By Sgt. Christopher HernandezFebruary 14, 2019
MCGREGOR RANGE COMPLEX, N.M. -- Army National Guard Soldiers of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment, Green Bay, Wisconsin, performed guardian angel squad training exercises on Feb. 8-10, 2019, McGregor Range Complex, New Mexico.
The U.S. military created the guardian angel program in 2012, tailored to counteract green-on-blue (insider) attacks on American troops and NATO allies during their overseas mobilization. B Co., 2nd Bn., 127th Inf. Regt. has been designated for this role, preparing them to provide security for advisors and allies against lethal opposition.
"The concept is that we're the immediate security," said 1st Lt. Daniel Schultz, a platoon leader for B Co., 2nd Bn., 127th Inf. Regt. "We secure, provide, and use immediate force protection in areas where the actual KLEs [key leader engagements] are happening."
In addition to rapid security response, guardian angel Soldiers must also be adept in heuristics. In that regard, the Soldiers trained on recognizing telltale indicators in people and being cognizant to their cultural idiosyncrasies.
By enhancing these analytical techniques, the Soldiers can mitigate crisis situations in order to resolve conflicts whilst satisfying mission objectives.
"We have a lot of former and current police officers in our unit, and with their role, they help bring a lot to the individual correspondence between Afghans and us because they're good at reading people," said Pfc. Mikko Waino, an infantryman for B Co., 2nd Bn., 127th Inf. Regt. "There is obviously a language barrier between the Afghan people and us, so with that, we're able to know signs or things that they do that'll help us understand them more, and we will be able to develop better relationships with them."
Guardian angel elements usually operate in tandem with their Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) counterparts in advise and assist missions, which necessitate joint training exercises with each other.
"Some of the 2nd SFAB Soldiers from Fort Bragg came in for our first joint training together," said Staff Sgt. Ricardo Anderson, a squad leader for B Co., 2nd Bn., 127th Inf. Regt. "The training was phenomenal, and it was completely different from anything that we've ever encountered before. As for our guys, they're really receptive and want to learn from this since this is all new for us."
Another critical part of their training regimen is close quarters combat (also known as short-range marksmanship), relevant to the unit's hypothetical scenarios while deployed overseas.
"Short-range marksmanship is focused on the M9 and M4 about 25 meters and in," Schultz said. "It was really good to be able to go through everyone's marksmanship development and learn how they have to set up their kit, or how we have to position themselves in an environment to put an enemy down if we have to."
Waino echoes Schultz's sentiments, highlighting the criticality of CQC in confined spaces.
"With our job as guardian angels, that close-range marksmanship is paramount because we may have two individuals standing two feet apart and we [need] to be able to handle a threat in any scenario with only minimal distance between us," Waino said.
Given the short timeframe for their readiness, proficiency is key.
"I want them to feel confident in their abilities to stop a threat," Schultz said. "It's about getting those [junior enlisted Soldiers] comfortable in where they'll recognize the heuristics of the room ... and if a situation does pop up, they need to feel confident in their training in order to eliminate threats."
The Soldiers of B Co., 2nd Bn., 127th Inf. Regt. will continue to train and hone their skills here, awaiting their eventual departure into their theater of operations.
As Anderson puts it, complacency can have a negative impact. Hence, he stresses that the key to success is to be continuously adaptive to any situation, regardless of conditions.
"I told them what to expect, and to not get their hopes up over a lot of things," Anderson said. "It's never what they would expect to happen, and to always plan for the worst."