Individual wellness is an important contribution that mission success can hinge on. Knowing the readiness status of our troops in all aspects of their health prior to deployment can greatly improve chances of mission success.
Approximately 61 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division participated in the Monitoring and Assessing Soldier Tactical Readiness and Effectiveness (MASTR-E) Assessment on June 20, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The MASTR-E is a study aimed at finding what factors contribute to group performance and can help Army units fight and win in a complex environment.
It uses noninvasive sensors to unpack, quantify and measure individual and group performance metrics associated with performance outcomes during training exercises and deployments.
Participating in the study, 2nd Lt. Dillon Heard, a platoon leader assigned to A Co. 2-505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, spoke about the impact it could have on paratroopers.
“I think this assessment has been a very good way to gather a lot of data that can be later turned into import insights on Soldiers,” said Heard. “Understanding that the scientists are trying to develop Soldiers by using sensors which helps them know what to study about us will in turn help us have better readiness and capabilities.”
Heard spoke about a particular benefit and greater knowledge he gained during the assessment.
“I learned more about the benefit of keeping a consistent sleep cycle during this assessment,” said Heard. “The more consistent our sleep cycle, the better chances we will be able to operate at peak performance levels when it matters the most.”
Agreeing with Heard, 1st Lt. Shaina Coss, a rifle platoon leader assigned to A Co. 2-505th PIR 3 BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. , said it did more than gather data, but also gave her paratroopers a chance to conduct training.
“This was a great training experience, not only tactically for my Soldiers, but it was the first time a lot of them got to see and perform a raid and conduct patrol-based activities,” said Coss. “We conducted ambushes, raids and patrol base activity every night.”
Knowing that battles are not won with training alone, Coss said you need to know yourself and you need to know your enemy; the better you can calculate your own energy levels, activity and attentiveness, the better it assists in an environment that requires a paratrooper to fight and win in a hectic situation when called upon.
“(You see) strain and fatigue on the paratroopers due to the heat and lack of food to consume, while being attacked on the patrol base at night and conducting raids,” said Coss. “It was physically strenuous.”
“It was like a “mini” ranger school,” Coss added.
The study lead, Dr. Erika Hussey, a cognitive scientist at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, said the MASTR-E is an assessment created to predict Soldier performance and provide quantifiable data to improve their performance.
“I think the assessment is important because typically when we think about a Soldier’s performance we think about it in a boxed way,” said Hussey. “Performance is very individualized, people start with different strengths, training needs and perform differently for different reasons.
While the Army currently uses the Performance Triad to get after a Soldier’s physical and mental health, the MASTR-E is complimentary because it looks for ways to improve and measure cognitive, social-emotional, physical ability and health statuses.
“I think the MASTR-E is a complimentary program,” said Hussey. “I think it’s something that can be added to quite a few models that is already traditional in the Army.”
“This assessment helps to leverage the training in a way to take into account those pieces,” Hussey added.
Where this really matters is deployments. Hussey said the assessment helps paratroopers in areas of training where the cognitive aspect is tested showing differences and stresses individuals may face in certain roles and deployment settings.
“In any way you can help training, you’re helping for deployments,” said Hussey. “Soldiers train for the fight and to win and we as scientist train to help them be better for that.”