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The Official Publication of

Task Force Raptor (3-124) TXARNG Issue 1 - September 2011

INSIDE: wGet the point wCool and cultured wBattle in’ the heat

Task Force Raptor dons CBRN gear at Leaders’ PMT

CW2 Zachary Patterson, HHT Task Force Raptor, pulls security during dismounted drills at Camp Swift, TX.

Story and Photos by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon, Task Force Raptor (3-124) Public Affairs Officer

Get the point Bastrop, Texas (August 15, 2011) - “Move over about 10 meters to your right”… “Here?”… “No, a little more… Right there!” Soldiers yell out to each other from behind the tree line. “I found it!”… “Give me the numbers”… “Six, two, four, two… four, three, nine, nine!”… “That’s it, we got it, stay there so we can shoot the azimuth to the next point!”

up your concentration.”

One hour into the course and the Texas National Guardsmen have only found their first grid point.

“If you don’t use it, you forget it. Land Nav is a perishable skill.” Explains Staff Sgt. Joshua Lancaster, an Instructor at Combat Support Training and Evaluation Battalion (CSTEBn). “What we do here is give the Soldiers the tools they need to be able to navigate successfully without having to rely on GPS or similar technology.”

“I think we’re thinking too hard, trying to do it too much by the book,” says Sgt. Joshua Havens from Garland, Texas, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop Task Force Raptor (3-124), “shooting the same azimuth several times, trying to be too precise with our pace counts.” “And the heat did not help,” Havens continues, “As you’re trudging around in the woods you start getting tired and sweaty; it’ll mess

In the unending, sweltering Texas heat, the Soldiers of Task Force Raptor continue their Pre Mobilization Training (PMT) with the Land Navigation Course (Land Nav) at Camp Swift. The course refreshes the Soldiers’ ability to read a map, use a compass, and navigate.

The Soldiers are broken up into teams and issued a compass, a map, 5 six-digit grid coordinates and sent on their way. To pass the course, the navigators have two hours to find three out of five points. “Plotting the grid points is where people mess

(Photos L to R) Spc. Joshua Lewis and Staff Sgt. Matthew Young with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop Task Force Raptor (3-124) out of Wylie, Texas, plot out their grid points. Sgt. Edith Banda with the 712th Military Police Company Task Force Raptor (3-124), out of Ellington Field, Houston, Texas, plots out her grid points. Spc. Jonathan Davis, Sgt. Joshua Havens and Sgt. Kenneth Davis with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop Task Force Raptor (3-124), out of Wylie, Texas, shoot an azimuth to their next grid point. (L to R) Cpt Erik Alejos and Cpt Robert Anspaugh with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop Task Force Raptor (3-124) out of Wylie, Texas, plot out their next grid point as Staff Sgt. Robert Grimsley pulls security.

up the most,” Lancaster says, “if you can’t grasp that concept, then you’re lost in the sauce.” As to not be lost, plotting points begins with having a map that is broken down into the military grid reference system, with 1000 meter grid squares numbered sequentially left to right and bottom to top. Each square can be broken down even further to 100 square meters, 10 square meters and down to a single-meter point on the map, the grid point. Get the point? “To be able to do it on paper, that’s the easy part,” Havens confesses. “Once you get out into the woods, you gotta adjust a little bit. The plotted course on the map says you’re supposed to go that way, but once you’re there you see big clumps of trees and brush you have to walk through, making it hard to see where you’re going.” In the end, the course, with its classroom

doctrine and real-world realities, gives the Soldier the confidence needed to trust their navigational skills. Havens continues, “once you find that first point you realize what you did wrong and after that, finding your points gets quicker.” o

Cool and cultured Bastrop, Texas (Aug. 18, 2011) – The classroom was invitingly cool as Soldiers began to file in and take their seats. A welcomed change, since previous training has been held outside in the Central Texas heat. An indoor class could mean only one thing, however - slide presentations, a tired Soldier’s ticket to dream land. For two days, Jessica Lee, Cultural Expert at the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) at Africa Command, stood in front of the Texas National Guardsmen at Camp Swift, TX, sharing her sociocultural research of the Horn of Africa and keeping them engaged with her personal experiences. “A friend of mine from Tanzania was driving a cab in [Washington,] D.C. and one day he had a gentleman from Texas ask him where he was from. My friend answered, ‘I’m from where you’re from.’ My friend was making reference to Olduvai Gorge, in Tanzania where the oldest human remains were found.” Lee shared.

things.” Says Lee, “How to recognize that your own cultural biases might not be allowing you to engage with people as effectively. It’ll help you understand the operating environment you will be in and the overall mission.” The Task Force will replace a National Guard unit, currently in the Horn of Africa, engaging in projects such as militaryto-military training with partner nations, working with medical personnel to provide health care to area towns and villages, and helping with infrastructure projects such as building schools. Lee recalls a project that without the presence of the Task Force would have not been possible. “CJTF-HOA in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, after the election related violence in 2007/2008, sent a team out to the Rift Valley and rebuilt schools that had been demolished during the [ethnic] violence.” Lee says.

The Soldiers, part of Task Force Raptor (3-124), headquartered in Wylie, Texas, will be deploying to the Horn of Africa early next year. There, they will join the larger Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), whose mission is to promote partnerships with the countries in the region.

She explained that the project involved hiring people from both communities to help with the reconstruction and added, “in the end the children that attended the schools were from both communities, so I think the Task Force had a very positive impact on this mission and community as a whole.”

“My biggest point is not just providing particular cultural information, but providing a space to get into the mind set that things might be different where you’re going and how to think about those

Many of the Soldiers from Task Force Raptor have been deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan and are familiar with projects such as these. They recognize the importance of knowing the culture

and customs of the people they are working with. Major Timothy Amerson, Task Force Raptor (3124) Operations Officer, recalls a visit he made to a local leader while serving as Civil Affairs Officer in Iraq.

states that previous deploying units did not start the process until right before they left. “The first time a SCRAT (Socio-Cultural Research and Advisory Team) member went out to work with a National Guard unit, they had an hour to talk to people and that was it. Last year I had two days to work with them.” Lee states, “Now [your unit] has reached out even earlier than anyone else has and seems to be setting up a more robust sociocultural training program.”

“I was meeting with the Mayor of this one village and he grabbed my hand to walk me around and didn’t let go of it. My interpreter asked if I knew what that meant, and of course I didn’t. So he told me, ‘you are his family now; you are protected no matter what.’ If he knew anything was The Soldiers present in Lee’s class came out with going wrong [in the area], I guarantee he would a better understanding of the people and cultures have told me.” they will potentially be working with in the Horn of Africa, and thanks to her interactive teaching Amerson, along with the leadership of the Task style, did not cash in their ticket to dream land. Force are taking steps early on to enSgt. Stephen Forsure their Soldiers rester, 712 Military are well versed on Police Co. Task the cultures and cusForce Raptor (3toms of the people 124), out of Housthey will be working ton, TX, says, “She with on their deploykept us engaged, ment. encouraging us to ask questions and “We came up with you learn a lot more a three-phased inthat way; versus struction. First phase someone pointing at is an introduction a screen giving you to the cultures and hard facts and data. peoples of the Horn, She broke it down to get them interested in what we’re doing. The ‘Barney style’ and now I have a lot more confisecond phase is going to take them little further, dence in how I will work with and approach the same concept but start involving some engage- people over there.” ment type [scenarios], like saying, ‘hi’ to people in their language. This is important because it lets the people know that we’re interested in them, that we took the time to learn some phrases in their language. Phase three, when we get to the mobilization platform, will be more engaged with role players acting out scenarios that we are going to have to address using what we’ve learned,” Amerson says. Involving Guardsmen this early in the game is a first for units deploying to the Horn of Africa. Lee

Battle in’ the heat

Story by: SSG Malcolm McClendon, Task Force Raptor (3-124 ) PAO

Bastrop, Texas (Aug. 11 2011) – It was only 8 a.m. and the heat in the gym was unbearable. Bodies dripped sweat at the slightest of efforts. It was Army Combatives Training at Camp Swift. Texas Army National Guardsmen from Task Force Raptor (3-124) battled not only the heat, but also each other as they practiced hand-to-hand combat techniques.


pt Chris Sedtal battles Cpt Douglas Yates, HHT Co. Task Force Raptor (3-124), during Army Combat-

ives Training at Camp Swift. (Photo by SSG Malcolm McClendon Task Force Raptor (3-124) PAO).

“It was without a doubt hot, but it added value to the training, it pushed you to the limits physically while still having to concentrate on what was being taught.” Said, SSgt Michael Barker, with the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, “Good fun stuff

in miserable conditions, but that’s part of being in the Army” he added. The training gives Soldiers the tools they need to survive should they have to physically engage the enemy. However, it’s not designed to teach anyone how to fatally injure his or her opponent. “We don’t try to teach them how to beat somebody up, we’re teaching them to hold on till their buddy comes, and that’s how we are going to win the fight,” said SFC Christopher Max, Combat Support Training & Evaluation Battalion (CSTEBn) Instructor, who will actually be joining the unit on the deployment. “Training the guys I will be going with, is a good gauge of how the unit will be when we’re over there; and they did well.” The Task Force’s deployment will take them to the Horn of Africa early next year to join a larger Combined Joint Task Force to promote partnerships with local countries’ governments in that region. While it is not Iraq or Afghanistan, the Soldiers must still remain alert and know their basic skills. “On our mission, there might not be a point to actually [use lethal force], but we will still need to control them, so that’s why this training is important,” adds Max. The training consists of dominant body positions, transitions from these, and submission techniques such as chokes and arm bars.


gt Candice Perez, 712 MP Co. Task Force Raptor (3-124), inches her way forward during mat drills at

Camp Swift. (Photo by SSG Malcolm McClendon Task Force Raptor (3-124) PAO).

The Army Combatives Training is only one day in Pre-Mobilization Training (PMT) the unit participates in to get them ready for the deployment. And as the training continues, so does the battle with the summer heat. h

The Month in Pictures

Sgt. Edith Banda, 712 MP Co. Task Force Raptor (3-124), steps out of one building and towards a second building. The Soldiers from the Task Force conduct urban operations training at Camp Swift, Texas.

* Hooaa 4 HOA is an authorized publication for members of the Texas Military Forces and the Department of Defense. Contents of the Dispatch are not necessarily the official views of, or endorsed by, the U.S. Government, the National Guard Bureau, the State of Texas, the Adjutant General’s Department of Texas, the Texas Military Forces, or Task Force Raptor (3-124). * The editorial content of this publication is the responsibility of the Task Force Raptor (3-124) Public Affairs Officer. The appearance of advertising in this publication, including inserts or supplements, does not constitute endorsement of the products or services advertised by the U.S. Army. * Content is edited, prepared and provided by the Task Force Raptor (3-124) Public Affairs Officer.


Issue 1 - September 2011


Issue 1 - September 2011