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    Texas National Guardsmen gear up to Head Down Range

    Site Security Team transitions from 9 mm to M4 rifle

    Photo By Malcolm McClendon | Spc. James Cutbirth, along with his fellow Texas National Guardsmen, takes aim. The...... read more read more

    FORT BLISS, Texas – After a long morning of tying knots and making sure they held, Texas National Guardsmen were more than eager to bound off a perfectly good structure.

    Soldiers from the Site Security Team, Charlie Troop, 3-124 Cav., based out of Terrell, Texas, tightened up their rappelling skills at the base rappel tower at Fort Bliss, Texas.

    The instruction began with the Guardsmen learning how to tie a Swiss Seat, a 12-foot rope tied around the waist and through the legs in a manner that creates a seat for the soldier to secure himself via a snap link to the rappel tower’s rope. Once this rope twisting and turning is mastered the soldiers are given a few more safety checks and ascend the 40-foot tower for their decent.

    This is day one for the Texas Guardsmen from the SST who are going through a series of drills at their annual training.

    “Rappelling is just a confidence builder to prepare the soldiers for FRIES [Fast Rope Insertion and Extraction] training, advanced marksmanship training, rural and urban operations, and a final culmination exercise where these soldiers put to use the all training they have been given,” explains Staff Sgt. Michael Barker, instructor with the Insertion and Extraction Cell for Task Force Raptor (3-124 Cav.), the parent unit for the SST. “These are special skills for a special group of soldiers.”

    The soldiers of the SST were specifically chosen for the group, explains Sgt. 1st Class Adam Rosario, Platoon leader for the SST.

    “When we built the platoon we tried to adhere to a higher set of standards and this wasn’t a team that we told people they had to belong to; everyone here is a volunteer. We had an Army Physical Fitness Test, an interview board process and developed a merit list from that. In the end we put together a great group of guys, all here ‘cause they want to be.”

    The all-volunteer team is as varied as the training they partake in. Anything from bricklayers to policemen makes up the ranks.

    “I was in the police department for a few years and I always wanted to serve in the military. I looked around and I found that the Texas Army National Guard had the most to offer,” says Spc. James Cutbirth, team leader with the SST. “I first joined the LRS (Long Range Surveillance) unit here and when I heard about the SST, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve have been to jump school, Ranger school, and a lot of other good training.”

    Cutbirth is a full-time police officer with the Dallas Police Department and feels a connection between his job and the Texas National Guard.

    “I love the opportunity to be able to not only serve my community back home, but to serve my state and country as well; especially doing it with a group of good guys that feel the same way.”

    Cutbirth and the rest of the SST will deploy to the Horn of Africa early next year. There they will join other US military branch services in a joint training effort, in preparation for any personnel or equipment recovery missions.

    The SST mission is only one of many their higher headquarters, Task Force Raptor (3-124 Cav.), will be supporting in the East African region. There, the Task Force will join the larger Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa in promoting partnerships with area nations.

    For now, the men of the SST are hooking up their Swiss Seats, leaning back and bounding down the tower.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.30.2011
    Date Posted: 11.07.2011 17:24
    Story ID: 79687
    Location: FORT BLISS, TX, US 

    Web Views: 412
    Downloads: 1

    PUBLIC DOMAIN