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Headquarters, 278th Regimental Combat Team
1001 Lee Avenue, Building 2302
Camp Shelby, MS 39407-5500

278 - RCO 04 Sept 2004


SUBJECT: Commanders News from Mobilization Station Shelby, MS

1. As a family member of a 278th RCT I wanted to take a few minutes and let you know that your support to the troopers of the Regiment is critical to the welfare of the troops and the success of our mission. The 278th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) is continuing to train and prepare for our mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III (OIF III) at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. We have units from Texas, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey and Tennessee that have merged and bonded to form an Outstanding Team. Organizational changes within the Regiment and the addition of units outside of Tennessee are why we are called a RCT and not an Armored Cavalry Regiment. In preparation for our mission your loved ones participated in tough, realistic training and received new equipment to make them the best prepared and equipped for any mission. In addition to juggling the training requirements each commander is aware of the needs of soldiers to have time off to visit with loved ones and make every effort to give soldiers this needed time off.

2. We are training harder than we have ever trained before to be prepared to support OIF III. As you know, our training hours have been long and as difficult and realistic as the Army can provide at Camp Shelby. We have completed a wide range of individual and collective training. Each soldier must qualify on their individual weapon and soldiers assigned a crew served weapon (machine gun, grenade launcher) qualified on that weapon as well. In addition, every soldier completed common task training including First Aid, NBC, and Land Navigation (both by foot and in vehicles); and attended Arabic cultural awareness training to be better informed on customs and traditions in that part of the world. Once we finished individual training we began collective training and participated in training mission specific skills. We learned how to search a building and town, how to respond to crowds and establish checkpoints. Our soldiers tested these skills against Arab-Americans (who volunteered to help train our soldiers in dealing with foreign cultures) in the training base established in the woods of Mississippi – Forward Operating Base (FOB) Hurricane. Soldiers of the Regiment will be well prepared to do any job assigned to us while we are deployed.

3. Soldiers of the RCT are receiving the same equipment as the active duty gets when they deploy. We have the new M4 carbine with optics, new desert camouflage uniforms and boots, new Wiley-X ballistic protected sunglasses, new body armor and light-weight Kevlar helmet, and the new light-weight sleeping bags – just to name a few of the individual items. We are also getting new trucks – called LMTV’s (that replace the old 2 and ˝ ton), improved radios, and new logistic computers to name a few items. Soldiers of the Regiment will have the right equipment to complete any job assigned to us while we are deployed.

4. Camp Shelby is a hot and humid environment. When we arrived we moved into barracks that remind us of the barracks and mess hall facilities at Fort Stewart, GA. We had shelter over our heads but the barracks were not air-conditioned (since it was geared as an Annual Training Base and not a mobilization station at that time). Once we were on the ground, Camp Shelby began installing air-conditioners in our barracks but in true Cavalry Style our troopers adapted and installed window air-conditioners and fans while waiting for the installation to be completed. We even had a donation of air-conditioners from a Tennessee community/company to help us out – those units are going with us overseas when we leave Camp Shelby!

5. Completing all the required training within our scheduled amount of time means that each Squadron/Battalion and separate Regimental Troop/Company are on a different schedule of training (called battle rhythm) while at Camp Shelby. Not every unit attends the same training at the same time, goes to the field at the same time, or even has time off at the same time. Some parts of our required training had to be changed several times (due to scheduling and resource issues) and each change rippled down and affected each unit. This made it confusing for us to track and plan time off for but was very confusing as well for each of you at home when you wanted to know when it was okay to come down for a visit. This is not like our Annual Training’s in the past when we knew exactly what training we needed to do, went to the field at the same time and had the same days off. Now, with all the required training that must be done, time off is a very precious commodity and each commander manages a training schedule and provides their soldiers as much advance notice of time off as possible. I have asked and been granted a block leave time for the 278th RCT from the First Army Commander LTG Russell Honore. The leave time will be 29 OCT to 9 NOV 04 for the 278th RCT Main Body. Some soldiers will be on a slightly different schedule due to operation requirements both here and going to Iraq. All troopers will be allowed to travel to their home to see their families and have a chance to vote in their local elections. We also are planning an 11 NOV departure ceremony here at Camp Shelby, MS that all families and friends of the Regiment are invited to. The FSG plays a key role in putting out information to all family members so that the soldier’s family can have as much advance notice as possible to plan trips to come down and visit loved ones.

6. Pass the word to everyone back home that I am proud of our Family Readiness Groups for all that you have done. I am and I know you are very proud of your family member’s service to our country and to our Regiment. Also, let everyone know that I understand the sacrifice each family member is making to support our troopers of the 278th RCT and you have my appreciation for your support. God Bless the 278th RCT.