Soldier Virtual Battle Assemblies
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Edgar Valdez
June 17, 2020
From unit battle assemblies to Family programs and Yellow Ribbon
events, units and leaders across the Army Reserve are finding new
ways of accomplishing their training and military requirements
through virtual means.
Many of the commercially available
teleworking tools are not authorized due to security risks. So, how
is the Army Reserve getting after this with the tools it has
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP)
team started looking at ways to conduct virtual events.
“Working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for
Reintegration Programs, we were able to utilize the EventPlus
Portal. This system allows the USAR YRRP to create online events
with classes similar to what is presented at face-to-face events,”
said Mr. Jeffrey F. Vaughan, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program
manager with Army Reserve Family Programs.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Army Reserve has authorized all units to perform Virtual Battle Assemblies (VBAs) for all Troop Program Unit (TPU) commands. VBAs have been put in place to ensure Soldiers have the maximum means to maintain individual Soldier readiness, build resiliency and provide financial stability and security to Soldiers and their families. In this illustrative image, Master Sgt. Michel Sauret poses to visually depict Soldier readiness in the virtual age during a time of social distancing. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret
- April 17, 2020)
Soldiers are registered, approved and can train almost
any weekend between now and June, he added.
Portal is hosted through the Department of Defense's Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program.
said Soldiers can register for an eight-hour block of instruction,
which can include mandatory and elective training. Once complete,
Soldiers receive a certificate that commanders can use to verify for
their records, he added.
The training was provided not only to support Soldiers
and Families in the mobilization cycle but also to provide training
during Soldier virtual battle assemblies (SVBA) for all U.S. Army
Reserve Troop Program Unit (TPU) commands.
looking at what annual AR 350-1 requirements we could get after
during the first month of virtual battle assemblies,” said Capt.
Timothy J. Kinmartin, a corrections/detention operations officer
with the 300th Military Police Brigade.
“Based on the analysis
of the annual requirements, we developed training on Law of War;
Threat Awareness and Reporting Program (TARP); Survival, Evasion,
Resistance and Escape (SERE); Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and
Prevention (SHARP); Code of Conduct; Fraternization; Equal
Opportunity training,” he added.
Kinmartin said the
Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) Environment really enabled the
ability for all their sections to collaborate and receive the
“I have been in contact with Army
Reserve Headquarters virtual training team to work through details
to complete some Army Warrior Tasks as a section. Based on their
capabilities, it appears we can complete a lot of these important
tasks,” said Kinmartin.
However, online training is not the
only way units can conduct virtual battle assemblies. Culinary Army
Reserve Soldiers baked USAR birthday-themed cakes during a weekend
in April as part of their SVBA.
“Our team was slated to have
a couple of Soldiers bake an Army Reserve birthday cake for a big
celebration that was scheduled for Fort McCoy, Wisconsin,” said
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Colby S. Beard, U.S. Army Reserve culinary
arts team manager.
“When the plan was derailed, I reached
out to the team and asked if they would still like to do a cake from
home,” he added.
Beard said they called it a “cake
challenge,” and Soldiers loved it.
As culinarians, they all
enjoy cooking and providing meals for the Soldiers in their
respective units, and this was a way to continue that along with
practicing a skill, he added.
“In fact, the team loved it so
much, we will be now doing a monthly culinary challenge,” said
Beard. “We will choose a classical dish or cuisine and include a
dessert. The recipe will be posted, and Soldiers will produce it,
take pictures and submit to be added to the USAR Culinary Arts Team
“We have conducted two SVBAs already,” said
Staff Sgt. Elizabeth A. Barlow, operations noncommissioned officer
for the 350th Public Affairs Detachment.
Barlow said the
unit is using Defense Information Systems Agency-approved Defense
Collaboration Services (DCS), which have a web-conference portal
accessed by a common access card (CAC) on nongovernment computers.
DCS also offers screen sharing, slide presentation and web cams.
The DCS portal can be accessed at
“Our training consisted of everything a regular battle assembly
would have,” said Barlow.
Among others, she said the unit
can perform mission-essential task training, administrative tasks,
noncommissioned officer huddles, professional development, and
complete training meetings with the unit commander.
said that during the unit’s May SVBA, it will be opening training to
the 318th Theater Public Affairs Support Element and the Mission
Command Support Group for the 88th Readiness Division, along with
some of its down-trace units.
As a result of
SVBAs have been put in place to ensure Soldiers have the maximum
means to maintain individual Soldier readiness, build resiliency and
provide stability and security to Soldiers and Families.
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