329th RSG units conduct AT at Fort Pickett

Soldiers from the Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group conduct a field training exercise at their annual training May 23, 2015, at Fort Pickett, Va.  (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group conduct a field training exercise at their annual training May 23, 2015, at Fort Pickett, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Two transportation companies and one military police company from the 329th Regional Support Group conducted annual training May 16 to 27, 2015, at Fort Pickett, Va., and with each unit on a different readiness cycle, the company leaders were able to tailor their training to the specific needs of their Soldiers and assigned missions.

Most of the units in the 329th RSG available to conduct annual training did so in May, but at a number of different locations. The Gate City-based 1030th Transportation Battalion headquarters along with elements of the 329th brigade-level staff, the Virginia Beach-based 229th Military Police Company and Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company were at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La. and the Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company at the National Maintenance Training Center in Camp Dodge, Iowa. This left the bulk of the 266th and the Martinsville-based 1173rd Transportation Company and 1710th Transportation conducting annual training at Fort Pickett.

“They did a great job,” said Col. Michelle Rose, commander of the 329th RSG. “The three company commanders were given the opportunity to plan and execute the training each of their companies needed. We have to be able to trust company commanders to conduct their own training with guidance from their battalion and brigade headquarters, and I was really impressed with how well they did. There was a lot of innovative thinking going on between company commanders, first sergeants and operations sergeants to make sure the training was conducted effectively.”

The Army’s Force Generation model, or ARFORGEN, establishes how Guard units plan their training with the first year after a mobilization being known as the “reset” year. In following years, the training echelon advances to team, squad, platoon and higher in order to prepare the unit for its “ready” year when it can be mobilized for federal active duty. Each company in the 329th RSG can be mobilized independently for federal active duty, so each one is on a different cycle of readiness.

Annual training for the 1710th Transportation Company was the unit’s first since returning from federal active duty in Afghanistan, so the training focused on the basics.

“We’re coming out of reset, and the focus was on individual and squad level tasks,” said Capt. John R. Crocker, III, commander of the 1710th. “We didn’t have those large company level culminating events like the other units do. My goals were to complete our individual and crew served weapons qualifications and provide Soldiers with driver training in both a controlled and real world environment.”

Crocker said that 99 percent of available Soldiers qualified on their individual assigned weapon, and all sergeants and below completed Structured Self Development Level 1 courses.

Training also focused on basic driving skills like backing, alley docking and securing loads as well as mounted land navigation to help Soldiers prepare for any hauling mission.

AT also provided an opportunity for real-world training as well.

“We also conducted several small hauling missions in and around Fort Pickett, including hauling eight loads of scrap metal from the ranges to the recycle yard, hauling 12 Humvees back to Virginia Beach for the 229th MPs and moving some equipment for MATES,” Crocker said.

The 266th Military Police Company is at the same point in its ARFORGEN cycle, but unit leaders were also able to include some collective task training that reinforced individual tasks.

“My goals for this annual training were to conduct more military police mission essential task list training than last year’s AT and focus on the core values of a military police combat support company, while still reaching weapons qualification goals for this training year,” said Capt. Robert V. Maffeo Jr., commander of the 266th. “This is difficult to do, because we usually end up spending a good portion of our time at weapons ranges because we have eight weapons systems we need to qualify on and have limited time for everything else.”

Because the company was able to complete the majority of weapons ranges during drill weekends, unit leaders were able to incorporate more unique training during AT. In particular, Maffeo said the unit wanted to make sure it was full training on tasks associated with civil disturbance response operations. “I believe all of our Soldiers came out well trained and prepared for any possible real-world missions in the near future,” he said.

Unit leaders were able to schedule challenging live fire training with the assistance of the Virginia State Police. A Virginia State Trooper spoke with Soldiers about responding in life-threatening situations and also assisted with the conduct of a stress fire course where Soldiers fired pistols with the addition of loud noises and other potential distractors.

“It was an outstanding opportunity to put the Soldiers in situations that were made to be as realistic as possible, and we were able to evaluate their response to the stress.” Maffeo said. “Accuracy with the weapon dropped during the stress-fire course compared to a regular M9 qualification range, which is expected. The reason we do this training is so if an unfortunate situation ever arises where they have to draw their weapon and use it, they will be better prepared to handle the situation.”

The culminating event for the MPs during annual training was the the 72-hour field training exercise where the platoons completed 17 missions that included elements from all five military police functions. The platoons had to gather information about high value targets in the simulated villages, make arrests, collect evidence, brief operations orders, conduct area and route security, conduct detainee operations and ultimately capture the two HVTs that were in the area of operations.

The FTX also integrated the company’s headquarters elements to the medics performing first aid on simulated casualties during the missions, the communications section establishing multiple antenna arrays in order for vehicles to have communication, mechanics maintaining and fixing the vehicles in need or repairs and the cooks planning to feed all the Soldiers during the exercise.

“All elements and sections of the company had to work together to successfully accomplish the mission.” Maffeo said.

Overall, the company achieved 100 percent qualification on M4 and M9 as well as 100 percent on crew served weapons. In addition, they were able to get six more Soldiers qualified on chain saws for a total of 14 and more than 100 percent of the unit requirement, as well as conduct a number of other training requirements including significant advancements on SSD.

“All of this is essential to maintaining our readiness to support both local, state, and federal missions,” Maffeo said.

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View and download high resolution photos on Flickr:

Manassas-based MPs conduct FTX during annual training
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157653512823371

1173rd Trans. Co. Soldiers rehearse for convoy live fire exercise
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157651183182214

Emporia-based transporters live fire M249s during AT
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157653099180169

1173rd Trans. Co. Soldiers navigate Leader Reaction Course
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157653107728998