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A CUT ABOVE 

Butchery Course Offers Food Service Specialists Opportunity to Enhance Skills for Supporting Green Berets

By Major Aram Donigian

10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Public Affairs Officer

 Most people know that Special Forces Soldiers with Fort Carson’s 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) must be prepared to conduct operations quickly and safely, often in harsh, austere environments to successfully accomplish a multitude of unconventional missions in support of U.S. military objectives.  What is often forgotten, however, is that support personnel must also be just as ready to provide appropriate and timely resources for those teams.  

Recently, food service specialists from 10th Group completed a unique training course designed specifically to help them provide better support to Green Berets operating in Africa and elsewhere around the world.   

 “In January, Warrant Officer Erik Iwai and I first discussed the need for our cooks operating with team guys to provide better services in places where there are no grocery stores and buying from meat trucks is not sanitary,” said Sergeant First Class Myron Billingsley, Senior Culinary Management Noncommissioned Officer for 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).  “We initiated contact with the Rocky Mountain Institute of Meat in April to research the possibility of creating a Special Forces butchery course.”

 Based in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Instituted of Meat (RMIM) was founded by Chef  Mark DeNittis and features a professional butchery program, providing graduates with both American Culinary Federation accreditation and Colorado professional state certification.  Jason Nauert, RMIM director, served as the lead instructor for this training.

 “I was very excited to be contacted by 10th Group and worked to customize the six day course for what these Soldiers will need in the field,” said Nauert.  “I tried to take our professional course and combine it with my hunting background to form a course that would enhance what these guys do in accomplishing their Army mission.”

Soldiers received hands-on practice in harvesting, field dressing, and processing a cow, hogs, goats, lambs, and chickens.  The processing portion included not only separating primal and sub-primal cuts from edible cuts, but also sausage making, curing meats, and storage.

 The comprehensive course incorporated safety and sanitation training such as identifying sick animals by examining their liver and stomach, as well as critical control points involving the impact of temperature and time on processing.  Soldiers were also introduced to concepts regarding animal acquisition.

 “It was exciting to see Soldiers do something to not only enhance their Army mission but to also expand their horizons and do something they have never done before,” said Billingsley.  “Many grew up in the inner city and have never seen much less get their hands-on in an experience like this.  It was great for them and something they will take away for the rest of their lives.”

Nauert enjoyed his first time working with Soldiers and appreciated how receptive they were to the training.

“I came in with the expectation that they might see the course as something as they were being made to do,” stated Nauert.  “I was surprised by how quickly they took to it, their excitement, and the eagerness to learn they showed.”

Pleased with their progress, Nauert added, “These Soldiers could work in the restaurant, supermarket, or wild game processing industries today!”

Sergeant Brandon Mayo, who grew up in Boston, Mass. and has been with 10th Group for two years, understood both the immediate value in the training.

 “Especially in Group, this is incredibly beneficial to know as we continue to rotate in and out of Africa, providing support to teams in austere locations,” said Mayo.  “We need to understand the quickness and urgency related to the entire process before the meat spoils.”

 “This was a full spectrum training event and is a great skill for anyone interested,” echoed PFC Michael Hatton of Buffalo, N.Y., also with 10th Group for two years and who worked in restaurant services prior to joining the Army.  “There is a growing trend of ‘farm to table’ around the world.  This training compliments that trend and my own experiences when I was deployed to Africa.”

 The service members were quick to praise Nauert’s instruction and teaching methodology.

“I’ve attended other butchery courses in the past.  They were good but were primarily a power-point presentation followed by an instructor demonstration,” said Billingsley.

 “Jason not only explained what we needed to do but why it needs to be done,” said Hatton.  “He was great with hands-on teaching and was clearly a subject matter expert.”

 “He allowed us to do a lot but was quick to guide us when we needed help,” added Mayo.  “I would highly recommend this program to other food services personnel.”

 The training also served as an opportunity to issue field dressing kits to the Soldiers for their upcoming deployments.  These kits included skinning, gutting, and boning knives, a bone saw, and a knife sharpener.

While the intent is to make this a quarterly training event for 10th Group food service personnel, the hope is that other special operations forces may join in attendance.  

 “We designed this training to be realistic and as hard as possible so that no matter where our Soldiers go they will be ready for anything,” said Billingsley.

 One course graduate, already deployed to Africa, is putting his new found skills to use supporting 10th Group ODAs focused on maintaining a persistent presence in the region while enhancing the capabilities of partner nations’ security forces conducting counterterrorism and counter violent extremist organizations missions.

"It's been humbling and a honor working so closely with 10th A Special Forces Group"