In the absence of a public affairs officer, UPARs work closely with their commanders at the unit level. They serve as representatives of the public affairs office and offer information on public affairs regulations, policies, media facilitation, and social media and other relevant Internet-based capabilities.
"As public affairs officers, we can't go to every single unit, every single event, so, the UPARs will get down to the unit level, squad, company level, battalion level and get that story and be able to, with our assistance, get that story out, be able to publish and produce their story, their event" said Maj. Melodie Tafao, the 305th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment Commander.
"The 9th Mission Support Command is a unique reserve command because it is geographically dispersed. We have Japan and Korea, Guam and all the way up to Alaska and all of the units in Hawaii. So, having those UPARs be present in their respective units in their respective locations and giving that information to the command will be essential in getting our story told", added Tafao.
Most direct reporting units subordinate to the 9th MSC, were represented at the training. These commander appointed Soldiers represented most enlisted ranks, as well as both company and field grade officers with an interest in writing and photography.
The UPAR training program is designed to provide a basic foundation in media engagement, photography and video, and social media best practices. In addition, they will serve as an advisor to their commander and as a link to higher echelon public affairs professionals.
"The UPAR is important for three reasons; promotes the morale of the unit, supports recruiting and retention and tells the Army Reserve story" said William Nutter, 9th MSC Division Public Affairs Officer.
As part of 9th MSC Commanding General's command philosophy,"Readiness for Today" means being ready to fight. UPAR training enhances this readiness. After the first day, Sgt Kayla Alexander from the 4960th Multi-Functional Training Brigade said the classes covered "A lot of information, but it's good information."
"It's a bit of a time crunch in two days," Alexander added.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing after they complete the course what sort of products that they are going to be sending in, what kinds of questions they may have and what kinds of things we could work to do better telling the story of the US Army Reserve in the Pacific" said 1st Sgt. Crista Mack, 1st Sgt., 305th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.
"By training UPARs in the basics of journalism, photography and social media they are able to increase the engagement they have with Soldiers in their unit and a variety of audiences off of the installation," said Capt. Ramee Opperude, public affairs officer, 305th MPAD.
"The value in gathering a group of individuals who are going to tell the unit story and the story of the U.S. Army Reserve cannot be understated; I look forward to all of the great content these leaders will begin producing in the near future", Opperude added.
With the addition of over 15 trained unit public affairs representatives, the 9th MSC has increased their ability to tell the unit story and that of the U.S. Army in the Indo-Pacific region.