Fox News spotlights Alaska's devoted 300
December 4, 2013
FORT GREELY, Alaska -- Soldiers from the 49th Missile Defense Battalion got their moment in the spotlight this November.
After months of preparation, coordination and training, the Fox Files news coverage of the 49th MDB and their vital strategic homeland defense mission was documented.
In July, Cyd Upson, a Fox Files news representative contacted the U.S. Army Pacific Command Public Affairs Office requesting an interview and tour of the Fort Greely Missile Defense Complex. The combined interview and tour is scheduled to run multiple times in the future on the Fox News Channel to give their viewers a chance to experience the preparation that goes into protecting the nation against a ballistic missile attack.
The story will showcase Soldiers, and introduce the command's mission, capabilities, and the many responsibilities that fall within homeland defense.
"The planning was extensive but necessary to give the crew documented footage that will focus on how our Soldiers serve in and around the missile defense complex 24/7/365 to remain vigilant and ready to defend our country from a ballistic missile attack," said Lt. Col. Michael Hatfield, 49th MDB commander. "The visit covered a period of about two days and involved support from the Fort Greely Installation Public Affairs Office and Missile Defense Agency among a few.
"Their support was an integral part of making this visit a great success," he added. "With planning complete, the news team was presented with concepts that supported their intended theme, 'Three-hundred Soldiers protecting 300 million.'"
Fox News/Fox Files producer, Greg Johnson, along with Griff Jenkins, Fox correspondent, and their freelance news crew arrived early Nov. 14, despite icy fall season driving conditions, anxious to begin filming. Over the next two days, Soldiers from the 49th MDB and their mission were showcased in numerous interviews, briefings and presentations.
Before the visit, Soldiers and key leaders underwent media training. The training was provided by Maj. Mike Odgers, 49th MDB, and the installation public affairs office.
The main point of media training is to get the participant, in this case the Soldiers, comfortable interacting with the media. It can be a nerve-wracking experience and the more time the participant has in front of the camera doing "on camera" interviews the easier the process becomes.
Odgers said rehearsals or dry runs were also performed and judging on the success of the visit…well worth the extra effort.
"The interview practice portion of the media training gave the prospective interview subjects a chance to experience the pressure of being put on the spot as well as provide them an opportunity to practice and get more comfortable, or more accurately, less uncomfortable with a camera focused on them," said Odgers. "Few people get the opportunity to do on-camera interviews. And, even for those that do so regularly, it can be very intimidating."
Never having been to Alaska, Jenkins and Johnson witnessed the rugged environment and all that the Soldiers go through to maintain unit readiness despite the challenges that exist.
The news crew received an off-camera overview of key components of the Missile Defense Agency's role in support to the Warfighter as well as an on-camera interview provided by both Col. Edward Hildreth, 100th Missile Defense Brigade commander, and Hatfield, on their mission and Ground-based Midcourse Defense architecture.
Once the crew had a general concept of ground-based interceptors and the exo-atmosphere kill vehicle, they proceeded out to the missile defense complex. The tour of the MDC gave the news crew a first-hand look at a typical day-in-the-life of a 49th MDB Soldier to include one-on-one interviews with a military police unit. They covered aspects of job duties, training requirements, and the difficulties they faced living in an area so remote with extreme weather conditions.
Fox News was presented with opportunities to see a guard mount change, an unclassified GMD sys-tems trainer demonstration, a ride along with a military police patrol and a great look at what it is like for Soldiers living in Alaska while highlighting their strategic mission.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Christensen, 49th MDB. "We work so hard for so long it's nice to be recognized. It's been great. We have a tremendous amount of pride and camaraderie. 'Three hundred protecting 300 million'…it really is something to be extremely proud of."