721st MI Battalion:
Going the Distance
soldiers of the 721st MI Battalion believe in sweating in
peacetime to reduce bleeding in war: they train as they
will fight to support warfighters
by Capt. J. R. Johnson
Army must continue to work toward a multi-echelon trained
force, especially within the intelligence battlefield
operation system. The training which military
intelligence soldiers receive must reinforce the concept
of readiness training and the tenets found within Battle
Focused Training, FM 25-101.
Based upon these tenets,
the 721st MI Battalion, 702nd MI Group, at Fort Gordon,
Ga., uses a variety of readiness training, local training
and military schooling to maximize the benefits to its
soldiers. Battalion leaders plan to leverage the best all
around tactical training opportunities for educating its
soldiers. These opportunities include duty with a field
unit, confidence building schools and local area training
executed with internal resources. The results have proved
so positive that training openings are filled with
The Armys REDTRAIN
program is directed at MI soldiers (captains and below)
at all echelons. It is outlined in AR 350-3 and designed
to be "the means by which senior intelligence
officers and commanders can ensure quality intelligence
during wartime. During times of peace, REDTRAIN
contributes funds for the training of intelligence units
and selected individuals."
The 721st MI Battalion uses
REDTRAIN program as part of its training plan. The
battalions soldiers support the mission of the
Gordon Regional SIGINT Operations Center by providing
intelligence support to unified commanders. Soldiers with
over 41 separate military occupational specialties
sustain and maintain the force in the field.
The battalion deploys
soldiers to global operations in support of warfighters
at all levels. In addition to the intelligence and
support missions at Fort Gordon, battalion soldiers have
supported operations in Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, Turkey,
Germany, Qatar, Korea and Guam.
Leaders and soldiers
believe in and support "sweating in peacetime to
reduce bleeding in war." Training initiatives
intersect the operational path and the tactical path,
producing well rounded, multi-echelon, trained MI
the National Training Center, soldiers execute
assignments within the opposing force (11th ACR). For MI
soldiers and officers alike, the 11th MI Company assigns
soldiers to work in their specialty in various
battlefield situations. Soldiers may find themselves as
the electronic warfare expert in an opposing force
tactical operations center, working directly for the task
force commander, or on a TRQ-32 intercept team. They may
find themselves going forward with the division
reconnaissance to set up a tactical listening post,
sending intelligence to the rear, or acting as a jamming
team during an attack. Officers command a TRQ-32 platoon,
as a member of a forward deployed division reconnaissance
team detailing the defenses of the enemy, or as an S2 to
the opposing force. Our soldiers have participated in all
of these activities.
Air Assault School
soldiers enlist to see the world and experience
"Army training," and the 702d MIGroups
721st MI Battalion provides its echelons above corps
soldiers the "adventure training" they desire.
Through vigilant and total
command support, 721st MI Battalion soldiers are
graduating from the Air Assault School.
The soldiers love the
opportunity to have some "HOOAH" training; the
positive influences are reflected in the
workplaceand in retention figures.
Further, it has enhanced
the units physical training program. Each morning,
the Air Assault candidates fall out to conduct physical
training oriented toward success at Air Assault School.
This tends to be more focused than standard physical
training with an emphasis on rope climbing and force
marches. The candidates love the training, as do those
soldiers who want more out of daily physical training.
Advanced Warfighting Experiment allows our unit to train
soldiers on tomorrows systems. The 721st
participated in Advanced Warfighting Experiment exercises
at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Bragg, N.C. During the Fort
Hood experiment, 98C soldiers experienced Land
Information Warfare Activity training. They coordinated
different airborne systems, imagery and ground operators
to collect and identify different radio signals. During
the Fort Bragg rotation, 98J analysts operated tactical
equipment in the field. In both cases, soldiers got the
hands-on training necessary to support the
721st MI Battalion has deployed numbers of soldiers into
combat areas or potential hot spots. Battalion leaders
ensure soldiers are ready for any possible contingency
and ready to assume a new mission with the gaining unit.
They stick to stringent training standards and adhere to
the training guidelines in AR 350-41, Training Units.
The battalion also operates
the Preliminary Primary Leadership Development Course.
There are fewer opportunities for junior soldiers to get
real troop leading experience, so battalion leaders
developed a local school to provide practical experience
in drill and ceremony, instruction and field operations.
The result of this preliminary course is a 100 percent
success rate at Preliminary Primary Leadership
Development Course and five Commandants List
graduates in the last 12 months.
On a complicated
battlefield, there is no way of ensuring a soldier who
operates miles behind the lines wont end up
fighting with the infantry. The soldiers of the 721st MI
Battalion must have the blood of the warfighter flowing
through their veins. Soldiers train regularly on weapons
ranges and all nuclear, biological and chemical tasks.
They perform common task training throughout the year
along with a standardized, timed, four-mile run.
Battalion soldiers complete road marches of various
lengths up to 12 miles (the battalion standard is three
hours), a triathlon, strenuous physical training and
The extensive effort to
maintain specific skills and train for future conflict
ensures the soldiers of the 721st MI Battalion are
prepared to go the distance...any time, any where.
Johnson is assigned as the battalion executive officer at
the 721st MI Battalion, 702d MI Group, U.S. Army
Intelligence and Security Command, at Fort Gordon, Ga.