UMTs train on supporting tactical agility in the field

| January 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
Chaplain Maya Dietz from 3-7th FA leads the division chaplains and chaplain assistants in prayer before UMT field training. (Photo by 1st Lt. James Dyer)

Chaplain Maya Dietz from 3-7th FA leads the division chaplains and chaplain assistants in prayer before UMT field training. (Photo by 1st Lt. James Dyer)

Story and photos by
1st Lt. James Dyer
25th Division Artillery
25th Infantry Division

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — 25th Infantry Division chaplains and chaplain assistants went to the field just before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The teams wanted to improve their ability to provide services and grief counseling in the field, thus supporting the tactical agility of 25th ID units.

The field exercise, led by the 25th Division Artillery, or DIVARTY, allowed the unit ministry teams, or UMTs, to learn about and share their ideas and best practices, while also training on important Soldier skills, such as land navigation and field concealment.

The UMTs met at South Range and moved to their occupation site utilizing Defense Advanced GPS Receiver (DAGRs). Once they reached their training site, they completed two training classes after a short devotion.

Unit ministry teams perform land navigation using DAGRs while moving to their training site on East Range. (Photo by 1st Lt James Dyer)

Unit ministry teams perform land navigation using DAGRs while moving to their training site on East Range. (Photo by 1st Lt James Dyer)

The classes focused on how to conduct religious services and provide grief counseling in remote or dangerous environments. The UMTs went through both classes as teams of chaplain and chaplain assistant in order to strengthen their effectiveness as a team in stressful and complex environments.

The field service class was taught by Chaplain (Maj.) Brandon Moore, brigade chaplain, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, who recently came to the 25th from teaching homiletics at the school house. His focus was on getting mobile and creating sacred spaces and messages for Soldiers in the field.

Moore also demonstrated ways to use technology for services and showed how new gadgets are small enough to allow a surprising amount of gear to fit into an assault bag. He pulled out a portable speaker and a wireless microphone that fit into his ear. Combined with his smartphone, he was able to have music and sermon notes right there in the palm of his hand.

Another chaplain mentioned they could pick up solar charging panels from the post exchange for $25 to charge everything from phones to batteries in the field.

Moore showed how a phone to high definition multimedia interface (HDMI) cable can bypass sensitive computers and allow for a projected service onto a screen big enough for everyone in the tactical operations center to see. Smartphones can have PowerPoint and videos that allow Soldiers to both see and hear what the chaplain is putting out.

“The dramatic improvements in technology have really allowed UMTs to offer professional services, even in the most remote locations, without the burden of having to carry a huge amount of gear. Gone are the days of having to lug around heavy and temperamental field organs, or hope that Soldiers are up for singing a cappella,” explained Chaplain (Capt.) Maya Dietz, battalion chaplain, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 25th DIVARTY.

“The technology also helps us create sacred space that can offer Soldiers relief and moments of communion with their higher power, even if in intense battle situations. There is nothing wrong with simple, non-technology services, but it is nice to have more options,” Dietz said.

The grief counseling class was taught by Dietz and centered on training UMT members on the grief process. The class discussed how to identify signs of grief, focusing on emotional, behavioral and physical signs and how to spot them. It discussed how to tell when people are getting back to normal and how not everyone grieves the same.

Other topics revolved around how there are times in the military when you have to survive where you are placed. These times may not be what you were trained for or may want to do, but it’s what is required of you.

Through scenario-based discussions, the UMTs shared stories of how they have helped Soldiers through, or have experienced themselves, different kinds of grief. People can face hardships that grow over time if left unchecked. UMT members can help by giving them hope and a sense of their value to the team.

Sgt. Cody Brown from Operations, 25th Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, said, “This training doesn’t get done enough. I’ve been in since 2006, and while I was at Fort Hood, they had the shooting at the processing center. This kind of grief counseling really allows us to have the ability to provide grief counseling in all aspects of Soldiering.”

The division chaplains get together monthly to perfect their craft. All the skills they train on will be tested during the best UMT competition in May.

Then, they will compete as UMTs in events that will test Soldier skills that are familiar to them all, like land navigation and completing a 9-line quickly and correctly. They will also be expected to perform in graded events like doing a field service or grief counseling.

A chaplain or chaplain assistant has to be able to perform well in two worlds. On any given day, they have to be both a warrior and a spiritual guide.

(Editor’s note: Dyer is the unit public affairs representative for Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 25th DIVARTY.)

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