200th MPCOM public affairs unit pumps up the volume at weekend training

By Sgt. Michael ConnersMarch 22, 2013

200th MPCOM public affairs unit pumps up the volume at weekend training
Staff Sgt. Ronald Widerberg, with the 222nd Broadcast Operations Detachment, adjusts the mixing board at the unit's radio station Feb. 10, 2013. The 222nd BOD, located at the General George S. Patton U.S. Army Reserve Center in Bell, Calif., recently... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

BELL, Calif. -- Playing music for the enjoyment of others may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Army training, but that's exactly what one unit got to do during a recent battle assembly training weekend.

The Army Reserve's 200th Military Police Command's 222nd Broadcast Operations Detachment based in Bell, Calif., recently stood up a temporary, small radio station for the purposes of training and entertainment.

While some Soldiers sharpened their disc jockey skills, others -- including those from neighboring units in the same Army Reserve facility -- listened to the tunes through speakers in some of the rooms and patio area.

A BOD is one of four types of Army public affairs units and is unique only to the Army Reserve. The mission of a BOD is to establish and operate a radio and/or television broadcast facility. The 220th MPCOM has oversight of two of the four BODs in the force, and the commanding general of a command of more than 14,000 Soldiers knows the importance of public affairs and its role within his formations.

"Public affairs Soldiers have an incredible responsibility to tell the warfighter story," said Maj. Gen. Sanford Holman, commanding general of the 200th Military Police Command. "We are very fortunate to have the 205th Public Affairs Operation Center and their public affairs detachments within our ranks here. It is my job to make certain they have the best training, equipment and leadership to ensure success for our young Soldiers."

Holman said it's important to see young leaders taking imitative and developing realistic, current training.

"To see young NCOs taking charge and creating a radio station and practicing their skill sets during battle assembly weekend is exactly the type of leaders we want leading our formations," he said. "We are Soldiers first, but they are there to tell our story and bring the human element of the Army Reserve to the American people."

Public affairs detachments are small, mobile units that must be prepared to move on a moment's notice. One PA NCO said his job isn't sitting behind a desk in an office, but out with the Soldiers training or on a mission.

"You should be able to pick this up and go anywhere and perform any (radio) show that the Army requests," said Staff Sgt. Lloyd Shellenberger, assistant operations NCO for the 222nd BOD. "The mobility is the key."

Spc. Benjamin Soler, a broadcast journalist with the 222nd, also emphasized the importance of the training as preparation for future missions. He said the unit had been focusing on television broadcasting and had not set up a radio station in some time.

"We were able to pull resources together very quickly and set up something basically from scratch and have now gone through that initial adjustment period where we're figuring out what works and what doesn't," said Soler. "Now that we have our foundation, from here on out the broadcasts should only be getting better."

As DJs entertained Soldiers with sports, weather and public service announcements in addition to music, other less noticed hard work went into the technical set up of the station.

Together with Shellenberger, Staff Sgt. Mary Healy, the maintenance team chief for the 222nd BOD, tackled the difficult project head on.

"It has to be safety first with electronics, because someone could get hurt or equipment could be damaged if it's not handled properly," she said.

Thanks to a safe setup, Soldiers focused on the training and working as a team.

"What you take away from it is there are people who know certain things more than you do," he said. "Don't be afraid to ask and learn; help each other out. When you're in the radio booth, work together, work as a team."

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