News: 300th MPAD Preps for Afghanistan
Story by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris
FORT DIX, N.J. — As 1st Sgt. Dianna Anderson of Fayetteville, Ga., stood at the podium to unveil a new program meant to benefit local Afghans, a barrage of questions from the media began to rain down upon her.
"Who is going to pay for the program, how will the program's assets be distributed and what safeguards will be implemented to ensure the money doesn't fall into terrorists' hands?" were only some of the challenges offered by the half-dozen local and international media members at the press briefing.
With nowhere available to duck and cover, Anderson had to stand tall and face this verbal assault head-on, answering each question in turn while remaining calm and collected.
At the press briefing's conclusion, the role-players acting as media came out of character, the trainers evaluating the briefing began their After Action Review, and Anderson breathed a sigh of relief for the briefing was not an actual event but part of mobilization training at Army Support Activity-Dix, N.J.
"It was a learning experience," said Anderson, who is training at ASA-Dix with the 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, an Army Reserve unit from Fort Gillem, Ga. "It was a lesson in flexibility — it taught me to be prepared for anything."
"It's something anyone in public affairs should be able to handle," she added. "We work with the press on a regular basis"
The 300th MPAD troops are preparing for deployment to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan where they will serve with the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs, according to Capt. Antonia Greene, public affairs training officer for the 72nd Field Artillery Brigade at ASA-Dix.
"They will act as both a media support center and MPAD," said Greene, who explained that the 300th MPAD will not only process and embed media in Afghanistan, but also acquire video and print stories. She also noted that arranging press briefings like the one Anderson took part in will most certainly be a part of the 300th's mission.
"It's a challenging environment — fast-paced, 24-hour operations," Greene said.
For Anderson, this marks the first deployment in a 22-year career that began with her enlistment as a Russian linguist with military intelligence during the Cold War.
At that time, her linguistic skills would have served her well in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Today, it's the public-affairs skills of Anderson and her fellow 300th MPAD soldiers that will allow them to successfully complete their mission.
"It's one of the most exciting MOSs (Military Occupational Specialties)," she said. "The soldiers are very talented and they love what they do; they're all squared-away."