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NEWS | Aug. 21, 2012

Tennessee Army National Guard Soldiers prepare for mission training Jordanian soldiers

By Army Sgt. Vanessa Josey 158th Infantry Brigade

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. - The 181st Field Artillery Battalion, a Tennessee National Guard unit, recently mobilized, trained and deployed to the country of Jordan, to provide infantry and border security trainer mentor assistance to the Jordanian Army.

Prior to heading overseas, members of the unit trained here with the 158th Infantry Brigade, 1st Army Division East.

"In one day, they switched from being trainees to being trainers," said Command Sgt. Major Russell Wright, the 181st FA Bn. senior enlisted adviser. "We had to do our mobilization training and get to that point. The training was built to switch the gears. Rehearsing to become the trainers is not an easy task."

During the training the Soldiers from the 181st FA Bn. learned ways in which to take on their role as trainers instructing Jordanian forces on the same skills.

"Once we train (Jordanian forces), then they can train themselves," Wright said, "It means there's one less U.S. battalion, more U.S. Soldiers home and more countries that are self-sufficient."

Army Lt. Col. Kevin Stewart, commander of the 181st FA Bn., said his Soldiers were excited about the mission, not just being to provide training to the Jordanian army, but for the expertise it will bring them personally.

"Our Soldiers will be better for it because it is so much harder to teach it than it is to do it," Stewart said. "We have about 200 people in this battalion task force. They're going to come back and our artillery battalion will be able to shoot, move, communicate, do force protection and resupply like we've never been able to do before."

And Soldiers within the unit are ready to meet the challenges ahead.

"The spirit of the 181st Soldiers is amazing," said Army Sgt. Tyrone Cosby, a field artillery launch and rocket fire direction specialist assigned to the battalion. "Since we are so diverse and have so many different leadership traits and characteristics in this unit I believe we won't have any problem dealing with anything thrown at us."

Part of that also comes from the training they've gone through before deploying.

"We've had the right training here at Shelby," said Cosby. "The training also built camaraderie and respect for others. It built a lot of confidence in one another. That's a big part of training and building a cohesive team."

As they complete their mission working with the Jordanian forces, the Soldiers from the battalion also plan on drawing from experiences outside of the military.

"We all have different specialties. We're all Guardsmen who have civilian job skills we can use to integrate and use in the training of the Jordanians," said Army Staff Sgt. Erick Gresham "That's what we bring to the mission. What we'll take away will be up to us."

For some in the unit, what they've taken away already is a desire to teach others.

"This is a training mission and a bonding mission for the U.S. and the Jordanians," said Spc. Kristin Miles. "I believe this could start a chain, and maybe we will be sent other places to train."

But for the Soldiers of the battalion, in the end it's about learning too.

"It's going to be challenging, and that's the one thing I love about the National Guard," said Miles. "I'm open-minded and willing to learn every day. I'm not just going over there just to teach but to learn as well. That's one big thing that my team and I want—to learn about them as well as having them learn about us."