Commander: Training is essential to success of 278th

Commander: Training is essential to success of 278th missions in Iraq

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"If they look at everything they do with the seriousness of life or death, then they will get the most out of it and they will keep their situational awareness up and stay motivated," Col. Jeffrey Holmes explained. "If they look at everything they do with the seriousness of life or death, then they will get the most out of it and they will keep their situational awareness up and stay motivated," Col. Jeffrey Holmes explained.
Col. Holmes believes the types of realistic training missions the 278th has done are crucial to the successful outcome of their mission in Iraq. Col. Holmes believes the types of realistic training missions the 278th has done are crucial to the successful outcome of their mission in Iraq.

By JAMIE LYNN DROHAN
6 News Reporter

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (WATE) -- In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, American flags lead the way down tree-lined checkpoints to Camp Shelby's nearly 135,000 acres. It's the last stop stateside for soldiers with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment before their deployment to Iraq.

From mock Iraqi villages to tank trails to firing ranges, the soldiers were stationed at Camp Shelby for several weeks, preparing for their mission in Iraq.

As overall commander of the regiment, Col. Jeffrey Holmes says the purpose of the time spent training is to expose the soldiers to every type of scenario they may encounter overseas.

"It's not a game. It's not a carnival ride. It's not a paint ball competition at your local town. It's serious stuff," Col. Holmes said.

"If they look at everything they do with the seriousness of life or death, then they will get the most out of it and they will keep their situational awareness up and stay motivated," he explained.

Col. Holmes believes the types of realistic training missions the 278th has done are crucial to the successful outcome of their mission in Iraq. 

It's also key to ensuring everyone returns home safely. "I really want our soldiers to know that they're going to be expected to make life or death decisions and I want them to be comfortable in that."

Col. Holmes noted that with the many restrictions on the rules of engagement, last minute decisions can be very difficult.

Regardless, he said the training the soldiers received at Camp Shelby has made them more confident and capable.

"I think they do know that they've got my confidence and all their leaderships' confidence to make the right decisions. I don't want them to hesitate. They can't hesitate."

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