News: New public affairs unit headed to Guantanamo Bay
Story by Staff Sgt. Lasima Packett
INDIANAPOLIS - At Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., service members from four of the five branches report for training that validates a unit’s readiness and ability to conduct assigned missions in support of contingency operations in the Middle East, Horn of Africa and other areas of operation throughout the world.
In May, soldiers from the Indiana National Guard’s 120th Public Affairs Detachment and the Kentucky National Guard’s 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment mobilized to JB MDL to validate on their ability to provide public affairs support. The units will deploy to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for what could be a historic chapter in the global war on terror.
“Twelve years ago, America was attacked and that is what got us to where we are today,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson, public affairs operations noncommissioned officer in charge of the 133rd MPAD. “Now, our units will deploy to Guantanamo Bay and be witness to the commissions of the 9/11 Five, the conspirators of the Sept. 11 attacks.”
The two units, under the command of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, will facilitate a media operations center. Their mission includes media escort, staffing a base publication and supporting command information initiatives.
In order to ensure mission readiness downrange, the two units conducted a collective training exercise with real-world scenarios the soldiers may face at JTF-GTMO.
“Everything we do here is getting us ready for down range,” said Indiana Guardsman Staff Sgt. Lorne Neff, of the 120th PAD, from Franklin, Ind.
“The leadership and soldiers are really molding together and forming one homogenous unit,” said Neff.
That team concept, is important to the mission success said Capt. Andi Hahn, 133rd MPAD commander.
“We will be directly involved with media on an international stage,” she said, “in order to tell the story of America.
“We have two units coming together to do the same mission and we have to work together and have to understand each other's roles and skill,” she said.
“This is a good time for us to work out the kinks and figure out what each person is good at. That way when we get down range we can fall in and start being successful right away,” said Hahn.
For Kentucky Guard Sgt. David Bolton, public affairs specialist for the 133rd MPAD, the training has made him think about what he may face as a media relations escort during the deployment.
“I feel very confident in the training that we’ve received,” he said. “I feel that not only have we gotten the best training possible but also we’ve learned to use that training to facilitate our mission.”