Seven companies from the Wisconsin Army National Guard's most diverse battalion came together at Volk Field in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, for a rare weekend of combined training Oct. 17-19.
On the surface, the 641st Troop Command Battalion is made up of individual units with seemingly little connection. The battalion includes units like the 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, the 135th Medical Company, the 273rd Engineer Company, the 132nd Army Band, the 457th Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Company, the 1967th Contingency Contracting Team and its battalion headquarters company.
Each unit within the battalion performs a vastly different mission with Soldiers that hold different jobs. As a result, each company has historically focused on its own specialized training, while the larger battalion has rarely gotten together as a full group. Lt. Col. Scott Southworth, the 641st's battalion commander, wanted to dispel the notion that the battalion's units have nothing in common, and his goal to foster unit cohesion and espirit de corps among its diverse assets began with the combined training weekend at Volk Field.
The battalion completed its annual Soldier readiness processing requirements, which ensures each Soldier is fit for duty, while also completing many of the annual mandatory training requirements that often consume large amounts of time training time throughout the year. But more than that, the battalion used the opportunity to build cohesiveness between all of the units.
Besides the readiness program, the Soldiers of the 641st also enjoyed a pig roast, a bonfire, a battalion run and completed a leader's reaction course. The battalion also presented the Legion of Merit to its previous command sergeant major - recently retired Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Burgette.
Each unit presented skits that described what they do for the 641st. The skits included a mock news conference, a country band performance, reaction under fire, Wisconsin National Guard history, an explanation of Army contracting and a chemical decontamination demonstration.
Sgt. Robert Bell with the 132nd Army Band expressed how much fun it was for him and his unit to not only show off their skills with their country music performance, but it was also interesting meeting new people and finding out about what other units were a part of the 641st, he said.
Sgt. Mindy Singh, of the 457th Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Company, enjoyed meeting fellow Soldiers from her battalion and traversing the leader's reaction course with Soldiers from different units.
"I thought it was very good for morale," she said. "I loved this drill."
Southworth wanted to focus on what unifies the diverse battalion, while celebrating the unique skill sets each company within it brings to the table for the Wisconsin National Guard and ultimately the U.S. military.
"This training event defined the 641st as a unified team of Soldiers with God-given talent and specialized skills, who proved that they stand ready to accomplish any mission, any place, at any time," Southworth said.