Army getting soft, it’s a sign of the Army adapting to the changing needs of our soldiers in order to accomplish the mission. In fact, resilient soldiers are capable of withstanding the mental rigors of difficult situations more effectively than less resilient soldiers” said Newcomer.
The Army has focused a higher level of awareness and training on mental health more than ever with the increased suicides since the beginning of the war on terror. Suicide prevention/awareness, sexual harassment and equal opportunity are all amongst ongoing training the Brigade Special Troops Battalion has instructed.
Other training the battalion has completed include classification, leader development, Army physical fitness and drug testing, award writing, react to contact, move-under-fire drills and several safety exercises and training.