By Story and photos by Spc. Kevin E. Marvig, 191st Military Police CompanyJune 22, 2010
RAPID CITY, S.D. - The 231st Brigade Support Battalion's Rear Detachment came to Camp Rapid in South Dakota with the 191st Military Police Company to help with their training by serving as "opposing forces," or "OPFOR." As OPFOR, the 231st Soldiers dress in the traditional clothing of another country and are either kind or hostile, depending on the situation or how the Soldiers react during each training scenario. Many of the North Dakota National Guard Soldiers call the OPFOR the unsung heroes of annual training.
In addition to serving as opposing forces, the 231st Battalion brought two Soldiers to run a fuel truck and travel to the long-distant training sites for fuel support. Spc. Whitney L. Brag and Spc. Kalli R. Thompson, both of Bismarck, N.D., served on the fueling team and established a fuel point for assisting the Soldiers taking part in the exercise, which is called Golden Coyote. Nearly 2,200 service members take part in the annual exercise put on by the South Dakota National Guard. Brag and Thompson said their job is a "social" one, since they have a chance to interact with so many different Soldiers as they stop for fuel.
A day for one of the opposing forces starts a lot like a day for any other Soldier - early! They are usually to the training lanes a half-hour to 45 minutes before the other Soldiers in order to get situated before the others come through.
I got to ride in a vehicle that had a simulated bomb inside of it. Shortly after the preparations, the driver took it down an approach and detonated the device, "killing" him and "injuring" two civilians that were walking by, but the convoy had a medic that came to help them and make sure they were taken care of before they continued down the road.
After that exercise, I hustled down the road to meet up with the next group. They were excited about what was going to happen, but never told me. The next thing I heard were semi-trucks rolling down the road and then the sound of roadside bomb simulators and small-arms fire; it was an ambush.
After that exercise, I grabbed my helmet and jumped in a truck on the way to my final destination for the day: Custer State Park, home of many things, such as buffalo, goats, donkeys, and the 231st Soldiers - OK, they don't really live there, but they've been there so many times in the past week I'm sure it feels like it. The opposing forces' main mission at this spot is to be as annoying as possible to try to make the Soldiers do something they shouldn't. They walked up to the trucks asking for things such as water and food, offered them goods and services and even jumped in the cab of a truck and honked the horn. The Soldiers didn't lose their cool; they just came, did their mission and left. What they didn't know was that the opposing forces had weapons in the grass along with a man wearing an explosive vest. If the Soldiers had gotten aggressive, the situation - albeit simulated - wouldn't have had such a good ending.
When Sgt. Tony W. Christensen, of Frazee, Minn., was asked what he thought about the training, he said "I like watching my troops excel. This also gives them a point of view for the enemy and what they might be thinking in a situation." Christensen serves with North Dakota's 231st Brigade Support Battalion.
The 191st Military Police would like to thank all of the Soldiers from the 231st that came and helped us with training.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 600 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas. With a total force of about 4,400 Soldiers and Airmen, sufficient forces remain in the state for emergency response and homeland defense.
High-resolution photos to accompany this release are available on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/ndguard. Navigate to the photo set titled "Golden Coyote 2010."