When the chaplains and chaplain assistants gather for monthly training, they usually do so at a chapel or conference room setting.
Last week, the installation’s spiritual leaders took a different approach – a little more hands-on and warrior-focused, at the installation’s Warrior Training Center.
Sgt. 1st Class Bobby Meredith, Warrior Training Center instructor, led the group in blocks of instruction on medical aid and then introduced them to the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000. The EST2000 is an indoor firing range, where Soldiers train on a variety of weapons systems and engage in real-life scenarios presented on the screen. Participants can review their actions on playback, see where their shots landed and whether they successfully complied with the rules of engagement by reacting appropriately to each situation.
While chaplains are non-combatants and deploy without a weapon, the weapons training was beneficial to the chaplain assistants. The simulations allowed assistants to practice their weapon skills and the chaplains observing this portion of the training were pleased to see how well their assistants performed.
“This training helps the chaplain’s assistant to become aware of the war-time environment for theater deployments,” said Chaplain (Col.) James Walker, Installation Chaplain. “Because it is prior to an actual deployment, it works to build teamwork, cohesion and fosters a ‘go-to-war’ mentality.”
Spc. Yvonne Brooks, Installation Chaplain’s Office, had conducted weapons qualification and combat life saving at the WTC before. However, reacting to crowd control and insurgent attack scenarios was something completely different from past training.
“I thought it was awesome because it felt so real,” said Brooks. “It was good training, and the chaplain’s assistants got a chance to show the chaplains what we can do.”
As the assistants demonstrated their tactical skills with the support of the chaplains watching them, Chaplain Walker felt reassured that the Soldiers were up to the task in training, and would be equally adept to the task when deployed.
“Chaplain’s assistants, according to doctrine, their mission is to protect the chaplains so that the chaplain can remain a valuable asset to the unit or organization and provide and perform religious support,” said Chaplain Walker.
Meredith also demonstrated the proper application of tourniquets and bandages, and the group paired off to practice on each other.
The day’s training concluded as Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Aubain, Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee command sergeant major, invited the group back to train on other exercises offered at the center. Walker said that the training exceeded their expectations and is considering another round of warrior training in the future.
“Emphatically, yes, we would like to conduct more training like this,” said Chaplain Walker. “Command Sgt. Maj. Aubain and his cadre at the Warrior Training Center has worked very hard to make sure Soldiers are prepared to deploy. I would be inclined to continue this type of training to hone our Soldiers skills.”