News: DC National Guard Unit Performs Exclusive Annual Training
By Capt. Charon Camarasa
Mobilization Augmentation Command, DC National Guard
FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Nearly 60 Army National Guard soldiers from the Mobilization Augmentation Command performed an exclusive annual training exercise at the Regional Training Institute at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, June 23-29, 2012.
The MAC, subordinate to the District of Columbia Army National Guard, is a unique unit commanded by Col. Brian Tate. The MAC’s mission is to provide highly qualified personnel to assist multiple military operations centers and agency partners supporting civil authorities, a national crisis, or wartime requirements. The highly qualified officers and enlisted personnel were selected from a pool of various military occupational specialties to join the MAC.
This year’s exclusive training consisted of tactical refresher courses, challenging team-building activities and the completion of the Joint Task Force Staff Training Course (JSTC), which was led by the NORAD/USNORTHCOM Joint Training Education Division.
Shortly after arrival to Fort Belvoir, soldiers reviewed their personnel files and provided missing documentation to the administrative MAC personnel. The military service records review was intended to assist MAC personnel with their promotion packets and bring unit records up-to-date to comply with Army regulations. In conjunction with the records review, numerous training events were ongoing to keep personnel fully engaged.
The challenging tactical regime was built upon critical life-savings skills while focusing on teamwork and leadership. It consisted of a land navigation course, the weapons Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, convoy training exercises using state-of-the-art equipment, and the utilization of the HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer. The HEAT is a realistic tool that trains troops in the proper procedures to exit a vehicle during a roll-over. The overall intent of the tactical training was to assert essential warrior skills, which were successfully accomplished this year.
Phase-one training was concluded with fun team-building activities. These consisted of egg balancing competitions, potato sack races, and a three-legged running contest that caused soldiers to break out into peals of hysterical laughter.
“The events were tailored to build trust and cohesiveness in our unit. I think we achieved that goal this year,” said Tate, who expressed his support by competing in all exercises.
In the second phase, the NORAD/USNORTHCOM instructors led the JSTC instruction. The experts had prepared multiple tabletop exercises based on all-hazards emergency preparedness contingencies and crisis action planning. The JSTC scenarios were tailored to measure the MAC’s understanding of authorities, functions, limitations and coordination required by National Guard leaders in order to build sound plans during incident response planning.
Before attending the elite course, MAC members were required to complete the Joint Domestic Operations Course, a 50-hour course of distance learning instruction. At the conclusion of the training, each soldier received joint credit and two certificates of completion to add to their military records. Due to its comprehensive material, both courses are typically taught to senior officers of the rank of colonel and above.
Because of the MAC’s mission to support civil authorities, the MAC was the first National Guard unit to require all of its soldiers to graduate from such extensive training.
At the end of the course, the MAC commander publically thanked and presented certificates of appreciation for job well done to the NORTHCOM instructors. Tate addressed the classroom to expresses his satisfaction of the JSTC course performance.
“We achieved our training objectives. We now have a better understanding of the collaborative planning required at the JFHQ level when National Guard is called to assist in civil support operations.” then added, “Great job everyone.”
Maj. Staci Kato, the MAC’s Operations Officer, was instrumental with this year’s annual training. Kato, with the assistance of MAC operations personnel, had spent several months coordinating with the NORAD/NORTHCOM instructors, meeting with training coordinators and ensuring all logistics were in place to operate at full efficiency.
Kato carried a heavy burden as she was in charge of meeting the commander’s training objectives. To ensure mission success, she developed multiple backup plans in the event of inclement weather or unscheduled events affecting the pre-planned training agenda. Consequently, the weather conditions favored this years’ training and Kato’s hard work paid off. The soldiers provided positive feedback on the entire annual training.
“I found the JSTC training interesting because I enjoy high-level policy discussions. I think it is important for National Guardsmen to understand how to run a joint task force,” said Maj. Stephen Coren, a MAC officer assigned to the Department of the Army Operations, a subsection of the MAC. Coren served in Iraq during 2006-2007 with the 20th Special Forces Group. Coren’s background has helped him become a highly-proficient trainer in tactical soldier skills. With a team of three personnel, he taught the land navigation section of this years’ annual training.
At the end of the annual training the commander gave his closing remarks and the MAC soldiers were released. The American flag was finally lowered, signifying the end of annual training.
Date Posted:09.05.2012 15:23
Location:FORT BELVOIR, VA, US
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