By Staff Sgt. Kayla Morris | 129th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentMarch 30, 2017
SEOUL, South Korea -- Members of the South Dakota Army National Guard's 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment honed their public affairs skills while training during the Key Resolve exercise March 12-23 in the Republic of Korea.
The exercise provided 12 members of the Rapid City-based unit with realistic training opportunities that support the mission of a public affairs detachment.
The 129th trained alongside Eighth Army public affairs staff during the multinational training exercise that enhances U.S. and ROK forces' operational capabilities to increase alliance readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.
"The purpose of the exercise is for Soldiers to focus on why they're here and also on the mission," said Sgt. Maj. Chris Seaton, sergeant major for Eighth Army Public Affairs Office. "This is the way we refine our processes. We've got a plan in place for how we will fight if there is a crisis or contingency that we have to get involved with."
The command post exercise provides for scenarios that may occur for military forces on the Korean Peninsula. Those participating include ROK allies as well as U.S. components of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.
"Key Resolve provided the unit with an opportunity to train overseas on our mission essential and key collective tasks while operating at a multinational, joint-service component level," said Maj. Anthony Deiss, commander of the 129th MPAD.
Deiss said the unit was able to interact and function with their active-duty counterparts at a strategic level and integrate into operational processes involving real-world scenarios.
"We were able to facilitate a media operations center, issue public affairs guidance, provide news media and press conference training for key leadership," said Deiss. "We also developed press releases, video news segments, social media messaging, tracked media embeds on the battlefield and provided daily media analysis. These are some of the core functions an MPAD needs to be able to do."
For the unit to perform effectively, it takes Soldiers who are trained and competent. Experiences such as Key Resolve allow Soldiers to train and refine their skills in a high-paced operational environment.
"Working with other staff sections while at Key Resolve gave us the opportunity to coordinate with somebody who is a subject matter expert," said Spc. Allison Blume, 129th broadcast journalist. "They want to get their message across and know that public affairs is the way to do it."
Members of the unit also received valuable training by developing professional relationships with active-duty public affairs personnel, as well as Korean augmentees to the United States Army. "Eighth Army staff and the KATUSA's have helped integrate us into the fast-paced operational environment," said Spc. Carl Johnson, 129th print journalist. "They have been very accommodating and are hard-working."
The integration into and support of an active-duty unit allowed the 129th Soldiers to test their abilities at a pace that pushed them above their limits. "The Soldiers performed exceptionally well, and I was impressed to see them work effectively at a corps or field army level," said Deiss. "These men and women are operating above their pay grade in this environment."
Through participation in the exercise, Eighth Army and 129th leadership are confident the unit is prepared to perform their state and federal mission.
"The 129th has been one of the best units that I've seen getting off the plane and jumping right into the mission," said Seaton. "They have been one of the best at being able to effectively communicate, work as a team and integrate with an active-duty unit. They should be very proud of that."
"This is a great training opportunity and a chance for us to exercise our operational processes," said Deiss. "With the experience gained, we will continue to refine our best practices to communicate and shape messaging on the home front or the battlefield."