Va. Guardsman prepare for overseas deployment

Soldiers from the 134th Chaplain Support Team and the 1945th Contingency Contracting Team conduct individual weapons qualification Oct. 18, 2013, at Fort Pickett, Va., as part of their three-week pre-mobilization training. Both units will deploy in early 2014, with the chaplain team deploying to Qatar and the contracting team deploying to Afghanistan. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the 134th Chaplain Support Team and the 1945th Contingency Contracting Team conduct individual weapons qualification Oct. 18, 2013, at Fort Pickett, Va., as part of their three-week pre-mobilization training. Both units will deploy in early 2014, with the chaplain team deploying to Qatar and the contracting team deploying to Afghanistan. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Soldiers from the 134th Chaplain Support Team and the 1945th Contingency Contracting Team conducted pre-mobilization training together at Fort Pickett, Oct. 5-25, 2013, in preparation for their upcoming overseas deployments. The chaplain team, consisting of one chaplain and one chaplain’s assistant, will deploy to Qatar early next year, while the contracting team, comprised of four Soldiers, will deploy to Afghanistan, also early next year.

The three-week training period was conducted by the Virginia Guard’s Pre-Mobilization Training Assistance Element, or PTAE, and began with “University Week,” a weeklong segment of mandatory briefings on topics including the law of war and the U.S. Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program.

“We’re here to support the Soldiers as they go off and do great things for the country,” said Maj. Eric Reschke, the officer in charge of the PTAE.

Following University Week, the Soldiers headed out to the field for hands-on training, including land navigation, individual weapons qualification and various warrior tasks.

“It is my belief that these are all Soldier skills that everyone should know already,” Reschke said. “There is nothing new that anyone should take away from this, other than as a refresher.”

The training conducted at Fort Pickett fulfills various training requirements for deploying Soldiers, and will allow for shorter mobilization periods at out-of-state mobilization stations. There, the Soldiers will conduct additional training and receive country-specific deployment preparation.

Spc. Timothy Johnson, the chaplain’s assistant assigned to the chaplain team, said, of the training, “So far, the training has been a good refresher. It’s pretty much like basic consolidated into three weeks.”

While deployed to Afghanistan, the 1945th will provide contracting support, purchasing goods and services that can’t be acquired through normal U.S. Army supply chains, according to Capt. Herbert Hankins, commander of the 1945th Contracting Team.

“Contracting has become such a huge role in the Army nowadays and so many things are done through contracts now – base support, base operations – and it’s a huge, highly visible mission,” Hankins said. “We have a responsibility to make sure we close out the contracts in an efficient manner to meet the timeline of the combatant commanders as they draw down, and, as the Army prepares to pull out of Afghanistan, we still need to anticipate the service contracts required as the combat service support units pull out.”

In Qatar, the 134th Chaplain Support Team will provide chaplain services and spiritual guidance to deployed service members.

“I do whatever the chaplain needs,” Johnson said. “I set up services, I talk to the enlisted Soldiers and try and get a feel for what is going on in their lives. I’m the chaplain’s eyes and ears for the lower enlisted.”

Both units will begin their federal mobilizations early next year when they head to mobilization stations to conduct additional training.

“I’m really excited about deploying,” Johnson said. It will be his first overseas mobilization.

Photos: Chaplain and contracting teams conduct pre-mobilization training – Oct. 18, 2013