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    Texas National Guardsmen begin deployment validation training

    B Troop give class on military hand signals

    Photo By Malcolm McClendon | Cpl. Watson from B Troop, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), gives a class on military...... read more read more

    CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. – In the non-stop Indiana drizzle, Texas National Guardsmen from Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) began the Combined Post Exercise portion of their pre-mobilization training at Camp Atterbury in preparation for deployment to the Horn of Africa early this year. The exercise consisted of three 12-hour days filled with scenarios testing what the soldiers have learned so far.

    Conducting force protection and entry control point drills, the soldiers of Alpha Troop’s 2nd Platoon were evaluated on their base defense skills. U.S. Army 1st Lt. Josue Muñoz, platoon leader, considers this a great exercise for his newer soldiers.

    “The good thing about this training is that it has given us plenty of time to work on the little things and build a strong foundation. We have a lot of soldiers that have never deployed, and now they know what to look for; they know how to properly provide base security.”

    Bravo Troop’s Quick Reaction Force stood by until they got the call to provide security and escort a VIP from the local embassy. Suited up in full gear, the soldiers rolled out in their Humvees, picked up the VIP and got him to safety. Platoon Sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Alphadel McKee, explains that these exercises prepare his soldiers for what they might face on their deployment.

    “Our counterparts over there have been keeping us informed of what’s going there and these drills, that we’ve been going through since PMT [Pre Mobilization Training] and AT [Annual Training], have been right on track.”

    Both McKee and Muñoz believe that all the training and hard work has paid off not only to prepare the soldiers, but also to bring them together and create unit cohesion.

    “A lot of the guys in my platoon come from all over Texas. We only had 28 organic soldiers in the beginning, all the rest were fillers. Throughout the training though, we have gotten to the point where we’re meshing really well and taking care of our basic soldiering skills,” added Sgt. 1st Class Marvin.

    “I’m amazed how well everyone is coming together. We have soldiers from all specialties and backgrounds out here and this training really highlights their unique skills and what they can contribute; making us stronger as a whole,” said Muñoz.

    While the men and women of A Troop’s 2nd platoon and B Troop’s QRF kept watch and stood by, administrative soldiers back at the Command Operations Center were tested on their skills.

    Sgt. Patrick Horton, supply sergeant for A Troop, was asked to play the part of a soldier needing to return home from deployment for an important civil matter. The scenario exercised the unit’s ability to handle the logistics of getting the soldier back to the States from overseas.

    “I was to approach them and let them know that I was going to be part of an adoption hearing. They immediately took action and set up meetings with the legal officer and family care representatives back home, and began the paper work. It was impressive to see how well they handled all the logistics that go into actually getting someone home. It exercised their mental muscles,” explained Horton.

    Three soldiers of B Troop had their mental muscles exercised when they were tasked to teach a group of young adults, playing the role of foreign military personnel, a course in military hand signals.

    The exercise was designed to give the soldiers a feel for what it might be like to teach military personnel from host countries within the Horn of Africa. For Sgt. Robert Willis, a massage therapist instructor back home, this proved to be very different than what he was used to.

    “We were exposed to possible situations like power outages, language barriers and having to use an interpreter, which slows your class down quite a bit. It’s completely different for those of us that haven’t been exposed to it,” said Willis.

    After the class, Willis and his fellow instructors conducted an after action report with their unit command as well as Dr. Claire Metelits, a Socio-Cultural Research Adviser with U.S. Africa Command.

    Metelits has been following the Task Force’s training at Camp Atterbury and serving as adviser on Horn of Africa cultures for the soldiers. She stresses that relationships are key to working with the people and militaries of the east African region.

    “In Africa it’s all about relationship building and you can’t do that without understanding the local culture. Our best weapon there is a smile and a handshake. I also encourage soldiers to learn a few key phrases in their language,” said Metelits.

    Metelits explains to the soldiers that African militaries know how to fight and their training needs are different.

    “Most of them [African soldiers] have been in combat and doing it for a long time; they know how to shoot. Things we can show them are Command and Control, how to take care of their vehicles, or how to conduct land navigation; it’s the tactical skills and structure that they can benefit from. And this is good training to prepare our soldiers to be successful over there,” Metelits added.

    The training scenario also gave Willis valuable insight on teaching and now looks forward to the opportunity to be able to share his knowledge with the African soldiers.

    “I think it’ll be fun and will be very exciting to have the opportunity to teach soldiers from other countries, and hopefully make a difference, and then look back on that one day and say, ‘I was part of that.’ With the insights the training gave me on how to teach and connect with them, I think we will be successful,” explained Willis.

    Willis, and his fellow soldiers from B Troop and A Troop continue training in the damp Camp Atterbury winter as they prepare for the second part of the evaluation next week: Command Training Exercise and 24-hour operations.



    Date Taken: 01.27.2012
    Date Posted: 01.31.2012 14:50
    Story ID: 83072
    Location: CAMP ATTERBURY, IN, US 

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