By Sgt. 1st Class Bruce Cobbeldick
5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

FORT BLISS, Texas - Training brigade Soldiers here put the Puerto Rico National Guard's 544th Military Police Company through its paces, evaluating skills that protect the safety of host-nation citizens and their battle buddies.

Observer Coach/Trainers with 3rd Battalion "Desert Defenders," 362nd Armor Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, ensure units receive the tactical and technical skills needed under the one force, one fight premise.

"Some of our training objectives out here with these Guardsmen are to certify these warriors in conducting Fly-Away Security Training in terms of aviation assets both on the ground and in the air," said Sgt. 1st Class Javier Vara, an OPFOR member with the 204th Desert Defenders.

The training package that the OC/Ts and the 204th Desert Defenders led included telescopic baton training, managing a host of different situations with control and confidence, as well as aviation familiarization training, communication skills and techniques for de-escalating the public in safe and efficient ways.

The Desert Defenders led the day's training for the Guardsmen, where they learned how to listen and empathize with the citizenry, avoiding problems and run-ins if possible.

"Our particular mission is to train military police units who are bound for orders in the continental United States and Overseas. The topics we teach range from Post-Traumatic Stress to non-lethal weapons systems," said Vara.

"We have military policemen with the Puerto Rico National Guard out here who we will be attempting to certify with this unit to validate their abilities to apply the FAST methods for properly securing flight lines, which will qualify them to be on fly missions for two years on any aircraft within this area of responsibility in order to protect aviation assets in the air or on the ground," said Tech Sgt. William Mack, a member of the 204th Desert Defenders, who works with 3-362nd.

"We have conducted communication skills training that emphasize both verbal and non-verbal skills which play a big factor in these Soldiers' evaluations that we are doing today," Mack said.

"A little unknown fact is that our unit is comprised of both active duty and Reserve entities, within the 204th ourselves, so it brings a unique factor to the style of training that we do here that aligns with these Guard and Reserve Units," Mack continued.

FAST serves to protect aviation teams and aviation assets by giving learners the opportunity to hone their skills as military policemen, as the MP team members of 3-362nd with the Desert Defenders of the 204th join forces to pave the way for this Puerto Rico Guard unit to help the citizens of Honduras in the near future.