National Guard June 2012 : Page 38

STATE ROUNDUP True Grit Army National Guard teams earn third, fifth in this year’s Best Ranger Competition wo pairs of army National Guard soldiers finished in the top five in the grueling 29th annual Best ranger Competition at fort Benning, Ga. The team of staff sgt. Matthew Ma-diar, an illinois army Guardsman, and sgt. 1st Class Zach phillips, an oregon army Guardsman, placed third out of 38 T 50 elite teams of soldiers in the three-day test of mental and physical stamina april 13 to 15. another Guard pair, Capt. robert Killian, of the Colorado army Guard, and 1st Lt. Nicholas plocar, of the wis-consin army Guard, took fifth place. The third-place finish for Madiar and phillips is the best-ever result for a Guard team. on the first day of competition, con-testants completed a three-mile buddy run that transitioned into a 15-mile foot march, which was followed by an obstacle course. The teams flew by helicopter to an urban assault course. Both Guard teams finished the day in the top five. only 34 teams remained after the first day of endurance events. “i was physically and mentally ex-hausted after the Darby Queen obsta-cle course,” phillips said. “That was the | National Guard

State Roundup

True Grit

Army National Guard teams earn third, fifth in this year’s Best Ranger Competition

TWo pairs of army National Guard soldiers finished in the top five in the grueling 29th annual Best ranger Competition at fort Benning, Ga.

The team of staff sgt. Matthew Madiar, an illinois army Guardsman, and sgt. 1st Class Zach phillips, an oregon army Guardsman, placed third out of 50 elite teams of soldiers in the three day test of mental and physical stamina april 13 to 15.

Another Guard pair, Capt. Robert Killian, of the Colorado army Guard, and 1st Lt. Nicholas plocar, of the wisconsin army Guard, took fifth place.

The third-place finish for Madiar and phillips is the best-ever result for a Guard team.

On the first day of competition, contestants completed a three-mile buddy run that transitioned into a 15-mile foot march, which was followed by an obstacle course. The teams flew by helicopter to an urban assault course.

Both Guard teams finished the day in the top five. Only 34 teams remained after the first day of endurance events.

“i was physically and mentally exhausted after the Darby Queen obstacle course,” phillips said. “That was the One and only time I questioned if I was going to make it to the end.”

The second day began with timed, skill events. The high-stress shoot at the Krilling Range was one of the most successful events, Madiar said. It consisted of moving a stretcher with a simulated casualty through the 500-yard course with periodic stops at various ranges to fire five vintage rifles at steel and six-inch targets.

The big test of the day was the Tri- Tower Challenge, where competitors climbed a 60-foot wall, a 30-foot collapsible ladder and a 20-foot knotted rope, rappelling down in between each climb.

The team of Plocar and Killian set the course record with a time of 6 minutes, 32 seconds.

“Back’s a little stiff,” Plocar said during a meal break on the second day.
“No mistakes today. Hopefully, that will put us right where we want to be.”

The second night included a six-hour orienteering course, which was the most challenging event, Madiar said.

Day Three consisted of water events. In one, competitors jumped with rucksacks and weapons from an UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter into a pond, then swam 100 meters to shore.

Still wet from the Helocast, competitors went straight to the water confidence test, where they were required to complete the log walk/rope drop obstacle before moving to execute the suspension-traverse event.

In the event, known locally as the “Slide for Life,” competitors held onto a pulley while sliding from a 75-foot tower, then dropped into the pond and swam to shore.

Once completed, both Guard teams were airlifted to start the timed leadership skills event where Madiar and Phillips came out about 2 1/2 minutes quicker then Plocar and Killian.

“When it came time, we did everything Exactly the way we practiced and it worked out well for us,” Phillips said.

The final event of the day was the three-mile buddy run. Plocar and Killian won the stage, with Madiar and Phillips just a few places back.

“All I was worried about was just finishing,” Madiar said. “We weren’t tracking the standings because they changed so much.”

The two teams were the only Guard Teams to qualify. The competitors said they spent 10 weeks training specifically on the events of the competition.

And while they were happy with their finish, Madiar and Phillips both said they would like to compete again next year, as long as they are partners.

“If it works out, we can capitalize on our success and come back a little stronger and smarter next year,” Phillips said.


Big Planning: Drill Preps Guard For Coming Hurricane Season

A rehearsal-of-concept drill is often called a ROC drill because the execution portion is often accomplished with a map drawn in the dirt with rocks representing units and soldiers.

During a late-April event in Montgomery, Ala., to prepare for a May hurricane-response exercise, Alabama National Guardsmen blew up the ROC drill concept with a massive map of the state that was 40 feet wide and 85 feet long.

Soldiers used placards to show where their respective units would provide a particular asset at a particular time during response as a four-foot wide hurricane approached and then landed on the map.

The giant map represented not only places and units, but also symbolized the importance Alabama now places on hurricane response preparation.

“A hurricane will always be the No.1 threat to Alabama,” said Jeff Byard, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency executive operations officer, who was on hand to observe the ROC drill.

The event covered prehurricane season activities, from hurricane approach through landfall and beyond.

The practice ensured that Guardsmen fully understand the response plan at all levels and synchronize actions from the joint-force headquarters level down to the unit level in response to a hurricane.

Members of U.S. Northern Command, the U.S. military’s command responsible for North America, were also on hand, including Maj. Gen. Charles Gailes of the Alabama Guard, now the commander of NORTHCOM’s Task Force 51.

These rehearsals and exercises are key to mission success and are “the reason we did so well last year with the tornadoes,” said Maj. Gen. Perry G. Smith, the Alabama adjutant general.

Even though this rehearsal was for hurricanes, the preparations, coordination and many of the missions are the same for most disasters that may face the state, Smith said.

Hurricane season along the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico officially begins each year on June 1.


Airman Receives Silver Star For Actions in Afghanistan

A member of the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron was awarded the Silver Star during a ceremony May 6 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Tech. Sgt. Tavis Delaney, a joint terminal attack controller, received the honor for his actions during the Battle of Do Ab in Afghanistan on May 25,2011.

Brief helmet cam video of Delaney during the battle can be viewed at

He earned the award by repeatedly putting himself in danger to call in air strikes on Taliban fighters who held the high ground.

Delany’s commendation states that his actions “saved the lives of more than 64 coalition forces, and contributed to the destruction of more than 200 Taliban insurgents.” For more than seven hours, the Taliban battled U.S. and Afghan soldiers.

During that time, Delaney “bravely stood upright” as bullets and rockets rained down to establish communications with overhead aircraft and call in coordinates for bomb strikes.

In the video, Delaney calls for an air strike to help flush out Taliban soldiers who had taken the high ground.He also gives some bold advice to the Army officer.

“We need to take that frickin’ hill or we’re going to play this game all day.
You want to run up there with me?After this bomb goes off, just charge [up]? We got to. You guys want to go?” he asks.

“We are incredibly proud of Tech.Sergeant Delaney and the 116th ASOS,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenberg, the Washington adjutant general. “Time after time, they have Been the decisive difference on the battlefield, and Tech. Sergeant Delaney is deserving of this high honor.”

Delaney and about 20 members of the squadron deployed to Afghanistan from March to July 2011.


Helping Hands in Guatemala: Guardsmen Enlarge Town Clinic

The 188th Fighter Wing does more than just fly jets.

Airmen with the 188th Civil Engineering Squadron (CES), which falls under the 188th Mission Support Group of the 188th Fighter Wing, helped construct a key addition to the Centro de Salud medical clinic this spring in Tactic, Guatemala.

The 188th civil engineers were in the Central American nation as part of Beyond the Horizon 2012, a joint foreign military, humanitarian and civic assistance mission led by U.S. Army South.

They deployed three teams in two week increments, spending most of their time constructing a 1,500-square foot structure at the clinic that will function as a women’s clinic and includes four exam rooms, one lab, three bathrooms, a maternity ward and a waiting room.

“We’re doubling the size of the facility,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Ites, site project manager and a member of the Missouri Army National Guard’s 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, while he was overseeing the project.

The Centro de Salud clinic has been open for more than 20 years, but lack of space has hampered its ability to provide care for the local community.

Hugo Hernandez, the clinic’s director, said the clinic has assumed a 24-hour operating schedule, which has helped to triple patient admittances since 2009.
He estimated that 25 percent of all Tactic citizens are now born at his clinic.

“Last year, we only had three beds,” Hernandez said. “To get this project done locally, especially this big and this quickly, would be very difficult.”

Ites said in April that the 188th CES would supply the bulk of the workforce and would be responsible for the majority of the site’s progress.

The entire Beyond the Horizon mission, which runs through July, includes the construction of multiple schools and medical clinics.


Polish President Visits Illinois, Presents Medals to Guardsmen

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Maj.Gen. William L. Enyart, the Illinois adjutant general, welcomed Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski to Marseilles Training Center, Ill., late last month, where they visited with Illinois soldiers and Polish officers.

The Illinois soldiers and Polish officers were conducting joint training as part of their military and civilian partnership through the State Partnership Program.

Komorowski presented Quinn and Enyart with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, an honor that is bestowed upon foreigners for distinguished contributions to international cooperation with Poland.

He also presented 13 other Illinois Guardsmen with the award.

“We welcome President Komorowski to Illinois and thank him for the continued economic and military partnership with our state and the Illinois Army National Guard,” Quinn said. “This visit is a show of solidarity and support for our troops, and a testament to the great friendship that we have with Poland. I am honored to accept the Commander’s Cross with Illinois’ outstanding service members.”

The visit by the Polish dignitaries coincided with the NATO Summit, which took place in Chicago.

“It was important for President Komorowski to see what training happens here in Illinois before his soldiers deploy to a combat zone with Illinois Army National Guard soldiers,” Enyart said.

“We truly value the great relationships we have developed with Poland since 1993 and today’s visit only enhanced those relationships.”

The Guard members honored with the Commander’s Cross included Brig.Gen. Johnny Miller, Col. Albert Cox, Lt. Col. Drew Dukett, Lt. Col Joseph Schweickert, Maj. Eric Davis, Maj.Stanley Manes, Capt. Andrew Adamczyk, Capt. Douglas Coop, Master Sgt. Richard Schap, Master Sgt. Terry Martin, Master Sgt. David Ray, Sgt. 1st Class Ryanzo Perez and Sgt. 1st Class Michael Markham.


Guard’s First F-35 Pilots Ready To Take Flight, Make History

When military aviators of the future look back at the beginning of the F-35 Lightning II program, they may see the names of two Florida Air National Guard pilots listed among the first to fly the Air Force’s fifth-generation fighter jet.

Lt. Col. Randal Efferson and Maj.Jay Spohn are the only Guard pilots assigned to the 33rd Operations Group at Eglin Air Force Base, and they’ll soon be taking to the skies to master the Joint Strike Fighter.

Once trained, Efferson and Spohn will help develop the training and standards for other F-35 pilots as the aircraft are integrated into the Air Force’s fleet.

“It is a huge accomplishment,” Efferson said, noting that they will be among the first 100 pilots to fly the Air Force’s newest fighter jet. “We’ve been working for the past two years to get to this point, and just on May 3 we were issued clearance to fly initial cadre pilots [non-test pilots].”

Spohn will be the fifth member of the 33rd to fly the F-35, and the second to train at Eglin; about three months later, Efferson will be the 10th military cadre pilot to fly.

Before becoming fully qualified as instructor pilots, they will each have to complete five instructional sorties and one evaluation flight.

The initial flights for the F-35 pilots will be focused on learning the basic aircraft systems without weapons and finding out what it takes to maintain them.

“It is the first building block of many that will eventually bring the jet to initial operational capability,” Spohn said. “This is ‘no kidding’ the very first step in getting to that point.”


Guardsmen Provide Security While Farmers Inoculate Sheep

The 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s primary responsibility in Afghanistan is to help develop the Afghan National Police force, but last month some unit members completed a mission not normally associated with law enforcement.

Soldiers from the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry, Task Force Viking, used their expertise in providing security to assist in an Afghan-led project to inoculate more than 20,000 sheep over two days north of the city of Kunduz.

The project was a collaborative effort among the Afghan director of agriculture, irrigation and livestock, the commander of the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP), the U.S. advisors to the police, the U.S. Department of Agriculture adviser and the Kuchi Peace Ambassador.

The sheep belonged to the Kuchi tribe, a national nomadic tribe of Afghanistan.

Capt. Jennifer Pacurari, the civil military Operations officer for Task Force Viking, played a large part in bringing the group together.

“Meeting on [Forward Operating Base] Kunduz provided a secure location to do business,” Pacurari said.“Many of the Afghans attending the meeting had never been to our FOB so it was an opportunity to extend hospitality to our Afghan friends.”

Before the inoculation, all parties met to agree on the mission specifics.Security responsibility fell to the Afghan police and their U.S. advisors.In a truly combined operation, the Afghan police and their advising team went through the detailed planning process to ensure all parties remained safe while conducting the inoculations.

Capt. Jeremy Prince, the operations officer for the advising team, said, “I have been impressed by the operations conducted by the ANCOP since I started this advising mission. But working with the planning staff for this project really gave me a new level of respect for their professionalism.”


Guardsmen Still on the Mission One Year After Joplin Tornado

Within hours of the devastating Joplin tornado on May 22, 2011, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon activated the National Guard and promised that they would remain on duty as long as needed.

One year later, the Guard still remains on mission in the southwest Missouri town as rebuilding continues, said Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, the Missouri adjutant general.

“When the Missouri National Guard says we will stay as long as needed, we mean it,” Danner said. “Since day one, we’ve worked alongside the people of Joplin to help this community respond, recover and rebuild.”

On the night the tornado struck, members of the Joplin-based 203rd Engineer Battalion worked search and rescue in the central disaster zone.Within days, military police and infantry and aviation units joined in the state emergency duty.

At the height of the response, nearly 400 Missouri Guardsmen were on duty.

They worked checkpoints, performed roving security patrols and assisted with establishing a mobile medical facility for use by the staff of St. John’s Mercy Hospital in Joplin.

Nixon later had the Missouri Guard perform state oversight over the federal debris-removal program in Joplin and nearby Duquesne.

The Guard provided 45 personnel and developed debris-clearance tracking mechanisms; liaised with municipal, state and federal partners; and resolved various property issues.

This effort continues in 2012, but by late 2011, the program had resulted in the removal of more than 1.5 million cubic yards of debris in Joplin and Duquesne.

The Missouri National Guard has also been assisting the Department of Workforce Development with the Missouri Disaster Recovery Jobs Program for Jasper and Newton counties.

The program creates temporary Jobs to aid in the cleanup of public areas and restoration as a result of the disaster. Jobs include debris removal and restoration of public facilities and rights of way.

More than 1,502 civilians have been temporarily employed through the program. Currently, 15 citizen soldiers serve the Disaster Recovery Jobs Program as part of the Guard’s Task Force Phoenix.


Senior Leaders Stand Aside, Let Junior NCOs Learn by Doing

The training scenario for Joint Task Force 71 was terrifying yet textbook: A small plane crashed near the University of Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, but not before dispensing an unknown liquid on parts of the city.

JTF-71, which was training at a nearby water treatment facility during its annual training in late April, did what it would in an actual emergency— provided command and control for the Texas National Guard units that are specially trained and equipped to respond to such an incident.

But instead of senior leaders taking control of the operation, they passed their roles to junior enlisted leaders in the unit.

“I have young soldiers—young specialists and young sergeants— who, in some cases, have two deployments under their belts, so they’re in no way inexperienced. So, we’re pushing them to the front, letting them lead, letting them learn, and it’s been great,” said Col. Lee Schnell, the JTF-71 commander.

Junior leaders showed their moxie throughout the exercise as they quickly took their new roles to heart.

“It gave me a little bit extra before I step up to the next rank so it pretty much put me in a position where I can already be ahead instead of catching up,” said Spc. Kevin McColfough of the 436th Chemical Company, who acted as maintenance platoon sergeant during the exercise.

Working with no direct supervision, Airman 1st Class Kristen Gardner of the 136th Airlift Wing maintained the operational safety of the response units by ensuring that all appropriate hearing protection measures were being taken.

“I just do what I know needs to be done and just keep going,” she said.

Her mission also included advising Army and Air Guard forces of minimum safe distances for high-noise equipment.

Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee

Dirty Job: Additional Training Reduces Danger in Afghan Dust

Members of Company C, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation, a medical evacuation unit comprised of Army National Guard units from Georgia, Maryland and Tennessee, know that taking off and landing in the sandy environment of Afghanistan can be a challenge.

Known as “dust landings” and “dust take-offs,” they reduce a medevac pilot’s visibility when the down wash of his UH-60 Black Hawk blows loose sand into the air, forming a cloud that can make evacuations difficult and dangerous for the crew.

“Dust landings are one of the most dangerous things we have to do during medevac missions, so we are spending extra time training on that before they assume the mission,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joseph Roland, the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade standardizations instructor pilot.

The active-component Army’s 25th CAB is C Company’s parent unit in Afghanistan.

Roland travelled to Camp Dwyer to conduct training with the company’s pilots so that they would be comfortable with these difficult conditions before they assumed their mission in mid-April.

Army air-ambulance units have some of the fastest response times on the globe.

From the time they receive the call, the standard is one hour to deliver wounded personnel to the nearest medical facility. This often is referred to as the “golden hour.”

C Company provides medevac support across Regional Command Southwest in Afghanistan.

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