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Army Central Command staff get Revolutionary history lesson

Posted: October 5, 2017 5:07 p.m.
Updated: October 6, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Provided by Sgt. Matt Kuzara/U.S. Army

Staff Ride participants from U.S. Army Central Command learn about artillery used during the Revolutionary War during a tour that included Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site on Sept. 29. The staff learned how artillery, such as the 6-pounders shown here, were hard to come by for the Continental forces due to a lack of manufacturing ability.

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The strongest military in the world is engaged in suppressing an insurgency determined to kick out the invaders. The rag-tag insurgents have survived by hit and run tactics and wearing down the enemy. The year is not 2017; rather, it is 1780, and the hard-pressed American patriots are struggling against the mighty British.

Back in the present -- Sept. 29, to be exact -- a group of soldiers from U.S. Army Central (USARCENT) gather on what remains of the Battle of Camden as part of a USARCENT Staff Ride to learn how our military ancestors came to win the independence of the United States despite repeated hardships and losses.

The lessons began at the site of the British encampment where the participants learned about the British strategy for the southern theater of the war. From there, they continued on to several sites important to the battle.

“We went to Rugeley’s Mill where the American assembly area was, and then ended up at the site of the Battle of Camden,” Bryan Hilferty, of the Commander’s Initiatives Group, said. “The point of all of this for the headquarters is to look at the strategic and operational level of war.”

When the Staff Ride arrived at the battlefield site, the participants traced out how the battle unfolded by roleplaying as the two forces. They showed how the Continentals collapsed under the pressure of the well-trained British regulars, as they displayed how the battle unfolded.  

The chance to meet and learn about the other participants was one of the most important takeaways from the day, as well as the lessons learned by the Staff Ride. In fact, building camaraderie was a stated goal of the Staff Ride.

“In the building that we work in, everybody is compartmentalized, and I have only met about a third of the people in this group,” Lt. Col. Jared Wilson, Future Operations Planner, said, “and now I’m getting to know everyone else. So, now, when we go back to the cubicles, we can rely more on these new relationships to get things done.”

The importance of building these relationships seems self-evident, yet it proved to also be a lesson learned for the history of the Battle of Camden. Leaders, knowing almost nothing about each other or the mission, showed its effect in the American loss at Camden. For USARCENT, this is a lesson taken to heart by its commander. 

“I know that we’ve got some pretty talented people here today. I know that the folks that make this organization run are here today,” USARCENT Commander Lt. Gen. Michael Garrett said. “You know the hardest part about leading is that the higher you go, the harder it is to connect with the most important people in your formation, and I wanted to come here to connect with you.”

If the old saying is true, “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it,” then USARCENT’s Staff Ride shows how the organization and its people will not make the same mistakes.

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