By Cpl. Nnaemeka Onyeagwa, New York National GuardJuly 19, 2018
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. -- Three hundred and seventy New York Army National Guard Soldiers from 53rd Troop command military police, engineer and transportation companies used two weeks of training time and improved multi-million dollar facilities at Fort Indiantown Gap to expand their skills from July 7-21.
The four units training at Fort Indiantown Gap were:
-One hundred and thirty three Soldiers from the Buffalo, N.Y. based 105th Military Police Company.
-Seventy-four Soldiers from the Auburn N.Y. based 222nd Military Police Company.
-Forty-four Soldiers from the Camp Smith N.Y. based 1156th Engineer Company.
-One hundred and twenty three Soldiers from the New Winsor, N.Y., based 1569th Transportation Company.
Fort Indiantown Gap is an active National Guard training center and serves as headquarters for the Pennsylvania National Guard.
"We train to make us better," said Sgt. First Class Joshua Nowak, the senior gunner for the 222nd Military Police Company.
Nowak, a 20-year Soldier and Buffalo, N.Y., native, said he has seen plenty of changes and improvements to the training regimens over the past two decades.
"The training this summer has clearly been better than any we have had since I came to the unit 12 years ago; it's a progression that I am proud to be part of," Nowak said.
The 222nd Military Police Company was activated in 2005 as part of the 102nd Military Police Battalion. They deployed as a unit in 2013 to Qatar, and its Soldiers have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.
The 1156th Engineer Company used their experience from a year-long deployment to Kuwait and Iraq that ended September of last year to design the 2018 Annual Training plan they oversaw as evaluators, said 1st Lt. Douglas Leonard Peters the Executive Officer of 1156th Engineering Company.
Their recent real-world experience was beneficial to evaluating and providing feedback to Soldiers while running operational convoy lanes and using new virtual convoy trainers known as VCATs, Peters said.
"We are here to make sure standards are adhered to and expectations are meet", the Burn Hills, Saratoga County, N.Y. resident said. "My expectation is that we get 100 percent of the Soldiers through the lanes and the VCAT's ".
This year's training also provided the engineers with the 1156th the opportunity to test their readiness and efficacy as a company since it was split into three working groups last year: two groups drill at Camp Smith and the other in Kingston, according to unit leaders.
Sgt. Matthew Howard, a Utica, N.Y., resident, and an interior electrician with the 1156th Engineer Company with an added prior military police background, said he uses his experience in both jobs to help his unit.
"I use my knowledge to get our Soldiers certified, especially with the military police tasks." Howard said.
While the 105th Military Police Company focused on increasing their readiness level, they also used this time to integrate new Soldiers to the unit, according to Sgt. 1st Class Amanda Wheeler, the readiness noncommissioned officer for the company.
Thirty new Soldiers became part of the unit since the previous summer training through initial military entry and a change in military occupation. The unit had 15 Soldiers move on to new units and duty assignments, she explained.
"It's great to have seen the changes within the unit in the 16 years I have been here," said Wheeler, who is a Buffalo resident. "All the new, eager Soldiers are excited to show off what they already know and learn new skills."
Every year a National Guard unit's summer training allows its Soldiers to refresh their technical skills while giving newer Soldiers a chance to apply what they learned in to school to real life.
"These missions are slightly different from what I am used to, but they are designed to sharpen the basic skills of a military police officer," said Sgt. Andrew Robert Kinney, a military police officer with the 105nd Engineer Company.
Kinney, a resident of Niagara Falls, N.Y. and a 9-year veteran of the unit and an Iraq War veteran noted that this year's training has been very realistic; there have also been a lot of parallels with my deployments.
For the 1569th Transportation Company, this year's summer training was viewed as a challenge to not only meet but also exceed the growing expectations of the Army, Kinney said.
The unit moved 26 vehicles in a convoy: a combination of 1088 and 1098 family medium tactical vehicles and Humvees from their home station of New Windsor, N.Y, he added.
The logistics of transporting vehicles and equipment forms the first part of their training and mission as a premier trucking company.
"Our second mission is to achieve an enhanced level of readiness," said Capt. Nicolas Thomas Cardiello, a native of Bronx N.Y. and an Afghanistan war veteran. "We are getting better at what we do; it feels really good to come out and practice our jobs."
The 1569th Transportation Company is one of the units under the historic 369th 'Harlem Hell Fighters' Sustainment Brigade headquartered in Harlem, N.Y.
"I believe most of the goals of this annual training have been achieved. It's separated into three phases: crawl, walk, and run," said Sgt. Martin Bradley, truck driver with the 1569th.
Bradley, a 12-year military combat veteran with three deployments with the Army and Marines, said, "right now we are in the walk phrase, by next training we should be at the run phrase."
The tactical lanes at Fort Indiantown Gap are very similar to the theaters of conflict that the military has involved in recent times. It's easy to see why most units line up to train here in the summer, Bradley said.
"A last minute location change located us alongside of three other New York Army Guard units," Cpt. Nicolas Thomas Cardiello. "But, the benefit of working with our brother and sister units is immeasurable.