Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) Soldiers mobilize at Camp Atterbury, Indiana
Spc. Aaron Cline, A Troop, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), conducts overwatch duties from a watchtower at Base Defense Training.
A day for good-byes and new beginnings Wylie, TX (January 7, 2012) – It was an early morning for friends and family as they gathered at the Armory in Wylie, TX. Across from them, Soldiers stood in formation waiting anxiously to be released and say their final good-byes. Texas National Guardsmen from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), held their deployment ceremony early Saturday morning in front of onlookers; some who drove as far as Edinburgh, Texas to say their farewells. 1st Lt. Vince Bautista says his good“We had a chance to come up 3 days prior, it byes to his family. Photo by Staff Sgt. gave us a opportunity to take our time getting Malcolm McClendon, Task Force Raphere safely, the long drive was worth it,” said tor (3-124 CAV) PAO. 1st Lt. Vince Bautista, Physician Assistant for the Task Force. “This is our first deployment as a family, so to have them here seeing what we do and what we’re about makes them feel a little better about me being gone.”
Separate deployment ceremonies were also held in Houston, Lufkin, Seagoville, Terrell and Denison for the additional units deploying with the Task Force. Local and community leaders were also in attendance at the various events, showing their support for the men and women that drill in their communities. In Terrell, Mayor Hall Richards, was invited to speak at Charlie Troop’s ceremony.
Lt. Col. Tommy Hooker, 3-124 CAV Commander, and Sgt. Maj. Dwight Sparks, 3-124 CAV Command Sgt. Maj., case the Squadron colors. Photo by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) PAO.
“We’ve had a Guard unit here since the 50s and the community has always been behind them. This is a very patriotic place and our people really care about the Soldiers,” says Richards. “I think people who are in the Guard are serving not only their country, but also their families and communities back home. Mayor Richards additionally recognized the service of the family members and loved ones who stay behind. “I know that you guys have
been training for this, and to some extent excited about going, but it’s the families whom are left to worry and deal with the same day-to-day things. I know that’s hard, and we will make sure to always remember their sacrifice as well,” Richards added. Family and friends present at the farewells were also treated to a Repatching Ceremony. The Guardsmen, in formation, were given the order to remove the traditional 36th Infantry Division “T-Patch” and replace it with the new 71st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, higher headquarters of the 3-124 CAV, patch. According to the heraldry read at the ceremony, the new patch design incorporates all that the brigade is about. “The Oriental blue is the traditional color of the Military Intelligence Corps; the Griffin embodies, vigilance, alertness and courage. The contrast of the white and black of the Griffin’s eye symbolizes the overt and clandestine nature of the brigade’s mission. And the two lightning flashes represent the mix of communication, electronic warfare and cavalry,” read by Cpt. Douglas Yates. At the end of the repatching and casing of the colors, the Soldiers were finally released to meet their families and friends. Hugs and kisses were exchanged for an emotional departure. After the tears and long embraces, 1st Lt. Bautista, along with his fellow Soldiers, boarded the bus. Looking back at the ceremony and fellow Guardsmen’s families, he shared that he has all the confidence in his staff that the medical care of the men and women deploying will be taken care of. “We brought a really good staff, with lots of experience.” Bautista added, “we’re here for the Soldiers and we will do anything we can to make sure their health and welfare is taken care of throughout this deployment and we’re available 24 hours for them.” The Texas National Guardsmen will be deploying to the Horn of Africa early this year in support of Combined Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).
A young girl anxiously awaiting to hug her father who is deploying to the Horn of Africa early this year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Photo by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) PAO.
A not so warm reception
Story and Photos by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon, Task Force Raptor (3-124) PAO.
Camp Atterbury, Indiana (January 13, 2012) – Waiting their turn, National Guardsmen from Texas huddled around a space heater in the 17-degree Indiana weather. The warmth it provided was only temporary as they had to head down to the range soon. Soldiers from Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), conducted training at the Reflexive Fire Range at the Joint Maneuver Training Center (JMTC) at Camp Atterbury, Indiana in preparation for their deployment to the Horn of Africa early this year. The range trains Soldiers for close quarter combat. “It teaches Soldiers how to engage the enemy at distances between zero and 25 meters and how to take the recoil from the weapon in a certain manner in order to engage the target quickly,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Demarsiso, Senior Observer Control/ Trainer with the 1-57 Brigade at Camp Atterbury. The range was only one stop of a list of things the Soldiers had to do in their first week at Atterbury.
(Top) Texas National Guardsmen from Alpha Troop, conduct overwatch duties from a watchtower. (Right Top) Sgt. Joshua Havens from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, fitted for new gear. (Right Bottom) Pfc. Clayton Lott from 712 Military Police Company, conducts personnel search.
Earlier in the week, the Guardsmen moved from what seemed to be one endless line to another at Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and Integration (RSOI), a process that ensures the Soldiers are cleared of medical, legal, and financial issues as well as have the gear needed for the mission. According to 2nd Lt. Matthew Venia, Staff Officer at the RSOI, the process is worth the wait. “This process is not only im-
portant for the Soldier, but for the family back home. SGLI (Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance) is obviously a good thing to have up to date, but also their DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System) and ID cards are checked for accuracy to ensure the family back home is getting the medical care that they are now entitled to.” Once the Soldiers cleared RSOI, they hit the frozen Indiana ground running with an exercise in Base Defense. Soldiers trained on a mock military base conducting security patrols, entry control points (ECPs), and quick reaction force (QRF) scenarios. Cpt. Travis Nelson from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, out of Wylie, TX, was the Officer in Charge of the Tactical Operations Center there. “We’re using vehicles and people approaching the ECPs, there are individuals dropping off suspicious objects outside the base, and even a scenario for the QRF to escort individuals from the embassy to a safe location.” At the base’s front gate, Soldiers from the 712th Military Police Company, out of Houston, TX, stood guard at their ECPs. Staff Sgt. Thomas Hayes, Sergeant of the Guard, talks about the training. “The Soldiers here at the gate make sure all persons coming in and out have IDs and if needed the passengers are asked to exit the vehicle and searched separately. This is basically the crawl phase of running an ECP, but it shows everyone what goes on and what we will be doing on the deployment.” Hayes believes the cold weather adds value to the training. “The way I look at it, one way or another there is going to be some heartache involved. Here it’s the cold, when we get to Africa it’s going to be the heat; so either way you’re gonna have some aggravation to learn to deal with,” said Hayes. Back at the Reflexive Fire Range, the Soldiers tore themselves away from the warmth of the heater, clenched the cold steel of their weapons, aimed and fired.
Teaching and Training
Camp Atterbury, Indiana (January 20, 2012) – With their wrenches in hand, guns at the ready and classroom full of attentive students, the Soldiers from Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) braved the cold and pushed on with training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. The Texas National Guardsmen are at the mobilization platform preparing for their deployment to the Horn of Africa early this year.
Story and Photos by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon, Task Force Raptor (3-124) PAO.
preventative maintenance. Some of this stuff I’ve done only once or a long time ago, so it’s a good refresher. Everyone on my team has been very helpful and instructive.” Gray and his fellow mechanics are responsible for the entire Task Force’s fleet of vehicles. “Knowing that our work keeps Soldiers safe with reliable transportation makes me feel proud. I feel it’s a big responsibility, but I’m confident that we’ll keep all the vehicles running and mission ready,” said Gray.
The men and women of the (L to R) Spc. David Gray and Sgt. Samuel EsTask Force have pinoza from Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) been training on performing preventative maintenance. everything from vehicle maintenance to rescue operations. In a different part of the camp, instructors Mechanics from Headquarters and Headfrom Charlie Troop’s Uganda Platoon put quarters Troop these vehicles to learned how to good use at the maintain and reMounted Convoy pair vehicle HVAC Ops portion of Pre systems, much Mobilization Trainneeded in the ing. Here they taught East African heat. Soldiers skills in They also worked navigating through on their general hostile environments and preventawhile driving in their tive maintenance HMMVs (Humvees). skills. For Spc. David Gray this (2nd from R) Staff Sgt. Ricardo Cantu, Uganda Platoon, Charlie For Instructor Staff Troop, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), watches to make sure Soldiers Sgt. Ricardo Cantu, was a great way are performing their tasks well during Mounted Convoy Ops training. to knock some of the exercise was the rust off. instructive both ways. “We’ve been working on exhausts, replacing batteries and doing all kinds of
“When we’re up there teaching, it gives us practice and makes us feel more comfortable
with getting up in front of people; and most importantly gives me a refresher on the subject I’m teaching.” The Texas National Guard instructors from Charlie Troop will be teaching host nations’ militaries in the Horn of Africa region military skills. Skills that they themselves have learned to rely on and eager to impart.
Spc. Corey Munsinger from the Site Security Team, Charlie Troop, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), provides security while his team searches a downed aircraft for sensitive items during a training scenario.
“I feel great going over there and knowing that if I teach them well, they will go home to their families, just like I will. These are basic skills, but can save Soldiers’ lives; and it gives me great pride that we can go share our knowledge and experience with them,” Cantu added. Down the road at another range, the Site Security Team, also part of Charlie Troop, conducted rescue operations training. In this training scenario the team was inserted by helicopter and made their way to secure and retrieve sensitive items from a downed aircraft. Sgt. Joshua Everett believes this training is key to prepare them for the role they
“I feel great going over
there and knowing that if I teach them well, they will go home to their families, just like I will.”
Members of the Site Security Team, Charlie Troop , Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), move forward towards their objective as they conduct sensitive item recovery training.
will play in Africa. “These tactics are the ones we will use should be have to recover any type of U.S. aircraft or personnel over there. This is the first deployment for many of the guys on our team, exercises like these prepare them for our mission.” Whether they’re turning a wrench, carrying a weapon or teaching, the men and women of Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) continue training and preparing for their deployment.
Azreil and Buffalo Troop Soldiers kick off CPX Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) PAO.
Camp Atterbury, Indiana – In the non-stop Indiana drizzle, Texas National Guardsmen from Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) began the Command Post Exercise portion of their pre-mobilization training at Camp Atterbury in preparation for deployment to the Horn of Africa early this year. The exercise consisted of three 12-hour days filled with scenarios testing what the Soldiers have learned so far. Conducting force protection and entry control point drills, the Soldiers of Alpha Troop’s 2nd Platoon were evaluated on their base defense skills. 1st Lt. Josue Muñoz, platoon leader, considers this a great exercise for his newer Soldiers. “The good thing about this training is that it has given us plenty of time to work on the little things and build a strong foundation. We have a lot of Soldiers that have never deployed, and now they know what to look for; they know how to properly provide base security.”
Pfc. Angel Ramirez from Alpha Troop, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), conducts base security during a Command Post Exercise.
Bravo Troop’s Quick Reaction Force (QRF) stood by until they got the call to provide security and escort a VIP from the local embassy. Suited up in full gear, the Soldiers rolled out in their HMMVs (Humvees), picked up the VIP and got him to safety. Platoon Sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Alphadel McKee, explains that these exercises prepare his Soldiers for what they might face on their deployment.
“Our counterparts over there have been keeping us informed of what’s going there and these drills, that we’ve been going through since PMT [Pre Mobilization Training] and AT [Annual Training], have been right on track.” Both McKee and Muñoz believe that all the training and hard work has paid off not only to prepare the Soldiers, but also to bring them together and create unit cohesion.
“We have Soldiers from all specialties and backgrounds out here and this training really highlights their unique skills.”
“A lot of the guys in my platoon come from all over Texas. We only had 28 organic Soldiers in the beginning, all the rest were fillers. Throughout the training though, we have gotten to the point where we’re meshing really well and taking care of our basic soldiering skills,” added Sgt. 1st Class Marvin. “I’m amazed how well everyone is coming together. We have Soldiers from all specialties and backgrounds out here and this training really highlights their unique skills and what they can contribute; making us stronger as a whole,” said 1st Lt. Muñoz. While the men and women of A Troop’s 2nd platoon and B Troop’s QRF kept watch and stood by, administrative Soldiers back at the Command Operations Center were tested on their skills.
Spc. San Juanita Garcia from Alpha Troop, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), conducts radio checks during a Command Post Exercise.
Continued next page.
Spc. Rose Lee from Alpha Troop, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), conducts base security during a Command Post Exercise.
Sgt. Patrick Horton, supply sergeant for A Troop, was asked to play the part of a Soldier needing to return home from deployment for an important civil matter. The scenario exercised the unit’s ability to handle the logistics of getting the Soldier back to the States from overseas. “I was to approach them and let them know that I was going to be part of an adoption hearing. They immediately took action and set up meetings with the legal officer and family care representatives back home, and began the paper work. It was impressive to see how well they handled all the logistics that go into actually getting someone home. It exercised their mental muscles,” explained Sgt. Horton. Three Soldiers of B Troop had their mental muscles exercised when they were tasked to teach a group of young adults, playing the role of foreign military personnel, a course in military hand signals. The exercise was designed to give the Soldiers a feel for what it might be like to teach military personnel from host countries within the Horn of Africa. For Sgt. Robert Willis, a massage therapist instructor back home, this
proved to be very different than what he was used to. “We were exposed to possible situations like power outages, language barriers and having to use an interpreter, which slows your class down quite a bit. It’s completely different for those of us that haven’t been exposed to it,” said Willis. After the class, Sgt. Willis and his fellow instructors conducted an after action report with their unit command as well as Dr. Claire Metelits, a Socio-Cultural Research Advisor with U.S. Africa Command. Dr. Metelits has been following the Task Force’s training at Camp Atterbury and serving as advisor on Horn of Africa cultures for the Soldiers. She stresses that relationships are key to working with the people and militaries of the East African region. “In Africa it’s all about relationship building and you can’t do that without understanding the local culture. Our best weapon there is a smile and a handshake. I also encourage Soldiers to learn a few key phrases in
Sgt. Robert Willis from B Troop, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), shows military hand signals, with the help of an interpreter, to students playing the role of foreign military personnel.
their language,” said Metelits. Metelits explains to the Soldiers that African militaries know how to fight and their training needs are different. “Most of them [African Soldiers] have been in combat and doing it for a long time; they know how to shoot. Things we can show them are Command and Control, how to take care of their vehicles, or how to conduct land navigation; it’s the tactical skills and structure that they can benefit from. And this is good training to prepare our Soldiers to be successful over there,” Metelits added.
part of that.’ With the insights the training gave me on how to teach and connect with them, I think we will be successful,” explained Sgt. Willis. Sgt. Willis, and his fellow Soldiers from B Troop and A Troop continue training in the damp Camp Atterbury winter as they prepare for the second part of the evaluation next week: Command Training Exercise and 24-hour operations.
The training scenario also gave Sgt. Willis valuable insight on teaching and now looks forward to the opportunity to be able to share his knowledge with the African Soldiers. “I think it’ll be fun and will be very exciting to have the opportunity to teach Soldiers from other countries, and hopefully make a difference, and then look back on that one day and say, ‘I was
Cpl. Watson from B Troop, Task Force Raptor (3124 CAV), passes out training materials to students playing the role of foreign military personnel.
“Our best weapon there is a smile and a handshake”
Dr. Claire Metelits, Socio-Cultural Research Advisor for U.S. Africa Command, shows a Soldier from Alpha Troop, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), what she believes to be one of the best skills the Soldiers can utilize on their deployment.
igilant till the end. “This training is very effective for
the younger Soldiers and lets them know what to expect down range.” Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) PAO.
Atterbury, Indiana – For two teams the road to Super Bowl XLVI has required them to put forth their best effort, to challenge themselves both physically and mentally. In Indiana, these teams will finally have the opportunity to put all that training and hard work to the test. Not far from where these championship teams are preparing for the big day, Texas National Guardsmen put on their game face for the final evaluation before they head to the Horn of Africa for their deployment.
The men and women of Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV) started the three-day, 24-hour ops of the Combined Training Exercise (CTE) portion of their mobilization evaluation at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. The event was the culmination of their time there and put to test all of what the unit has been training and preparing for. The entire Task Force was “in-play” manning Entry Control Points, escorting VIPs from mock U.S. Embassies, and reacting to a myriad of scenarios. Anything from a missing Soldier to stolen weapons was thrown at the Guardsmen. Guarding the Flight Line, Soldiers from the 702nd Military Police Company put their skills to the test restricting access to the base’s airfield and reacting to threats. While this might be a routine day for the experienced MPs of the 702nd, this training proved to be very valuable to Pfc. Brandon McKelroy. “I’ve been learning a lot being out here. Things like how to better search people, sharpen my observation skills and even how to communicate properly on the radio when calling up situations or requesting help,” said McKelroy.
Spc. Brandon McKelroy from the 702nd Military Police Company, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), stands guard.
L to R) Spc. John Blair and Sergeant of the Guard, Sgt. Paul Titley from the 712th Military Police Company, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), go over the log entries.
McKelroy attributes the success his team has had during the evaluation process to his senior Soldiers and mentors. Soldiers like Staff Sgt. Kyle Elder who take advantage of training scenarios like these to teach Soldiers.
“You can never know too much. The other day during a simple ID check at the gate, one of my guys noticed the individual had one shoe tied tight and the other loosely tied. Little things like that can be a hint for something else,” said Titley.
“This training is very effective for the younger Soldiers and lets them know what to expect down range. This is good for a lot of them that haven’t deployed. It’s better to find out what our younger Soldiers, and even the experienced ones, need training on, so we can correct it here versus out in theater,” explained Elder.
The cold Indiana weather added its own training value to the equation for Sgt. Titley.
Sergeant of the Guard (SOG), Sgt. Paul Titley from the 712th Military Police Company has been a Military Policeman for over 13-years and shares that there is always something new to learn.
“When you’re doing personnel searches up here in this cold weather, you have to take into consideration that people are going to be wearing more layers, gloves, hats, and scarves; all things that need to be considered and taken into account,” added Titley. “Also, as SOGs, we need to look after our Soldiers on patrol and manning the gate. I bring them coffee and warm liquids and just make sure their general welfare is good.” Continued next page.
For the men and women braving the cold and making sure the base and flight lines are safe, there are Soldiers in the “rear” taking care of them. Admin Soldiers like Sgt. Amanda Riley of the 702nd MP Co. were also tested during the CTE.
ments done and make sure everybody in the chain of command, as well as the Chaplain, is notified.” Riley takes pride in what she does and works hard for her fellow Guardsmen that are out there working the ECPs.
“We received a call from our Battle Captain. He told us that one of our Soldiers received a Red Cross message.We immediately started the packet and notified the commander, so that he may inform the Soldier. Next we started preparing the leave request, then we had to draft memos, get the risk assess-
“I want them to know that their S1 (personnel office) is taking care of them the best we can, so that they can do their job out there and not worry about pay or other administrative issues. And these training scenarios have only given me more confidence in doing that.” Riley added.
(Above) Sergeant of the Guard, Staff Sgt. Kyle Elder from the 702nd Military Police Company, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), conducts radio checks with his Soldiers on post.
(Right) Spc. Anthony Jenkins and Spc. Brandon McKelroy from the 702nd Military Police Company, Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV), stand guard.
When the evaluators of the CTE called, “end ex,” the hard work of the 702nd and the 712th, along with that of the entire Task Force paid off as they were given the symbolic “arms up” used in football for touchdown.
Once the Soldiers conducted the After Action Report, Task Force Raptor Commander, Lt. Col. Tom Hooker, took the time to recognize the men and women for their hard work getting here and reminded them that it is game time.
“I want them to know that their S1 is taking care of them the best we can, so that they can do their job out there and not worry about pay or other administrative issues.”
(L to R) Spc. Patrick Plata and Spc. Adam Werner from Alpha Troop, Task Force Raptor (3124 CAV), providing security at Base Defense Training.
3rd edition of Hooah4HOA. The official publication of Task Force Raptor (3-124 CAV).