By Sgt. 1st Class Cecil Bundage, 5th Armored Brigade, Division WestNovember 20, 2012
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Trainers from Division West's 5th Armored Brigade have been tasked to ensure a North Dakota Army National Guard unit is ready to defend the nation's capital.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment were recently assessed by members of the 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery, Task Force Renegade, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West.
The initial assessment is the first event in a long list of readiness exercises and evaluations that occur over a 12-month period to prepare these Soldiers for a major role in defense of the National Capital Region in support of Operation Noble Eagle.
During their deployment, the 1-188th Soldiers will work alongside other state and Department of Defense agencies to prevent airborne threats from entering the National Capital Region.
"The major piece of any initial assessment is the training plan that is derived from this stage in the planning process," said Sgt. 1st Class Raul Gasca, Task Force Renegade observer controller/trainer. "This crucial phase will certainly keep this battalion on the right path as we move forward."
During the initial assessment, the Renegades assessed the Guard unit's capabilities in various areas, including staff operations, maintenance and crew drill training.
Task Force Renegade Soldiers not only assessed staff functions and critical areas for training, but served as trainers in the areas of crew drills, air defense artillery general knowledge, visual aircraft recognition, various engagement tables and standard tactics, and techniques and procedures which would later progress into live flight engagements.
Not only was this the first time that members of Task Force Renegade saw the North Dakota Air Defense Artillery crews execute their crew drills, but, for many in the 1-188th Battalion, this was their first time executing crew drills.
"Although many personnel in this unit have never executed this specific mission, I believe the unit will be successful due to the diligence of the unit's master gunners, as well as the willingness of every Soldier involved to want to be better at their current job and expand their knowledge base," said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Wilson, Renegade master gunner.
"Knowledge, expertise and experience are what master gunners bring to the table," Wilson continued. "The unit's master gunners were able to demonstrate every crew drill step-by-step as each crew watched. This helped bring up the confidence of the unit's crews, as well as show them that crew certification is possible."
The initial assessment continued with the evaluation of the Sentinel Radar System, which detects, tracks, identifies and reports airborne threats. The Sentinel Radar provides information about a hostile or friendly aircraft in the airspace to appropriate personnel so an accurate and timely decision can be made.
"These crews have to be on their 'A game' throughout these exercises," said Staff Sgt. Edgar Jimenez, Task Force Renegade observer controller/trainer. "If they forget or miss something, it could be life-threatening or catastrophic."