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Commanders Comments

Updated: Dec 21, 2018

The quarterly update from Rakk6


Rakkasans past and present,


The autumn months have seen the Rakkasan Brigade continue to rise above the rest and set the standard across the Army. Our active training calendar included multiple live-fire

exercises to build our lethality and readiness to “Fight Tonight,” innovation forums to leverage diverse ideas from across our formation to increase our efficiency and

organizational effectiveness, and world-class individual skills training through our execution of the first Expert Infantry Badge (EIB) event in the Army with new, tougher standards. Our Rakkasans continued to distinguish themselves around the Army through participation in numerous individual and team competitions, including the Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. Best Medic Competition (BMC), Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Competition (CAFSAC), and the Fort Benning International Sniper Competition. The intense training over the past several months will prepare us for greater challenges ahead as we take the entire Rakkasan Brigade to the field for a complex training exercise that will include thousands of Soldiers across multiple installations, followed by our crucible capstone training event at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La in March.


After taking a short break in July to spend time with family, the brigade wasted no time in transitioning back to the intense training that defines a Rakkasan Soldier. During the month of August, we welcomed Cadets from the United States Military Academy (USMA) to train alongside our Soldiers and junior officers. For nearly a month, these cadets received valuable experience that will prepare them to be successful future Platoon Leaders, conducting Physical Readiness Training, planning and leading field training, and receiving mentorship from multiple senior leaders across the Brigade and Division; all under the watchful eye of the best non-commissioned officers in the United States Army. When the Cadets returned to

West Point, they took with them valuable experience, and the knowledge of what right should look like in an Infantry Brigade Combat Team. At the same time, assumed responsibility of Eagle Guard, with 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment ‘Leader Rakkasans’ assisting Fort Campbell’s emergency response teams to keep our Soldiers, families and civilians safe on post. Our intelligence sections participated in an Intelligence Exercise (INTELEX), three weeks of long days and nights to hone their ability to collect and process intelligence data that will be critical to staying ahead of any enemy on future battlefields.


After Labor Day, the Rakkasans charged into September with the final phases of their EIB training, being the first unit to test a new, more challenging, set of standards from the Infantry School at Fort Benning. Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Celestine, the head NCO of the Infantry School, called our training site one of the most professional sites he’d seen in his time at the post, and the Rakkasan model was subsequently used by our fellow BCTs in Bastogne and Strike for their own EIB testing. On Sept. 10, we began the week-long process of testing the candidates, with 434 Soldiers that met already demanding prequalification standards stepping off on the EIB Physical Fitness Assessment on Monday. By the end of the week, 83 Soldiers remained to earn their EIB, leading the way for the Infantry and helping Fort Benning set the standard.


Several Rakkasans traveled to Canada as part of the 101st Airborne Division Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Competition team, an international event that tested Soldiers’ proficiency on a variety of military weapons. Our Soldiers stood alongside our Allies, in a series of physically and technically challenging events that amply demonstrated Rakkasan capabilities to our partners. Sgt. Daryus Jenkins from 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment ‘White Currahee’ represented the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at the Army Best Medic competition in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, finishing in 8th place among 28 teams of the Army’s most talented combat medics.


Those of us back at Fort Campbell continued to prepare for our Brigade-wide Field Training Exercise in December with mounted live-fire exercises from all of our maneuver battalions, and a Battery Artillery Readiness Test (BART) for the 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery ‘Red Knight Rakkasans’.


One of the most exciting focus areas of the past year has been our ongoing innovation efforts and partnerships with like-minded organizations. Our activities in this space have set the standard across the Army for challenging paradigms and moving development of new ideas and capabilities forward that will make us more agile and lethal in future conflicts. Our engineers with 21st Engineer Battalion ‘Rak Solid Rakkasans’ reached out to Vanderbilt University in order to learn about civilian practices for reproduction of commonly found items, with the end goal of enhancing readiness and capability in both garrison and on the battlefield. We also hosted or traveled to innovation forums and training events that placed Rakkasans at the forefront of meaningful dialogue related to solving the complex challenges of the modern battlefield. The innovation culture of the Rakkasan Brigade is rapidly becoming recognized across the Army as a model to involve every Soldier in bringing new concepts into reality.


White Currahee celebrated their rich heritage with a visit to their home town of Toccoa, Georgia, where they honored those Currahees that came before with a run up Currahee Mountain, 3 Miles Up, 3 Miles Down! Our leadership headed to Fort Polk, Louisiana in mid- October to take part in the Leadership Training Program at the Joint Readiness Training Center. For two weeks, the leaders of the Rakkasans worked to improve their staff planning processes to more effectively conduct operations against an agile, thinking enemy. Even while the leadership was gone, our units continued their training, preparing a Mortar Proficiency table that helped our ground units hone their indirect fire against our enemies. We sent more of our marksmen to Fort Bragg and Fort Benning for the Fort Benning International Sniper competition and the Fort Bragg CSM’s Small Arms competition where they once again demonstrated Rakkasan mastery of their individual weapons.


Brig. Gen. Cindy Jebb, the Dean of Academics at USMA, visited the Rakkasans in late October, taking time out of her schedule to speak with our recent West Point graduates to gain a better understanding of their transition from USMA to the Active Duty Army. Brig. Gen. Jebb also spoke to post-career course captains about opportunities to teach at West Point after command.


To close out the year, our Brigade will take part in a field training exercise (FTX), putting the months of preparation by our battalions to the test. Testing out an innovative mission command concept called the Mission Command Augmentation System (MCAS), we will conduct Air Assault missions and related support operations in three different areas simultaneously: Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center. This FTX will challenge every facet of the Rakkasan’s warfighting capabilities in preparation for our JRTC rotation in March, and we are excited to watch our Soldiers continue to exceed expectations.


We look forward to the Holiday season, with Thanksgiving just around the corner and more training before we take a well-earned block leave to end the year. We’re ready to spend time with our families and enjoy the season, before preparing ourselves to head into Fort Polk early next year and prepare for our next Rendezvous with Destiny.


Let Valor Not Fail!


John P. Cogbill

COL, IN

Commanding

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