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'TF Soldier' focuses on warrior readiness

(Editor's note: This article is the first of a  series that will examine the 16 focus areas outlined by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker.)

By Joe Burlas , Army News Service

       While inculcating the Warrior ethos into all Soldiers of both the active and reserve components is one of their top priorities, so is ensuring that all deploying members of the Army team are properly trained and equipped, according to members of a Fort Benning task force.

      TF Soldier, a subordinate organization of Fort Benning's Infantry Center, has been charged by the chief of staff of the Army to analyze Soldier training, equipment and readiness needs for fighting the global war on terrorism and coordinate with other Army organizations to implement programs and policies to meet those needs.

      "The Soldier" is one of the focus areas the Army will be directing its resources toward in a systematic and deliberate way in coming years," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker during October's Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting.

      The Warrior Ethos Statement contained within the new Soldier's Creed -- "I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade." -- is a key aspect of The Soldier focus area, said Brig. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, chief of Infantry and Fort Benning's commanding general.

      "This is about shifting the mindset of Soldiers from identifying what they do as a Soldier - 'I'm a cook, I'm an infantryman, I'm a postal clerk' -- toward 'I am a Warrior' when people ask what they do for a living," Freakley said.

      The Soldier's Creed helps Soldiers understand that, despite very diverse backgrounds, all Soldiers are warriors and members of a team, Freakley said. The creed is also about changing the Army culture, by encouraging it to examine its beliefs from a warrior's perspective and checking that the Army produces and retains Soldiers of value to the nation, he said.

      While Freakley said he had a hand in helping to develop the warrior ethos and Soldier's Creed, he credited the work of dozens of others, including a warrior ethos task force created by former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki that recommended valuable background information in developing the Soldier's Creed.

      "The Soldier's Creed training is being implemented throughout the Army, including recommissioning instruction, basic training and officer basic courses," said Lt. Col. Peri Anest, TF Soldier operations officer. Schoomaker includes instruction on the Soldier's Creed when he talks to each pre-command course for officers preparing to take battalion, brigade or higher commands, Anest said.

      TF Soldier is helping to ensure that needed clothing and equipment for deploying Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians are issued in a timely manner. Those items include things like moisture wicking undergarments that help prevent chafing in a desert environment, wraparound sunglasses and hydration systems.

"In the past, Soldiers would have to go off post and buy things like this off the shelf from a commercial vender," Anest said. "Under the Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI), we are working with PEO (Program Executive Officer) Soldier to identify clothing and equipment not normally in the Army system and get it into the system. Ideally, these items will become part of a Soldier's basic issue that he carries with him from post to post during his career  - similar to what the Special Forces Soldiers do today with much of their gear -- but that will be an issue for the Army Clothing Board to decide."

      While much of the new equipment is getting to deploying active, Reserve and National Guard units prior to their departure from home station, some of it may be issued weeks or even months after those units arrive in theater.

      "I have to warn you about raising false expectations," said Brad Tesch, a TF Soldier operations specialist. "We have a variety of venders with different production lines producing at varying speeds. That means we are playing catch up with some of the items."

      "Until enough of the RFI equipment is produced to field it to all Soldiers in the Army, TF Soldier and PEO Soldier are working with (Headquarters, Department of the Army) G-3 to prioritize which units get the equipment first and when," Anest said.

      "Other TF Soldier efforts include identifying 40 individual and 10 collective warrior tasks in which all Soldiers will remain proficient. Those tasks include react to a grenade attack, evacuate a wounded or injured Soldier, avoid an ambush and conduct a convoy operation. (Training and Doctrine Command) is currently working to ensure the tasks are included in enlisted and officer initial entry training courses," Anest said.

      For more information on TF Soldier, visit http://www.infantry.army.mil/taskforcesoldier.

 (Editor's note: While this article focused on The Soldier, other focus areas include: The Bench; Combat Training Centers/Battle Command Training Program; Leader Development and Education; Army Aviation; Current to Future Force; The Network; Modularity; Active Component/Reserve Component Balance; Force Stabilization; Actionable Intelligence; Installations as Flagships; Authorities, Responsibilities, and Accountability; Resource Processes; and Strategic Communications.)

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