Florida National Guard prepares for Qatar security operations mission
March 29, 2013
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. -- Florida National Guard Soldiers are in the final training phase of the unit's mobilization. In a matter of weeks, they will deploy to Qatar to conduct security operations missions.
The unit recently participated in a culminating training exercise designed by Trainer/Mentors (TMs) assigned to the 177th Armored Brigade, First Army Division East.
Capt. Justin B. Baxter, native of Tampa, Fla., and Company Commander for Security Force Alpha, 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery is confident his Soldiers are ready to provide security force support in the area.
"Overall, the unit did outstanding in their battle tracking and execution of drills," said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony T. Coleman, Trainer/Mentor for 2nd Battalion, 410th Field Artillery Regiment, 177th Ar. Bde., First Army Division East.
"The medics and other personnel were very on point in the CASEVAC exercises," said Coleman. "Their awareness of the regulations and willingness to train for standard and not for time was very impressive."
The 3rd Bn, 116th FA accomplished pre-mobilization training thru monthly drills, as well as completing an additional 60 days of training in one year to prepare the battalion for their deployment. The battalion's Soldiers were successful at accomplishing the requirements before they arrived to Camp Shelby for post-mobilization training.
"The biggest challenge we faced was preparing for deployment in a short time frame," said Sgt. Thomas F. Lloyd III, native of Port Charlotte, Fla. "We started our pre-mobilization training early in 2012."
"We had a very short turn-around between training on the new weapon system to pre-mobilization," said Lloyd, who works in the operations section.
Prior to pre-mobilization training, the 3rd Bn, 116th FA accomplished weapons conversion training. A time consuming process, the battalion transitioned from a track vehicle M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System to the new M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). The M142 HIMARS is a medium tactical vehicle equipped to launch one to six rockets.
Baxter said the training has been successful and attributes that success to the members of the battalion.
"I am fortunate as a commander to have Soldiers with the battalion whom have been on multiple deployments," said Baxter. "Some I deployed to Iraq with in 2005, so I know them personally as well as professionally."
Baxter sees this experience a great benchmark for the lower enlisted Soldiers on their first deployment.
"This by far is a great introduction to what it is like to be deployed," said Baxter. "There are a lot of other hardships with a deployment than just the combat environment alone."
"The Soldiers experience being away from their families and not being engaged with their dependents at all times," he said.
First Army ensures mobilization training is relevant, realistic and reflects the most current conditions Soldiers will face in theater. First Army Division East directly supports the Chief of Staff of the Army's priority of providing trained, equipped and ready forces to win the current fight, while maintaining responsiveness for unforeseen contingencies.