MAY 30, 2017,HOHENFELS, Germany – In 2017, of the ten major exercise scheduled for the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, five will host a brigade and higher echelon for a decisive action training environment exercise. These exercises integrate U.S. forces and NATO allies and partners to conduct unified land operations training in a realistic, modern combat scenario.
In order to achieve the training objectives of the unit, and ensure the safety of all participants, JMRC reaches out to European-based U.S. units and allies to provide skilled service members who serve as temporary observer coach trainers (OC/T).
“I performed as a guest OC/T augmented to the JMRC Mustang Team evaluating 3rd Infantry Division’s Brigade Surgeon Cell during Combined Resolve VII in 2016,” said Capt. Elvin Marmol, Commander, Charlie Company (Charlie Med), Regimental Medical Support Troop, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. “It’s a valuable opportunity to watch a unit refine their tactical standard operating procedures in an intense rotation like Combined Resolve VII.”
Marmol took the lessons of this training well and retained this “insider’s advantage” before recently taking command of Charlie Med and deploying the company to Hohenfels for Exercise Saber Junction 17 this May.
The last days of exercise Saber Junction 17, Soldiers are packing field gear in preparation for movement. The atmosphere is busy but deliberate as Marmol synchronizes operations in his HMMWV. He listens to radio traffic intently awaiting instructions to move his troop back to their home station at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany.
“Being an augment OC/T helped me see Charlie Med’s preparation and execution of exercise Saber Junction 17 through a different lens,” said Marmol.
Preparation for deployment by all echelons of a unit’s leadership can be one of the more challenging aspects of a training exercise. Having seen the challenges firsthand in another unit, and having the opportunity to openly discuss the lessons learned with that unit provided insights which Marmol could capitalize on when his turn came in a JMRC rotation.
In fact, serving as an OC/T augmentee at JMRC is a step in the on-going commitment of U.S. Army Europe to build trained and ready junior leaders, and give them a leadership lab to experience the full range of modern combat training.
Marmol added Saber Junction 17 came as a unique challenge by simulating a full regiment deployment with 96-hour deployment sequence. A test which the medical support squadron more than welcomed.
“The point of Saber Junction is taking the regiment straight into a defense, with forward passage of lines and support assets set as we would be deployed- like, tomorrow,” said Marmol.
He read off achievements of his troop proudly.
“We treated 71 real-world injuries, performed 20 real-world medical evacuations, 368 notional casualties, 269 national medical evacuations in the air and on ground within the 14-day exercise.”
“Our Soldiers performed so well,” Marmol beamed.
“I would more than welcome, and will recommend the opportunity for my officers and noncommissioned officers.”
Marmol’s immense confidence and bearing is a reflection of his experience.
Serving as a guest OC/T at JMRC provides useful context and relevant lessons to Soldiers, whether they participate in a future exercise here, or rely on this knowledge when leading Soldiers and planning missions.
“Unfortunately, we are not manned at JMRC to cover down on a brigade-level rotation,” said Col. Curtis Buzzard, Commander Operations Group for JMRC. “But, this provides an opportunity for others to learn about what we do here; learn, and better prepare for future training here.”
The experience brings several advantages to the service member and JMRC.
“Being a guest OC/T here provides a tremendous leader development opportunity,” added Buzzard. “It’s an opportunity to enhance your technical and tactical skills through learning from our professional OC/Ts and from watching another unit.”
Leaders must see JMRC’s OC/T experience as an opportunity. A solid investment to make in their members, and not a tasking, added Buzzard.
“It is a leader development opportunity, whether coming through an exercise later or moving to the higher level of responsibility,” said Buzzard.
“Ideally, serving as a guest OC/T will offer the chance to learn from the progress of others,” said Buzzard. “Bringing that knowledge back to the unit, all will perform at a higher level.”
By Sgt. Karen Stevens Sampson