News: MFO commander prepares next deploying NG unit
Story by Capt. Olivia Cobiskey
EDINBURGH, Ind. - Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind. – North Carolina National Guard soldiers preparing to deploy to the Sinai as Multinational Force Observers recently sat down with the commander of the current MFO task force for a look at what they could expect during their upcoming deployment.
Col. Robert D. Haycock, commander of Task Force Sinai, met with 630th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion Soldiers, N.C. National Guard, during the unit’s Combined Training Exercise at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind.
“When we look in the mirror each day, we must like what is looking back at us,” Haycock told the soldiers. “We must be able to say without reservation that we, each of us, always did what is right and in no way let down our nation, our soldiers or our families.”
Haycock visited the North Carolina National Guard unit. The 630th CSSB will replace Haycock’s unit. The 630th CSSB’s mission will be to help supervise the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace and ensures no one violates the terms as Multinational Force Observers with 12 contingent nations in the Sinai Peninsula.
First Army Division East trainer/mentors at Camp Atterbury Joint Force Training Center strive to ensure the training they provide for deploying Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers is realistic, relevant and prepares units for any eventuality. Bringing currently deployed members back to talk to their replacements is just one way First Army Division East ensures the units are trained and have a greater grasp of their upcoming missions.
Because of the remote location, the MFO mission requires units to be prepared for every eventuality, from postal operations to mortuary affairs. Training with real-life scenarios puts the mission in a context soldiers better understand, even if the training is outside their normal military duties, said Haycock. This includes check point operations and observation posts along the international boundaries, access to the Strait of Tiran, and periodic verification of the provisions of the treaty.
The 630th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion will be responsible for overall command and control of sustainment operations, which includes postal service support and transportation for the region.
“It was outstanding to have the command team from Task Force Sinai visit us before we deployed,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Bunck, commander of the 630th CSSB, Lenoir, N.C., “It was helpful to get his intent, his priorities, and understand how he thinks and to see how our unit fits in his organization. He cleared up a lot of unanswered questions we had.”
The fact that Haycock spent time with each soldier was not lost on 2nd Lt. Sheila Alicea, a medical logistic officer, from Puerto Rico.
“It means a lot, to have the opportunity to know the person who is in charge before we get over there, establish a rapport and feel comfortable talking to him,” said Rico, a doctorial candidate in clinical psychology at Ponce School of Medicine, Puerto Rico. “He talked about the situation over there and addressed some rumors. He alleviated a lot of concerns the soldiers had.”
Haycock advised the National Guard leaders to use the deployment to better themselves and their soldiers.
“Strive to be the best you can be personally and professionally,” Haycock said. “In nine months, you can really develop and influence your Soldiers – take care of Soldiers; they are our best commodity.”
Haycock suggested the soldiers take college courses and improve unit PT scores during the deployment. However, he reminded them to stay vigilant.
“This is not Iraq, it’s not Afghanistan, it’s a totally different environment,” he said. “However, we are not gamblers. What we do is inherently dangerous, and we must always mitigate risk.”
Spc. Robert Rockhill, a mortuary affairs specials and combat medic, said the visit instilled a sense of pride in him for what they will do in the Sinai.
“The advice and knowledge I took away from his visit was to not become complacent and stagnant in our day-to-day activities,” said Rockhill, from Chapel Hill, N.C. “Keep constant situational awareness is the bottom line.”
The unit will be supporting another N.C. National Guard unit, the 5-113th Field Artillery, headquartered in Louisburg. The 5-113th FA is currently in the region to observe, report, and confirm violations of the Treaty of Peace and to facilitate the continuing peace between Israel and Egypt. The MFO mission was established in the Sinai Peninsula more than 30 years ago.
This is not the only time the 630th CSSB has deployed. In 1991, the 630th deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In 2006, they deployed again to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; a deployment which earned the unit a Meritorious Unit Commendation.
The 205th Infantry Brigade, part of First Army Division East, mobilizes, trains, validates and deploys Reserve Component units to support overseas military operations. Along with Reserve component units, the division's trainer/mentors prepare and deploy sailors and airmen, along with selected members of the interagency and intergovernmental departments, to provide trained and ready forces across a full-spectrum of operations to regional combatant commanders worldwide.