FORT HOOD, Texas — This week began a new legacy for the 1st Cavalry Division, as Operation Pegasus Strength kicked off with Troopers assigned to the 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment, “Black Knights”. Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater, commander of the 1st Cav. Div., announced the initiation of Operation Pegasus Strength 14 Sept. during the Division’s 99th birthday celebration on Cooper Field.
Operation Pegasus Strength is an operation aimed at eradicating corrosives from our Army while simultaneously building cohesive teams. Suicide, sexual assault, sexual harassment and extremism have no place within the Army.
“What this is about is building truly cohesive teams and giving the time and resources needed to really get to know each other,” said Broadwater. “We’ve been busy. We’ve been all over the world. Some are just getting back from Europe, some are just getting here, and we’re trying to form these cohesive teams each and every day. We really, really need to focus on our formations.”
Each week a different battalion will participate in the round-robin style Operation Pegasus Strength, while also ensuring continued leader engagement throughout the year.
During Operation Pegasus Strength, the days start with physical readiness training competitions followed by a brief given by 1st Cav. Div. leadership, and then moves into small group training activities.
“This week is about us,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Kenny, the senior enlisted leader for the 1st Cav. Div., during his brief to the Troopers of 1-5 CAV. “Take the time to think about each other and make each other better. Take some time to reflect. Ask the questions, get to know each other a little better and find out what motivates you and your families. That’s the power of the First Team.”
Throughout Operation Pegasus Strength, Troopers are assigned to 10-person squads and engage in Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention training, Inclusivity training, Value of Life training and a psychological exercise with certified behavioral health specialists.
The SHARP 360 Training Center is one stop required during Operation Pegasus Strength. It is an interactive training facility which is used for engagement training and is hands-on, scenario based. It provides different potential situations in which Troopers may find themselves such a bar, the field, a barracks room or the gym, and provides vignettes for Troopers to work through together.
“I enjoyed the training because it was hands-on and away from power points,” said Sgt. Alfonso Santiago, squad leader, A Co., 1-5 CAV. “This training is important, especially at the squad size level, it allows us to identify any issues that may come within our squad and helps us know how to ask the right questions.”
Inclusivity training encompasses scenario-based, equal opportunity vignettes in which Troopers are provided mentorship concerning inclusivity amongst their teams, and given tools and resources that can be used to further their understanding of the Equal Opportunity program in which the 1st Cav. Div. and the Army fosters.
During the Psychological exercise portion, Troopers sit down with their squad and a behavioral health specialist and have group discussions regarding stressors and how to identify and react to them. Knowing and understanding stressors helps build mentally strong and resilient Troopers.
“The psychological exercise class kind of taught us a lot about understanding your Soldiers and asking the right questions, and knowing the difference between punishment and reward,” said Spc. Jonathan Comerford, a Bradley gunner assigned to 1-5 CAV. “It’s about knowing what works best for your soldiers. This training is important because its builds that unit cohesion and gets everyone motivated together.”
The Unit Ministry Teams host the Value of Life small group training portion of Operation Pegasus Strength, which focuses on the spiritual well-being of the Troopers and. The purpose of this portion concerns resiliency in order to grow and strengthen the bonds between Troopers and their Families.
“We have to take the time to put this on the schedule, to deliberately train with Troopers, leaders and Families in order to build inclusive and cohesive teams,” said Lt. Col. Neil Armstrong, commander of 1-5 CAV. “We are a team. We all have a purpose here, not only in the 1st Cav. Div., but within the Army. We are a family and we take care of each other, and it’s okay to communicate when we’re having stressors in our lives. We want our Soldiers to trust us with stressors and issues so that we can resolve those issues and continue to build this great team of ours.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Allen, senior enlisted leader for 1-5 CAV, has created his own internal initiative, titled “Own the Knights”, in which Troopers from the battalion will break into small groups monthly and continue the conversations and discussions had during Operation Pegasus Strength, in order to continue the momentum in building inclusive and cohesive teams.
Operation Pegasus Strength allows leaders to take a break from the rigorous training cycles and sets aside deliberate time to engage with and get to know the Troopers in their formations. The end of the week culminates with a team event such as a barbeque or sports day type of competition.
“I trust each and every one of you,” said Broadwater. “I hope that if your junior leader doesn’t get after a problem for you that you take that to your platoon sergeant, or your platoon leader, or the company commander and the first sergeant. I guarantee you that they will get after it because the only way that we can build a team that dominates is for us to trust each other and understand one another. That’s what it’s all about, building cohesive teams and really getting to know one another.”
Operation Pegasus Strength Two is already on the training calendar for next year.