Story by MAJ Brandon Mace on 07/30/2019FORT DIX, N.J. Postal units from across the U.S. Army Reserve came here for Postal Warrior 19-1 from Jul 13 to Aug 2, 2019.
Postal Warrior 19 is a standalone 21 day, task-focused exercise, designed to train and challenge postal units in the skill sets and competencies needed to support Theater Postal Operations and increase individual and collective readiness. The exercise was planned and led by the 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), headquartered at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Col. Robert Penn, the assistant chief of staff for operations at the 4th ESC, said his team wanted to raise the readiness of the units across the Army Reserve footprint. The exercise included classroom training before the Soldiers moved to the field to practice their skills in a realistic environment.
"Our goal was to level set," said Penn, "to train all the Soldiers in these units so we have a bench of experts. Every Soldier needs to know what to do and they need to be familiar with each other's duties."
Penn has been deployed and knows how important something as small as mail can be for the Soldier morale. He said it raises spirits and reminds Soldiers that there are people back home that care.
"Getting packages from loved ones can make a big difference," said Penn. "Just knowing they have that link, that tangible link back home, whether they are sending mail or mail is coming to them, it boosts morale."
Spc. Brayden Riesen, with the 478th Human Resources Company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, is brand new to the world of postal operations. He began his Army career as a forward observer and never though he would transfer to a job where he would work with mail.
"This is very different training from combat arms convoys and calling for fire," said Riesen. "I'm learning a lot because I really didn't know this world existed or how involved it was."
Riesen and Penn agree about the importance of unit morale. He said sometimes it is the big things that make the difference and sometimes it is the little things, like mail.
"Morale is what keeps you motivated and working hard," said Riesen. "It's what gets you excited when you have to do something you don't want to do. Little things out here can boost that morale."
Riesen is enjoying this this training, and will use it as a primer for the school he will attend to reclass from a forward observer to a human resources specialist. He says he thinks about the deployed Soldiers who will benefit from his new skill set.
"If I was deployed, I'd want to get my mail," said Riesen, "now I get to be a part of that process."
Sgt. Letrice Reynolds, is a human resources specialist with the 350th Human Resources Company headquartered in Grand Prairie, Texas. Unlike Riesen, she has worked postal operations before.
"It's different downrange," said Reynolds, "but when we can get hands-on experience, like this, our Soldiers do so much better handling real situations."
Reynold's unit made sure that new Soldiers had an opportunity to work with Solders who have run postal operations in a deployed environment. She said it helped meet the exercise goal of level-setting and increased overall readiness as they learned from each other.
"It put everyone on the same page," said Reynolds. "This is how we worked our hands-on experience. I've been deployed, but I'm learning from my Soldiers. We all want to do it the right way."
All the feedback Penn has received from Soldiers like Riesen and Reynolds has been positive. He is happy with the results of the first iteration of Postal Warrior 19 and looks forward to great results from the second iteration which will run Aug. 10-30.
"Tooth to tail, watching from the planning to now with the exercise coming together, I see how these Soldiers have taken in information then made it happen," said Penn "Everyone has come together to create an exercise that will really improve readiness and expertise."
The 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) is made up of Soldiers, civilians and their families in units headquartered throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. As part of America's Army Reserve, these units are trained, combat-ready and equipped to provide military and logistical support in any corner of the globe.