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    Soldiers face uncertain challenges, deploy with new skills

    Soldiers face uncertain challenges, deploy with new skills

    Photo By Maj. Stephen Von Jett | A Soldier assigned to 4th Military Information Support Group practices pistol-fighting...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Stephen Von Jett 

    4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne)

    One Soldier straps himself into a beat-up sedan with welded on fenders. His fingers curl around the warn and sun cracked wheel as he slides into gear and coaxes the poor engine up to collision velocity, approximately 30 miles per hour. He closes the distance with the lead vehicle, makes contact along the rear fender and pushes through, spinning the lead vehicle around 180 degrees, flooding it’s engine and leaving it stalled heap on the side of the track.

    Away from the crunch of cars, a Soldier settles into an office chair and logs into a social media account. Within minutes, swirling diagrams of connectedness pulse across the screen as locations are linked to users half a world away. Those users are linked to others through real and implied relationships and as patterns emerge the Soldier is able to determine where the seat of influence lies for a small town in Syria currently under ISIS control.

    Two scenes like this wouldn’t be out of place during the opening credits of your typical spy thriller, but this is no performance and these Soldiers, both from the 4th Military Information Support Group, will soon be taking their skills overseas, into the U.S. Army Central Command’s area of responsibility.

    Paratroopers from 4th MISG and psychological operations reservists fill billets in the Military Information Support Task Force – CENTCOM. This headquarters coordinates influence operations across the entire region. The MISTF-C personnel staff information support operations cells throughout the command, provide photographic, audio-visual and print support to forward commanders, and as the need arises can deploy down to the country or region level to work specific missions and challenges.

    For the Soldiers training to deploy, a made-to-order skillset is required. The support personnel receive tactical training from Gryphon Group Security Solutions in Maxton, North Carolina. Meanwhile, the psychological operators get schooled on surgical social media analysis by the Echo Analytics Group.

    Maj. Pattric Patterson, the operations officer for 4th MISG, is responsible for the pre-mission training these Soldiers receive, and ensuring that training meets the MISTF-C’s ever-changing requirements.

    “PMT at this level isn’t all that different than what the battalions are training,” Patterson said. “They do the language and cultural immersion, all the first aid training, but receive unique training based on feedback from the MISTF-C.”

    “Training like what Gryphon Group provides is important for our support personnel because our enemies don’t care what our [specialty] is,” Patterson said. He learned this lesson first hand after being in country for nine days when the government was overthrown. Patterson found himself driving around a country in turmoil conducting non-combatant evacuation operations.

    For the detachment at Gryphon Group, they learned pistol fighting, the art of the draw and firing on the move. Behind the wheel they conducted evasive driving techniques, whizzing through obstacles in reverse, and the difference between a crash and a collision.

    J.D., the evasive driving instructor for Gryphon Group, explained the difference before the students learned to execute precision immobilization technique maneuvers.

    “A crash disables your vehicle. A collision is controlled,” J.D. said before executing the PIT maneuver on each student. Next the students practiced on each other, and later that day they attempted to PIT an instructor-driven vehicle while under small arms contact.

    The ambush lane takes the Soldiers from a vehicle rollover through a hail of paint balls to waiting vehicles. While on the move they must execute downed driver drills, where the passenger must take over for an incapacitated driver. Once “revived” the driver navigates a series of narrow corridors while in reverse and being pelted with paintballs. Then they get the chance to PIT one of the chase vehicles. Finally they execute another dismounted movement through the open to a safe house.

    Sweating, covered in paint and blistering welts from the impacts, shaking their heads at their missteps the group huddled around for their critique. These are not infantrymen, these teams have not grown up in glass houses with their arms aching from ready-up drills. They are artists, photographers, communications specialists and technicians, but all Soldiers. Soldiers with unique skillsets that will be plying their trade in the asymmetric landscape of today’s battle space.

    Later, a lieutenant assigned to 3rd Military Information Support Battalion shared his thoughts.

    “Part of this training is learning how to react to mistakes, how to work through stress,” he said. “Learning how my thought processes and motor skills are affected by different levels of stress was so important.”

    Soldiers conducting the social media training found just as much value in their endeavors. Sam Stolzoff is the chief instructor of the Surgical Social Media Analysis course taught by the Echo Analytics Group.

    “Students learn how to process social media data into full spectrum intelligence,” Stolzhoff said. “Using a multifaceted approach to understanding people, they can process that data into predictive analysis.”

    The course is a combination of lecture, practical and peer learning that aims to maximize the student’s capability to conduct advanced social media analytics with various social media tools. As these PSYOP paratroopers already know the areas they’ll be focusing on while working at the MISTF-C, they are able to get a head start on their missions and begin analysis immediately.

    “We will use this. Both during initial research and then using the… tools to measure relevancy and effectiveness,” one student said while working on his capstone project. “This isn’t a spoof, this isn’t notional. I’m working on analysis that I will be taking down range and using.”

    Whether it is behind a wheel or behind a keyboard, these Soldiers are getting real skills that produce real results. At the end of the day, they’re safer for it and better trained. 4th MISG has made pre-mission training for the MISTF-C mission a priority. While the skills needed to conquer forward challenges continue to evolve, these Soldiers stand prepared.




    Date Taken: 11.15.2016
    Date Posted: 11.17.2016 12:14
    Story ID: 214655
    Location: MAXTON, NC, US 

    Web Views: 350
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