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    NY State Defense Force members conduct on-line recruit training

    New York Guard conducts online training for new members

    Photo By Mark Getman | Members of the Initial Entry Training class of the New York Guard, the state's...... read more read more



    Story by Mark Getman 

    New York National Guard

    CAMP SMITH, New York --Fifty-three new members of the New York Guard, the state’s volunteer emergency response force, went online this fall for their version of the Army’s basic training from October 5 to 9.

    Traditionally the New York Guard holds a week-long Initial Entry Training program for new volunteers in the summer at Camp Smith Training Site near Peekskill.

    During the five-day course, the brand-new New York Guard members learn the basics of serving in a military force. They learn how to march, they learn about military courtesy, they learn how to wear the uniform, how to tell military time and use the military phonetic alphabet, explained New York Guard Col. Ed Keyrouze, the New York Guard’s chief of staff.

    New York Guard members are volunteers who wear military uniforms, and use a military rank structure and chain-of-command, but are a state-only force who do not carry weapons. New York Guard members augment the New York Army and Air National Guard during state emergencies, serving alongside National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in the field and in command posts.

    As of October 15, 47 New York Guard members were on duty as part of the 1,400 member New York National Guard COVID-19 task force.

    Many members of the New York Guard have prior military experience, but for those who have never worn a uniform the Initial Entry Training is an important introduction into the military world, Keyrouze explained.

    That training is usually held as part of the New York Guard’s week-long training session in the summer at Camp Smith. But the annual training session was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Because New York Guard members are considered state employees for legal purposes, state regulations against large gatherings meant that conducting annual training for 250 to 300 people at Camp Smith was not possible.

    So like businesses and schools across the country, the New York Guard took their education program online.

    Classes which would have been taught in person were conducted over the Zoom conferencing application using slide shows and videos, Keyrouze said.

    “We took our core training, which you would have received in person, and we present it to you virtually,” New York Guard Brig. Gen. David Warager, the commander of the New York Guard told trainees during an online session. “We simply changed tactics and applied technology to solve the problem.”

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all in our daily lives and it has significantly impacted the New York Guard in its ability to conduct the normal Initial Entry Training program that we do annually to prepare new soldiers to support state active duty missions,” Warager said.

    Instructors from the New York Guard’s 12th Regional Training Institute conducted classes over Zoom from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the five days that the school was conducted. Classes were recorded so that New York Guard members who had to miss a session because of family or job responsibilities could catch up later, explained 2nd Lt. Steven Blake, one of the instructors.

    “This training isn’t a replacement for the in-person experience, but critical points and critical training we were able to get across,” Blake said. “And of course, there are technical issues on both ends, which you wouldn’t have with in person training.”

    Since the volunteers were considered to be on duty during the training they were expected to wear their uniforms. The instructors even conducted online spot uniform inspections, ID card checks and boot checks to ensure these new soldiers were in the proper uniform during their virtual training, just as they would have in a classroom setting, Blake said.

    New York Guard Spc. Petar Simonovic, a member of New York City’s 88th Area Command, said he was skeptical about how effective the online training would be. But the training turned out to be interesting and engaging and it worked, he said.

    He even figured out how to serve as a squad leader when the squad could only see each other on a Zoom call and were scattered across the region.

    “Let’s just say my e-mail folder has never been bigger and thank goodness for unlimited text messaging,” Simonovic said.

    Spc. Israa Cahill, a member of the 10th Area Command in Buffalo, also said that the training worked.

    “For sure it’s not the same experience like in person training but still I had an awesome week. The NCOs did great job and I learned a lot from them,” Cahill said.

    “The 12th RTI was able to quickly adjust course and prepare a quality curriculum and arrange the technology to deliver this course in a virtual environment, but one that allowed significant interaction between instructor and student and between the students,” Warager said.

    “The students were actively engaged and excited to participate in and complete the program and are now fully eligible to deploy for state active duty missions as needed,” he said.



    Date Taken: 10.22.2020
    Date Posted: 10.22.2020 10:04
    Story ID: 381483

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