FORT CARSON, Colo. (USASOC News Service, Aug. 6, 2010) – "This is the one opportunity you have in your career to shape something in your own image," said Maj. Guillaume Beaurpere, 4th Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) activation commander. "To take ownership of something from the ground and build up from there."
That is the message that Major Beaurpere and Command Sergeant Major Pauka convey to the newest Soldiers of the unit as they prepare for the historical activation of the battalion. On Aug. 19, the 4th Battalion will be activated having achieved a milestone of 70 percent manning strength, over 300 Soldiers, come activation day.
"We emphasized the criticality of achieving 70 percent strength on activation date early on in the process," Beaurpere explained. "That was achieved first because Col. Sean Swindell, the 10th SFG (A) commander, put command emphasis on this task." And secondly, because of the hard work the sergeants major and human resource specialists did."
With the benefit of lessons learned from both 3rd SFG (A) and 5th SFG (A), whom were the first of the five SF Groups to activate their 4th battalions, 10th SFG (A) had a distinct advantage in developing their lines of effort leading to activation of a new battalion: manning, equipping, facilities and infrastructure and training.
Along the manning line of effort, the battalion decided to build a core staff while filling the three line company headquarters simultaneously rather than standing up each company sequentially. This allowed each company to be on par come activation day and have systems and procedures in place across the battalion. One other key element of consideration was situating seasoned Green Berets throughout the sections, companies and teams.
urban movement training
"We took the very deliberate approach to manning sections, ODAs, and ODBs, with a carefully scrutinized mix of experienced non-commissioned officers and Green Berets right out of the SF Q-course," Beaurpere explained.
The second activation line of effort was the fielding of equipment. Similar to the other Groups, 10th SFG (A) relied on a USASFC(A) contract at Baker's Court in Kentucky, used to facilitate the staging of equipment for activating battalions until units are ready to receive and store items over the course of the activation period.
Having that initial staging area allowed the battalion to establish facilities such as an arms' room and motor pool to receive the weapons and vehicles sequentially throughout the year.
"It was a synchronized equipping effort which allowed us to establish the facilities first, and then subsequently launch the equipment forward," Beaurpere said. "We did that throughout the year, and it bought us a lot of time to make sure the facilities were prepared and secured, to properly store and account for the equipment." There was a shortfall in some SOF peculiar systems; however, with assistance at the Group level, other battalions laterally transferred equipment to ensure an equitable distribution of special equipment across the unit.
Beaurpere credits his supply sergeant and property book managers with building accountability and property books from scratch. Also to note, as new company commanders are now conducting their change-of-command inventories, there has yet to be a single-loss in equipment or property accountability identified.
Currently, the 4th Battalion and its companies are located in pre-existing facilities on the Group compound area. However, those areas required renovation to accommodate the companies and ODAs to train and operate within. This included team room renovation and wiring for network improvement for computers and phones at all levels.
exiting the helicopter
"We had some clear guidance from Col. Swindell as we occupied these facilities," Beaurpere said. "Regardless of how long we stay here, he wanted us to make sure that we left the facilities in working order for whoever came in behind us, so we took that to heart."
In the future, a battalion operations facility (BOF) will be built, so the unit can be co-located. After reviewing the blue prints with the contractor and making recommendations to enhance the facility, the battalion is pleased with the product.
"We have a good plan out there, and now we are simply waiting for the facility to be built," Beaurpere added.
The final effort in the activation process was the training of Soldiers within the battalion. Already, the unit conducted a cold weather mountain warfare training exercise last winter and currently has a company conducting Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat training.
Initially, training was focused on individual and institutional skills. These include critical Soldier tasks such as zeroing weapons and physical fitness training and conditioning. It also includes achieving USASFC (A) 350-1 training requirements that each SF ODA must accomplish to be operational.
"As we progress, the key piece that we always keep in the back of our mind is the validation of the battalion for operational employment," Beaurpere explained. "Our intent is to go through validation throughout the next several months, culminating in a large exercise in late winter/early spring in 2011. Following that exercise, we would then be postured to execute whatever mission the Group Commander wants us to execute."
Beaurpere did emphasize that it was a Group effort to facilitate activation of the battalion, from the company supply sergeants to the Group Staff and the application of recommendations and lessons learned from the other SF Groups.
"It's been a coordinated team effort, not only for the guys at the battalion, but also the Group staff," he said. "It's not something you do in isolation; we had the benefit of other Groups doing this. A lot of Soldiers worked very hard and were instrumental in the activation of this battalion."