The 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 300th MI Brigade, conducted an evaluation exercise Aug. 20-21, 2022, for the Utah National Guard Response Force at the North Salt Lake Armory. During the exercise, Soldiers of the NGRF were trained and evaluated on their ability to perform crowd-control tactics and use non-lethal weapons.
“One of the jobs we have as a National Guard unit is to provide assistance to local law enforcement when needed,” said Warrant Officer 1 Rodrigo Miranda, a non-lethal weapons trainer with the 142nd MI. “We are providing training to our Soldiers this month in order to provide the best possible support to our local law enforcement partners when needed.”
The NGRF is a quick response security force composed of Utah National Guard Soldiers designed to augment law enforcement when directed by the governor. The force consists of approximately 300 Soldiers primarily from the 142nd MI, but can be augmented by other major commands if needed. The NGRF is designed to support local law enforcement to protect Utah communities, prevent human suffering, and prohibit property damage.
The 142nd MI Soldiers trained in crowd control, crowd dispersion, baton techniques, vehicle movement, emergency first-aid and communications. One major goal of the training is to ensure the NGRF has a strong presence to act as a deterrence when activated.
“When we stand in formation with our shields and riot gear, it's not necessarily to go out there and use the equipment but provide a show of force instead of having to use force,” said Miranda.
The culminating event of the weekend was the Oleoresin Capsicum or OC spray qualification. To qualify to use OC spray, a trainee must participate in classroom training followed by a practical exercise. During the practical exercise, a trainee gets sprayed in the eyes with OC spray and must engage two adversaries using baton techniques and drag a simulated casualty to safety. The purpose of the OC spray certification is to give the Soldier a personal understanding of its effects in case they must use it in a future scenario.
“We don't want our Soldiers using something that they don't know what the effects are going to be when they use it. We put them through the actual spray, and then they have to negotiate a lane which will give them confidence in case they are ever exposed to OC,” said Miranda.
The 142nd MI provided experienced Department of Defense certified non-lethal weapons instructors for the weekend training event. Officers from the Utah Highway Patrol were also there to provide oversight, evaluate the training and equipment, and ensure the training was in line with current UHP operating procedures.
“We are looking at the resources of the Utah National Guard and how they can best serve the citizens of Utah, and how we can best use them with the resources they have,” said Lt. Corey Nye, commander of special operations for the UHP. “So, it won’t matter if we end up deploying with a mixed squad of National Guard, Salt Lake City police, or Utah Highway Patrol, everyone can function and the commands are the same.
“We are focusing on showing them [the UHP] that we can do the job and that we are a viable force when it comes to needing our support,” said Miranda.