By Crista Mary MackMarch 5, 2019
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF - RICHARDSON, Alaska - When Army Reserve and National Guard units mobilize and deploy, Soldiers don't just put on their uniforms and head into combat. Instead, units like the 196th Infantry Training Brigade and the 3301st Mobilization Support Battalion train and prepare them for Active Duty in very specific jobs.
One such specialized mobilization training and validation underway is that of the Alaska Army National Guard Military Police Company based in Wasilla, Alaska, where a National Guard military police company is trained and prepared for their upcoming deployment to the Central Command region by Active, Reserve and Guard Forces, with the Air Force assisting as well.
The 297th are mobilizing three different elements to go to the CENTCOM region, a Law and Order detachment and two Protective Services Detachment.
"Second battalion 196th is the training support battalion for the State of Alaska, so we are the Active Duty trainers for the Reserve and National Guard members in the state of Alaska," said Lt. Col. Jeff Noll, commander, 2nd Battalion, 196th Infantry Brigade. "That's actually codified in U.S. law, title 11 of the U.S. Authorization act, which was passed following the Gulf War, and establishes the role of Active Duty in Reserve and National Guard training."
One specification of that code is mobilization. So when a Reserve or National Guard unit prepares to deploy, the Active component training support battalion, in this situation, the 2nd Battalion of the 196th, has an active role in training and validating them for deployment.
LAW AND ORDER
For the Law and Order Detachment, deploying to serve as the military police force at U.S. military installations, the training is law enforcement focused.
"They are conducting some law enforcement training lanes about situations, everything from Soldiers losing their ID cards and vehicles being pulled over for speeding all the way up to things like theft and assault," Noll said.
Capt. Robert Humphrey, senior aviation advisor, 2nd Battalion 196th Infantry Bde and Officer in Charge of the Law and Order Det. has an aviation background, and therefore had to overcome the challenge of incorporating subject matter experts into the training.
"Because of the structure of the Alaska National Guard, they are heavy in Aviation and Infantry, so our 16-person battalion is built around that structure," Humphrey said. "Not having a military police officer in our battalion to help us structure this training appropriately, we reached out to Fort Bliss, to the MP schoolhouse at Ft Leonardwood, as well as the 548th MP detachment here on JBER, 728th MP Battalion in Hawaii and with the 673rd Security Forces here on JBER to help us facilitate this training appropriately."
Individual experts flew in and integrated themselves into the training as observer controllers and advisors.
"When they came to us from Hawaii, from Ft. Wainwright, from Ft. Leonardwood, we fully integrated them with the team," Humphrey said. "It's really their expertise with the training plan that we've designed that allows this to function properly. These guys have the subject matter expertise, time and experience performing missions as an MP, it allows them to properly observe and control throughout the training."
The first eight days were classroom instruction, on basic individual police tasks, radar refresher, and similar, according to Humphrey. Afterwards, more of an individual and collective training culminating with events demonstrating their ability to perform police operations when they get to Kuwait. The next week focuses on the 297th conducting ride alongs and on the job training at JBER, thanks to invitations from the U.S. Air
JBER is an Air Force controlled installation, so the security forces at JBER fall under the U.S. Air Force 673rd Air Forces Squadron, who are giving the 297th MPs the opportunity to do ride along on the job training with post police prior to deployment.
"A lot of the Soldiers are civilian police officers in their civilian capacity, but a lot them also are very junior and haven't done basic police tasks such as apprehending a subject, pulling over a speeding motorist, things of that nature, so this gives us an opportunity to get everyone back in the mentality of being a law enforcement officer and we put them through individual scenarios and collective training events to see how they operate as a unit, a refresher before they deploy from private all the way up to company commander," Humphrey said.
"This has gotten them into the mentality of we are deploying and operating as police officers. We are doing PMO lanes and simulations training, they are doing the miler training, putting them into scenarios, how to use or not use lethal force appropriately," Humphrey said.
The 297th MP Co. is also mobilizing two Protective Services Detachments. These are Soldiers who are going to provide security for senior level officials travelling around the CENTCOM region."
"That training consists of itineraries for general officers moving around," Noll said. " It is here on JBER but simulating the way generals circulate the battlefield in CENTCOM. The protective services detachments have to develop a plan, recon the areas and protect those principles as they move around the area."
"We're putting their skills to the test and we are validating them. The validation team is coming in from outside entities is," Capt. Christian Botero, 2nd Battalion, 196th Inf. Bde. and officer in charge of the PSD team.
Three Active Duty Army Military Police, specialized trainers from Guam, Fort Leonardwood, and Fort Bliss, ensure that these Soldiers get specific technical training from seasoned military police professionals. And the mission is simultaneously supported by the 3301st Mobilization Support Battalion, an Army Reserve unit who mobilize in order to help other units mobilize.
"The way ahead for the 196th is that we here as a battalion stand ready to deploy and mobilize any unit that the Alaska National Guard has," Botero said. "We demonstrated our capacity to prep and mobilize a unit for which we took outside entities and brought all the resources together and thus produce. We can bring all the resources together to best produce a product that will validate any units the Alaska National Guard has to offer."
"We received a tremendous amount of support from outside the 196th and Master Sgt. Lussi and I could not have done it alone," Botero said. "We have all the ADP and ADRPs to do it but without the realistic input from our MPs we wouldn't have the training as realistic as it is."
Additional support from the 3301st Mobilization Battalion, an Army Reserve unit that mobilized themselves in order to facilitate all aspects of the mobilization of the 297th, were an integral part of the mission.
Lt. Col. Minarico Santiago, commander of the 3301st and the 3301st Mobilization team have mobilized multi-component efforts to ensure the assist all of the logistics of this mobilization.
"We activated the CMFGI, the Contingency Mobilization Force Generation Platform, and coordinating with the Air Force ... managing, transportation, lodging, communications, any items needed for the mission also for the 196th, that they have all their equipment needed for the training," Santiago said. "The greatest part is the partnership we have with the Air Force leadership, they have been providing all the necessary equipment and much more. Some of the trainings are to our advantage to learn how to mobilize others, and this team has done a great job in learning, and we are developing our Standard Operating Procedures, and it's a great experience for the 3301st Wolfpack."
All these entities join together as one consolidated team, all with one intent, to train and prepare the 297th MPs for their upcoming deployment.
"There are a lot of different agencies involved in this mobilization, especially here on JBER. You've got U.S. Air Force agencies, Army Reserve, Active Duty," Noll said. "So bringing that team of people together has really gone extremely well. We've got people here from Hawaii, Texas, Fairbanks, all over, pulling together to make this happen."