Murphy's Law: August 9, 2004

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Is the US Army Reserve Command (USARC) be forced to rethink its training program? The Army  is now conducting specialized convoy training for units before the deploy to Iraq. This is in sharp contrast to earlier policies that downplayed combat training. USARC,  throughout the 1990s, struck deals with the Armys industrial base to utilize Army transportation, engineer, and maintenance units at these facilities in exchange for reimbursement of some of the cost involved. This saved USARC money in moving men and equipment to and from annual training sites, it also allowed them to charge almost all cost, except the soldiers salaries, to the industrial base. This seemed like a good trade at the time. Reserve engineers worked at repairing and improving ammunition plants, Reserve truck transportation units hauled cargo for TRANSCOM over long haul routes, and Reserve maintenance units worked at Army Deports repairing equipment. The drawback to this was the severe limits placed on tactical training. Engineers upgrading storage bunkers in ammo plants had strict safety rules to follow, including no training ammunition allowed inside the plant. Units were not even allowed to take their SINCGARS radios to job sites. Transportation units conducting long haul operations on the Nations Interstates could not integrate a react to ambush on the New Jersey Turnpike. The situation grew to the point that training was sacrificed to deliver goods or meet construction schedules. Army Reserve engineers started calling their two weeks Annual Contracting instead of Annual Training. The need for soldiers to be able to operate in a hostile environment has highlighted the shortsightedness of this program. Now many units deploying to Iraq have to go through refresher tactical training to make up for the short cuts of the 1990s. Soldiers first - specialist second appears to have been forgotten until now. William Gross

 


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