Fort Pickett holds open house

Visitors attending the Virginia National Guard Maneuver Training Center - Fort Pickett open house Sept. 6, 2013, observe training conducted by Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.  (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Visitors attending the Virginia National Guard Maneuver Training Center – Fort Pickett open house Sept. 6, 2013, observe training conducted by Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

BLACKSTONE, Va. — The Virginia National Guard Maneuver Training Center – Fort Pickett held an open house Sept. 6, 2013, to showcase the facilities and capabilities that make the installation one of the premier military and public safety training destinations on the East Coast. The open house was conducted in two phases, one for government officials and one for the general public.

“I think it went great,” said Col. Bill Korsen, commander of Fort Pickett. “The engagement with the local leaders went very well. They understand what goes on at Fort Pickett, and they understand the issues. It is really important that we continue to build that relationship with our local leaders, because we need to work together in order to be successful.”

The first phase of the open house was an information briefing for federal, state and local government officials and a short tour that included the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site, renovated barracks and the new training facilities for the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute. The second phase of the open house was open to the general public and included a tour of several training venues where visitors observed training conducted by Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Korsen also answered several questions related to Fort Pickett’s hunting rules. The installation offers archery season from Oct. 5 to Nov. 15, muzzleloading from Nov. 2 to Nov. 15 and general firearms from Nov. 16 to Jan. 4. Hunters are allowed two per day, six per year hunting of either gender deer on Wednesday and Fridays and Nov. 23, Nov. 30, and Dec. 23 through Jan. 4. Quail hunting is permitted on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays only, and rabbit hunting is allowed Nov. 2 to Feb. 28. All persons 12 years of age and older must present a hunter education certificate in order to purchase a Fort Pickett hunting permit. For more information about seasons and special restrictions, contact the Fort Pickett Game Check Station at (434) 292-2618.

“Fort Pickett has good people who are working hard and doing the right thing on a very small budget,” Korsen said. “Any time anyone has the opportunity to see first hand what we do here, it is a good thing.”

Fort Pickett is approximately 41,000 acres and operated by the Virginia National Guard and features a combination of open and wooded terrain maneuver areas and 21 ranges capable of supporting almost any weapons system in the U. S. Army inventory. In addition, the installation has a rail spur and C-17 capable airfield as well as barracks to support more than 5,000 personnel and morale, welfare and recreation facilities including a gym, post exchange and leisure center.

More than 120 personnel assigned assigned to the MATES provide maintenance support on more than 500 combat vehicles and other equipment positioned at Fort Pickett including M1A1 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, howitzers and a variety of other tracked and wheeled vehicles. In addition to Virginia National Guard vehicles, MATES personnel maintain equipment assigned to the West Virginia and Pennsylvania Army National Guard that is drawn when units from those states come to Fort Pickett for training. In addition to vehicle maintenance shops, MATES also contains supply areas and a variety of repair shops including vehicle painting, body work, communications equipment and small arms.

At the RTI’s state-of-the-art training center, Virginia Guard personnel teach infantry, military police and transportation military occupational skills as well as conduct commissioning programs for officers and warrant officers. The education facilities and living quarters for personnel conducting training at RTI were dramatically improved with a new education complex completed in December 2010 and barracks facilities completed in September 2012 at a total cost of $57 million.

The Marines and Sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted urban training near the towns of Charlottesville, Dinwiddie and Natural Bridge, Va., and conducted combat training at Fort Pickett and other Virginia military installations to help them prepare for their upcoming deployment early next year. The 22nd MEU is composed of its command element; Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment; Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263 (Reinforced); and Combat Logistics Battalion 22. The MEU is slated to be the landing force for the Norfolk-based Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, which consists of the amphibious assault ships USS Bataan, USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) and USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44). The MEU and Bataan ARG are scheduled to deploy in early 2014 to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility to serve as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious missions across the full range of military operations.

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