What are you training for?

Recently I finished up an Operational Readiness Assessment for a team here in Texas and it was damn hot! I’m not talking just a wee bit hot, I mean we were on the edge of a heat injury hot.

On training day one, the team leader asked if they needed to jock up with their first and second line gear and I commented it was up to you guys. I knew it was going to be difficult to stay focused on the task at hand, but by the afternoon we secured the second line gear as we were on the verge of heat casualties for a few folks. At some point, you have to define exactly what you are trying to achieve. Were we trying to ensure that everyone was capable of operating in those extreme heat conditions or were we there to assess their skills. An argument could be made for both, but it’s like what I tell students when we are zeroing. You can zero your rifle from an unsupported position fully jocked up. That is how you would fight so it makes sense to train that way. The only problem is if I am evaluating how precisely you can zero your rifle I am not really concerned with whether you can zero your rifle in all your gear. That comes later, after you have demonstrated mastery of said zeroing skill, or your absolute ability to be precise.

So, how do you go about defining the objective of an evolution. I find that many folks go through the motions or try to load everything up to get it all done. You have to recognize there are progressions or layers to a skill. Once you have demonstrated mastery of the skill then it makes sense to progress to the next level. If you don’t have some way of measuring progression then you really never know if you should move up to the next level or remediate at the current one.

Some just want to move up to the next level because it is cool or they need the box checked and some don’t know any different. The point is without understanding your mission, your objective for training and how to measure progress you are really just there for the looks.

Back to the Operational Readiness Assessment, once we were done and the scores were complete we sat down and discussed the results with the team leadership. They understood their mission really well, had established plenty of TTP’s to support their mission. They had predefined their training objectives. With training time and supplies in short demand it was important they be focused on their mission. I really encourage any team to have a training plan set in advance. That training plan is devised based off the team’s mission, abilities and supporting equipment available. The assessment we did was the roadmap towards focusing their training efforts on what they needed to improve while at the same time maintaining what they were good at.

Once the dust settled, they saw what they were good at, which is important from a training validation purpose, but more importantly the learned what they needed work on and now they have a direction and purpose.