HERMISTON, Ore., Sept. 19, 2011 -- Suddenly, gunshots ring out from behind a dirt mound and the sound of casualties screaming out in pain fills the air. As quickly as Soldiers started going down in the hot afternoon sun, squad leaders assess their ranks to figure out who survived and who needs immediate medical treatment.
Luckily, all of this is part of a training exercise put on by the Pre-Mobilization Training Assessment Element, or PTEA, for the Soldiers of the 1186th Military Police Company, Oregon Army National Guard, who are currently in the process of completing a pre-mobilization training, at the Umatilla Chemical Depot, Hermiston, Ore.
Although this will not be their only stop before heading to Afghanistan later this year, the pre-mobilization training offered at Umatilla Chemical Depot gives the Soldiers an in-depth view of what to expect during their mobilization process and their tour to Afghanistan.
"You never know how you will react when faced with a situation in combat," said Spc. Erin Drews, a driver with the Military Police Company. "I think we are well prepared, we have very good instructors."
During the roughly one-month training, the Soldiers of the 1186th are becoming familiar with their crew-serve weapons, like the M-240B machine gun, as well as spending a lot of time on firing ranges to hone their skills on their individual weapons in various scenarios including firing in the pitch-black night.
"I feel pretty confident, the PTEA is doing a good job." said Spc. Shawn May, military police officer with the 1186th. "Were doing some good night fire on the ranges, over all the training is pretty good."
The Soldiers, are also learning how to identify improvised explosive devices and properly report what was found, how to handle and use explosives, and how to manage an entry control point, or ECP, which manages who can get onto base.
"Even though were doing the required stuff, my squad leaders and I are putting an MP flavor on the training," said Maj. Jack Guillentine Jr., commander of the 1186th MP Company. "When were doing the ECP lane we are conducting convoy security to get out to the lane."
The 1186th has a unique opportunity during their mobilization process. The MPs are able to complete a lot of their training while still in Oregon. Although this does not eliminate the mobilization training in another state, the pre-mobilization training will give their Soldiers an upper hand when going through the mobilization station next month.
"We can take that year that we have right before we deploy and start knocking out our Army warrior tasks and battle drills," said Staff Sgt. Engle, squad leader, 1186th MPs. "It makes it so we only spend a couple of months away from our families before going into harm's way."
During the month-long training, employers of the citizen-Soldiers were given the opportunity to come onto Umatilla Chemical Depot for a day and participate in training similar to what their employees have gone through in the previous weeks.
"We bring the employers out to see what their Soldiers are doing while training for their mobilization," said Steven Forster, representative for Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, the organization that coordinates the program. "It shows the employers all the hard work their Soldiers are doing getting ready for the mobilization."
While training with their soldiers, the employers participated in an overview of military life, an in-depth look into what the Soldiers mission in Afghanistan will be like, live-fire ranges with the Soldiers' individual weapons, and conducted a military convoy to and from the training facility.
"It is absolutely amazing, the amount of training and effort that is necessary to keep us safe is outstanding," said Steve Greagor, director of City of Hillsboro Parks and Recreation. "I think this is very critical. It provides us with a better opportunity to understand what service is like for those who haven't had the opportunity to serve ourselves."