News: 7th Military Information Support Battalion (Airborne) goes through embassy simulation for pre-mission training
FORT BRAGG. N.C. - Sgt. 1st Class Maurie Haith knew to always be prepared for the unexpected. Notwithstanding, it was still a very nasty surprise when his Officer in Charge, Captain Rishi Ramsooksingh, didn’t clear customs as they began their mission.
It was an even nastier surprise when he saw the security agents hand Captain Ramsooksingh over to two men in plainclothes who bustled him into a car and drove away.
Indeed, it was a tough first day on the job for Military Information Support Team (MIST) Mauritania. Thankfully for them, the trouble took place in a training exercise in Fort Story, Va., and not on the dusty streets of Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital.
Four MISTs from the 7th Military Information Support Battalion (Airborne) recently participated in the two week training exercise which took place from May 1st-15th. The teams are preparing to deploy in support of the US Embassies in Mauritania, Algeria, Djibouti, and Kenya. The exercise included a simulated embassy (set up in the horribly Spartan conditions of seaside bungalows) that was staffed by role-players portraying key Embassy personnel such as the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) and the Public Affairs Officer (PAO). In their training, the teams developed products relevant to the current diplomatic missions in their host countries. Additionally, they got put on the spot with injected incidents, such as a kidnapping of a USAID worker and a local flood. With limited time and resources, they developed products for use in these situations as well.
And throughout their stay in Fort Story, the teams had to contend with a nefarious red cell staffed by HUMINT soldiers. The red cell left everything from threatening notes to simulated improvised explosive devices by the teams’ living areas to test their operational security capabilities. The Algeria team even had a soldier “captured” by the opposition because he was left by himself for too long.
After the time at Fort Story, the teams traveled to Washington, D.C., where they had opportunities to meet with people in the Department of State. Sgt Matthew Linder, team leader of the Algeria MIST, was most thankful for this part. “It was a great opportunity to network with the state department people and share our capabilities with them,” he said. “That was definitely my favorite part about all this training.”
Seventh Battalion’s commander and company level leaders all expressed great satisfaction with the exercise and found it to be a great opportunity for their soldiers of all experience levels to learn and grow. All are hoping to continue such large scale training exercises in the future.
Story by Sgt Carlton Brown