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    Mounted unit rides into annual training exercise

    CAMP SAN LUIS OBISBO, CA, UNITED STATES

    06.14.2021

    Story by 2nd Lt. Jennifer Brofer 

    California State Guard

    CAMP SAN LUIS OBISBO, Calif - Members of the 26th Mounted Operations Detachment (MOD), Operations Group, mounted their horses and participated in an annual training exercise here June 11-12.
    The training exercise involved the 26th MOD conducting Search and Rescue operations for a simulated downed aircraft with evacuated survivors, a situation they may encounter in the future. The unit is currently working to obtain SARTECH-2 certification through the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR).
    “We’re a fully-mounted rescue team on horseback,” said 1st Lt. Kathleen King, who retired from the Army Reserve and now serves in the California State Guard as a member of the 26th MOD. “Since we are mounted, we can cover terrain a little bit faster than people on the ground. And our visibility is a little bit higher, we can see things better than someone on foot.”
    King, a bio chemist, has been riding horses since she was four years old and rides a rope horse named Sunny. She originally joined the CSG as an environmental science compliance officer but transferred to the 26th MOD when she found out about the mounted unit.
    “I heard about this detachment, and I said ‘Horses? You gotta sign me up!’” said King.
    The 26th MOD officially stood up in 2020 with the help of its commander, Maj. Frank Quiambao, whose father served in the 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts) during World War II alongside Lt. Col. Edwin Ramsey, a guerilla leader who led the last charge of the United States Cavalry in military history in January 1942. When Quiambao’s father and Ramsey both passed away, Quiambao formed the 26th Cavalry Philippine Scouts Heritage Society Ceremonial Mounted Group as a way to honor their legacy.
    “We wanted to do something to remember them, commemorate them and honor them,” said Quiambao, who rides a 22-year-old mare named Jewel, a half-Arab, half-Welsh Cob who has participated in 40 parades, including Pasadena’s annual Rose Parade.
    The mounted group participated in parades, ceremonies and educational events. When Maj. Gen. Jay Coggan, CSG commanding general, formed the Operations Group, Quiambao approached him about adding a mounted unit to assist with Search and Rescue (SAR).
    “Horses can be used for all kinds of things too. Why not Search and Rescue?” said Quiambao. “Mounted searchers can travel far more ground. If the ground SAR team needs supplies, we can always go back to the base very quickly and bring the supplies and equipment to the ground SAR. And horses are outstanding at night. They can see, hear and smell far better than humans, and when we’re out there at night, their eyes are almost as good as night-vision goggles.”
    The 26th MOD currently has eight riders, and they’re actively recruiting for more members who have their own horse and trailer.
    “The CSG relies on volunteers, so for the most part they’re donating their time to us in times of emergencies, and we’re always looking for new members to come,” said Col. Jon Siepmann, commander of Operations Group, who recently joined the CSG after serving in the California National Guard for more than 30 years. ‘We’ve got a good presence in southern California, and we’re trying to expand our presence in central and northern California, so anybody out there who wants to come serve their state and country and wants to be part of a military organization whose number one job is to help Californians, come on out and bring your horse with you. I’ve never served with a better group of people than when I serve with the California State Guard.”


    1st Lt. Kathleen King, member of 26th Mounted Operations Detachment, “We’re a fully-mounted rescue team on horseback. Since we are mounted, we can cover terrain a little bit faster than people on the ground. And our visibility is a little bit higher, we can see things better than someone on foot, and we can get into terrain that’s a little bit tougher than people traveling. It’s a little bit quicker and a little bit more visibility. Sunny is a rope horse that I have, but he’s really docile enough where I can do pretty much anything, so he’s a good sport. I’ve been riding since I was about four years old, so I’ve tried different things, jumping, show jumping for a while, then I got into quarterhorses and kinda more of the Western scene and break-away roping. I retired from the Army Reserve and I still wanted to do something and I found out about the State Guard. I’m actually a bio chemist, so I went into their Environmental Science Compliance Officer, and then I heard about this detachment, and I said “Horses, you gotta sign me up! I feel fortunate. Today we’re practicing for an actual incident. The scenario is an airplane that’s been downed and so we need to help provide support to find it and if there’s any casualities or people alive, so today we’re practicing, getting all our gear together and riding as a unit to see how things work out, what we need and what we don’t need.

    Col. Jon Siepmann, Commander of Operatins Group, California State Guard
    This is the annual training exercise for Operations Group. We’ve got a number of units out here today, one of them is our Mounted Ops unit which comes complete with horses, trailers, these are volunteers that brought their horses to assist with things like Search and Rescue, animal rescue, we do a number of security patrols and other things in support of the Guard and in support of California in general. We’re just happy to be out here today with the horses, we’ve got some great training weather and great training area here at Camp San Luis Obispo. Our mounted operations detachment is one of the many capabilities that the California State Guard brings. In this case it’s horses, and the folks who have them and keep them usually it’s their own horses and they bring them out for us, both in an operational setting today where we’re learning how to do Search and Rescue operations as well as doing things like security, they represent us in parades and other things, but their main focus is really operational missions and that’s why they’re there. We’ve got a ground SAR team, which is dismounted personnel, this is a mounted team which can do SAR and other operations. What you’ll see today is us interacting with SLO county ground search and rescue, they’re out here we’ve got a scenario where we’ve got a downed aircraft and these mounted search teams are gonna be part of that effort to go find the notional downed aircraft and any personnel that may be there. The CSG relies on volunteers, so for the most part they’re donating their time to us in times of emergencies. We do bring them on State Active Duty (SAD), but during training we’re always looking for new members to come, particularly if you’ve got a horse trailer and that sorta thing. We’ve got a good presence in southern California, we’re trying to expand our presence to central and northern California. So anybody out there that wants to come serve their state and country and wants to be part of a military organization whose number one job is to help Californians, come on out and bring your horse with you. I’ve been in the military since 1989, so I’m going on 32 years here, and most of it with the California National Guard, and recently with California State Guard. They’re both fantastic organizations. The state guard is unique in that its sole mission is civil support, so they’re out there to respond to emergencies and help Californians. It’s been gratifying to me as the Operations Group commander to have so many great Californians out giving their time, their effort, whether it’s on horseback or emergency communications, or Search and Rescue unit, or liaison unit or Mission Support Detachment with their tents and generators. These are all Californians who all come together. I’ve been overseas a number of times and I’ve done a lot of emergencies, and I’ve never served with a better group of people than when I serve with the California State Guard.

    Maj. Frank Quiambao, Commander of the 26th Mounted Operations Detachment, from Boston, Mass.
    Today is our annual training, and we’re going to be conducting a field training exercise (FTX). It’s going to be a Search and Rescue operation. The scenario is that there’s been a fire in San Luis Obispo that they’ve been trying to put the fire out, and one of the CAL-OES airplanes crashed, so it’s gonna be rescuing folks that evacuated and also trying to find the CAL-OES plane and hopefully its survivors. The MOD is a support to the SAR, so when you have ground SAR folks out there, they can’t move as fast as mounted troops. So mounted searchers can travel far more ground, albeit it’s got to be fairly flat, maybe rolling hills, and the ground-pounders can actually climb the cliffs and the mountains and everhitng else due to steep terrain. But we can cover the ground very quickly. If the ground SAR team needs supplies, we can always go back to the base very quickly, bring the supplies and equipment to the ground SAR, and horses are outstanding at night. They can see and hear and smell far better than humans. And when we’re out there at night, their eyes are almost as good as night-vision goggles, so they’re great. And when you’re on a horse you can really look down and you’ve got a great view from on top of a horse. So there are a lot of advantages to having a horse.
    Horse’s name is Jewel: She is a 22-year-old mare. She’s half-Arab, half-Welsh Cob, so you can see she’s a rather short horse. All Arab horses are short, but they’re extremely hearty and strong. Their bone density is denser than an average horse. Their lung capacity is better. They only have one less rib so they’re shorter. She may look small but she’s a handful.

    “My dad was a veteran of World War II; he fought in the Phillippines with the guerilla, and one of my very good friends who passed away a few years ago Lt. Col. Edwin Ramsey, when he was a young lieutenant in the Phillippines he was in the 26th Cavalry Phillippine Scouts, and he actually led the last charge of the United States Cavalry in the history of the United States Army in January 1942. Because of that, when he passed away and my dad passed away, we wanted to do something that could remember them, commemorate them and honor them. So we set up the 26th Cavalry Phillippine Scouts Heritage Society Ceremonial Mounted Group. Then later on, General Emmanuel found out that most of the people in the group were part of the state military reserve and so he said “Why don’t we set up a mounted unit?” So we did, we set up a mounted unit that was mainly ceremonial that would go at parades, color guards, educational things. Then when Gen. Coggan set up the Ops Group under the command of Col. Siepmann, we said “Well you know what, horses can be used for all kinds of things too. Why not Search and Rescue?” So I talked to Col. Siepmann and said “You know what sir, we’d love to join Ops Group. Strangely enough, parades are very difficult and actually very dangerous because of the crowds, the noise and a horse that can be out in a parade, they might get spooked by the noise, by the flags, by the pompom girls, the band and everything else, so these horses have to be specially trained. This horse has been in about 40 parades, she’s actually been in the Rose Parade too, as part of the Phillippine Scouts.

    The MOD started up in October 2020. The 26th Cavalry Support Regiment started in 2017.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.14.2021
    Date Posted: 06.14.2021 15:42
    Story ID: 398870
    Location: CAMP SAN LUIS OBISBO, CA, US

    Web Views: 274
    Downloads: 0

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