Updated: Dec 3, 2019
It’s my pleasure to submit my first Shimbun as commander of the Rakkasans. As it is customary to the Rakkasan culture, we continue to focus on individual skills training; with that being said, we channeled that focus on executing and completing a unit cohesion, esprit de corps training event at Camp James E. Rudder at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., August 26-29.
The purpose of this was to execute an effective exercise of mission command across the brigade and improve overall unit readiness in support of contingency operations. My intent was to execute a patrol-based tactical leader event designed to build team cohesion, increase tactical proficiency, and increase unit lethality and readiness.
The battalion and company command teams were tasked to conduct tactical mission planning, conduct 24-hours of patrols through challenging terrain and to conduct an Air Assault in an effort to meet my intent and to prepare for worldwide contingency operations, and to insure they are able to execute mission command against a near-peer enemy in a decisive action environment while operating as a cohesive team. The command teams were inserted via rotary wing lift assets in the vicinity of the helicopter landing zone and secured the HLZ for the insertion of notional follow on forces while they conducted hasty planning for movement and subsequent raids. The teams also conducted movement through the ‘Boiling’ swamp en route to a one rope bridge crossing the Yellow River near Camp James. Soon thereafter, the platoons conducted a deliberate raid and a follow-on ambush crushing the OPFOR. The event ended with a robust physical fitness event and group social for a job well done.
In addition to the command team event at Camp Rudder, 1st Squadron – 33rd Calvary Regiment the “War” Rakkasans finalized their Excellence in Armor training; additionally, 21 BEB the “Solid” Rakkasans conducted multi-component training with the 467th Engineer Battalion (USAR) and a tactical operations center exercise to revalidate mission command systems following the Joint Readiness Training Center exercise.
The brigade and several battalion staffs conducted the Military Decision-Making Process while also conducting Battle Space Workstation training for all their ‘pucksters’ in preparation for Eagle Talon II, a comprehensive deployment simulation.
Rakkasans focus shifted from Eagle Talon II planning to execution at the end of July. The following month began with mini exercises at the Kinnard Mission Training Center to better prepare the BSWS operators and response cell staffs to execute the command post exercise. The BCT staff continues to execute air assault planning in accordance with Gold Book standards by conducting air mission briefs with the CAB in preparation for two simulated battalion-level air assaults. Staffs from brigade headquarters, the battalions along with the Division Artillery stood up their response/work cells full time in support of the exercise through the mid-AAR into the following week. Furthermore, Assurgam conducted a Company field training exercise, focused on maintaining proficiency in its assigned mission essential tasks. White Currahee and Leader continued to prepare for missions in support of U.S. Army Africa. Individual skills training continued, as the Rakkasans conducted a Consolidated Individual Skills (CONSKILLS) ‘train-the-trainer’ Training designed to establish a baseline standard not only for technical and tactical proficiency, but also for training standards.
The Rakkasans forged ahead in support of WFX 20-01; the event, coupled with Eagle Talon II and the multiple staff exercises that accompanied each, provided an invaluable opportunity for the BCT and participating battalion/squadron staffs to train for large scale combat operations against a tough, realistic enemy. The event allowed the BCT to develop and refine staff processes, and more importantly, allowed a young staff, highly impacted by turnover following JRTC, to grow as a team. Leader, Red Knights, and War battalions experienced similar benefits as their staffs were given the opportunity to work one or two levels up in support of the exercise. Overall, the staffs synchronized their efforts across all warfighting functions, and refined their planning and mission command SOPs to ensure that we are ready now.
In addition to focusing on War Fighter Exercise 20-01, Rakkasans across the formation also executed multiple ranges to enhance readiness and lethality. Leader Battalion completed their two-week partnered training with. The training included a Company minus air assault, engagement area development, force on force maneuver, and air to ground integration with AH-64s and MQ-1C ER “Gray Eagles”. White Currahee and the Red Knights conducted various range density qualification ranges. White Currahee’s mortar and fire support teams also participated in Mortar Gunnery tables IV-V. Finally, White Currahee transitioned with Strike and are fully prepared to support USARAF operations on the African continent. Also, members of A Company, 626th Brigade Support Battalion earned recognition from the United States Army Forces Command Supply Excellence Award Program as the Calendar Year 19/20 best Supply Support Activity.
As you can see the Rakkasans are focused on winning, winning, and winning.
The War Rakkasans hosted 1-75 CAV from Strike for a Cavalry Day Event, providing an opportunity for both Squadrons to compete in multiple events to build esprit de corps across their formations. The Iron Rakkasans also executed a week long PT competition that physically challenged their Soldiers and leaders through a series of physical and mental events each day.
The brigade was proud to host visits from ESPN in the spring for their salute to veterans honors mid-November, offering the Rakkasans a chance to highlight our warrior athletes and our focus on combat fitness. In conclusion, its been my pleasure to share with you the outstanding achievements for our outstanding Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
Let Valor not Fail!