Story by: Master Sgt. Daniel Griego
Posted: March 29, 2015
BASTROP, Texas - The road to deployment is a long one for National Guard units, with months of preparatory training and administrative tasks to fulfill before the Department of Defense approves them for overseas service. The officers and noncommissioned officers of the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion got a head start on this process March 21-29 at Camp Swift with a specialized pre-mobilization training for leaders.
Twenty-four members of the signal battalion, which falls under the Texas National Guard’s Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade), trained for more than a week on warriors skills like reacting to incoming fire, reacting to a vehicle rollover, grenade familiarization and others.
“It’s a value to the unit,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Collins, command sergeant major for the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, “that when the main body gets here, we can actually monitor what’s going on and we won’t have to be going through while they’re going through. We’re free to do all the administrative things we need to do and prep ourselves to go to the [mobilization] station.”
The leaders on site performing this training included the battalion commander, staff officers, senior noncommissioned officers, and mission-essential personnel who will be able to help guide the main body of the organization through the same drill lanes in June.
“We’ll be going to seven different countries across 32 different sites,” said 136th ESB Commander Lt. Col. Tanya Trout, “so we’re training on all the different areas of operation we could, from IED explosions to individual weapons training and individual movement techniques. We’ll have the big main body PMT in June and then we’ll hit the mobilization platform in July at Fort Hood.”
As a signal unit, the battalion’s primary mission will be to enable communications throughout the region, providing voice and network capabilities for their supported elements. The focus for the next few months, however, will be getting back to the basics of their warrior tasks and providing a tactically and physically fit team of Texas Guardsmen.
“A lot of us get stuck behind desks doing computer work,” said Trout. “It’s good to be out here and remember what it’s like to be a Soldier, to do your three to five second buddy rushes, individual weapons qualification, land navigation, all your basic Soldiering skills.”
The battalion will train through the end of the summer, finishing with a Culminating Training Exercise at Fort Hood to simulate their overseas mission prior to departing. This exercise will be the final certification of their hard work and preparations clearing them for combat service.
“Once we get to platform,” said WO1 Audrey Foushee, the battalion property book officer, “we’ll be validating equipment and personnel in preparation for and during the CTE.”
“The unit’s feeling good,” said Collins. “We know we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”