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Achieving excellence through readiness

2nd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. commander

Published: 05:19PM July 17th, 2014

Last month, the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, “Lancers,” completed an extremely successful rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. At NTC, the Lancer Team fought a highly organized and well-equipped near-peer armored military force.

This armored threat is in stark contrast from the insurgents the Lancers confronted in 2012 in Afghanistan, and the threat that our Nation’s military has confronted for the past 13 years of conflict. While the Lancers returned from Operation Enduring Freedom with significant expertise in counterinsurgency operations, much like the rest of our military, they possessed limited experience in highly lethal conventional offensive and defensive operations. In 12 short months, the Lancers adjusted focus from stability operations to building excellence in operations across the entire conflict continuum, including major offensive and defensive operations.

They did this by focusing on readiness: individual readiness, training readiness, and equipment readiness. The brigade leveraged this readiness to create a team that can fight, win and complete the mission in any conflict and environment.

Individual readiness is simple, but a key component to a unit’s overall readiness. In the Lancer Brigade, the foundation is physical training. The unit uses PT to build a foundation of resilience, cohesion, pride, and discipline amongst leaders and Soldiers. During the train-up for NTC, the Lancers also focused on the building blocks for combat units, Excellence in Armor and the Expert Infantryman Badge training. As stated by Command Sgt. Maj. John Roome of 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, “the EIB isn’t just some piece of metal on a uniform; it’s a demonstration of the Soldier’s capability to perform fundamental tasks to a high degree of proficiency.” In the Army, we often say that good units do routine things routinely. The Lancer Brigade’s focus on individual training with a strong leadership development program, built proficiency in Soldiers and leaders, providing the brigade with the foundation required to transition smoothly into collective training.

The Lancer Brigade focused on demanding, realistic, collective training. This training included multiple live fire training exercises that stressed teams, squads, sections, platoons, companies, and battalions to synchronize effects while maneuvering forces. In addition, with the assistance of the JBLM Mission Training Complex, the Lancers conducted multiple command post exercises, integrating mission command nodes at division, brigade, battalion, and company levels. These events allowed the team to refine processes and maximize the extensive network infrastructure organic to a Stryker brigade.

The brigade identified three key takeaways from these training events. First, the importance of defining and prosecuting the brigade fight. Equally important is leveraging all systems in the brigade to create and maintain shared understanding across the force, a critical component of mission command. Finally, engaging and training with enabling units, such as aviation, engineer, chemical, and sustainment units, early built relationships and facilitating shared understanding during the rotation.

Lastly, the Lancers exceeded standards for equipment readiness. This allowed the Lancers to deploy to the National Training Center with a 95 percent operational readiness rate with all required equipment on-hand. The Lancers’ care of equipment enables success and is a part of the culture that they live daily. The brigade also ensured maximum integration of new equipment into operations, to leverage new technologies. Of particular benefit was the recent fielding of the Blue Force Tracker 2 system, which provides over-the-horizon communications and connectivity, and a Common Operating Picture.

These simple keys to success are a part of the culture in the Lancer Brigade. Although they confronted a daunting threat, the brigade was successful at NTC by displaying organizational proficiency and agility. The brigade now stands ready to accomplish their assigned mission, anywhere in the world. They were hand selected by the commanding general of United States Army Pacific, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, to conduct partnered military exercises in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Japan this fall in conjunction with the Nation’s rebalance to the Pacific. It is apparent that the Lancer Brigade will continue to be successful by focusing on these three keys to success: individual readiness, training readiness, and equipment readiness.