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1st Theater Sustainment Command

News Stories

First Team Defines Mission Success in the Classroom

By Brent Thacker | 1st Theater Sustainment Command | November 01, 2018


“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

The Army is a plethora of acronyms and jargon that can prove difficult to even the most seasoned Soldier. Knowing the proper lingo can alleviate a potential language barrier when describing important Army movements or operations.

Lt. Col. Barry Murray, deputy chief of the Strategic Operations and Plans (SOaP) for the 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) Blue Team, traveled from Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, where he’s currently deployed to the 1st TSC headquarters, to conduct a theater academic seminar for 40 Soldiers who will deploy later this month to assume the SOaP mission.

To prepare them, Murray taught the Soldiers everything he and the current SOaP team learned in theater. The course objectives developed over a course of 90 days using after action reports (AAR) as a barometer of success.

“We made this task purely academic,” Murray said. “It’s so academic, it involves quizzes, exams and a lot of lectures. We focus on making this team coming in able to hit the ground running instead of experiencing such a steep learning curve.”

One aspect of the seminar consists of an acronym list. Murray and his team wrote, described, and discussed new words daily onto a board, allowing for quicker dialogue once the Soldiers are in theater.

The class learned about the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), U.S. Army Central (ARCENT), 1st TSC, the SOaP team and finally plans and operations’ hierarchies. By learning about their mission from the top down, they gained an understanding of the jobs they will do. Murray said he wanted his students to understand the logical flow of how the commands work, from the big picture, to the Soldier sitting next to them in theater.

Murray said the Soldiers are enjoying the classroom discussion and the interaction between student and teacher.

“The class is very responsive,” Murray said. “They like the quizzes, the tests, the acronym list, the raising of their hand, and being a student again. You’re learning, and you’re learning what you need to know to be effective mission ready.”

Murray reflected on the words of Maj. Gen. Flem B. “Donnie” Walker, Jr., the commanding general of the 1st TSC by saying, “There is always seams and gaps in transition.”

Murray wants to make this transition as seamless as possible. He wants them to get all the general knowledge out of the way, speaking the lingo upon arrival to theater.

Murray went on to talk the difference of the processes of learning instead of using MDMP or Military Decision Making Process. This seven-step process allows Army leaders a guidance for operations and actions.

“Playing MDMP doesn’t help this team, Murray said. “Knowing the environment and their surroundings, the policies and procedures the incoming SOaP team will abide by, that’s what they need to know. When have you done MDMP by the book downrange? The only time I’ve seen it used doctrinally is in a school house.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Arrambidez, intelligence officer for the SOaP Blue Team, spoke about the importance of the academic seminar.

“We want to be one hundred percent better than previous teams,” Arrambidez said. “It’s important to know where we came from and that we continue to exercise the commanders’ intent with each SOaP team deployment.”

Murray delighted in knowing this team heading to the Middle East is ready for the challenges ahead.

“Chief and I are jealous that we didn’t have a task like this,” Murray said. “These guys are smarter and more prepared than we were when went in. Just knowing that is satisfaction in itself.”

Since 2006, the 1st TSC has been perpetually deployed to the 20-country, six-million-square mile region where it conducts sustainment operations ensuring warfighters have the supplies and transportation capabilities they need to accomplish their missions.

Every six months, the command deploys a team of Soldiers to the region, which it designates the Red, White, or Blue team. This team, the Red Team, will replace the Blue Team, scheduled to redeploy in Dec. The White Team will begin training to replace the Red Team in the coming months.