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TRADOC-general-visits-Nebraska-RTI.aspx1/14/2019TRADOC general visits Nebraska's Regional Training Institute
TRADOC MG Anderson visits Nebraska RTI
ArmyStaff Sgt. Herschel Talley

The U.S. Army’s number two general in charge of training traveled to Camp Ashland, Nebraska, in mid-January to learn more about the Nebraska Army National Guard’s regional training school while also looking to solicit instructors and Guard officials thoughts on how difficult it will be to implement the Army’s new combat fitness test.

Maj. Gen. Mark E. Anderson is the deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Based out of Fort Eustis, Virginia, the TRADOC has oversight over Army component schools, including the Camp Ashland-based 209th Regiment (Regional Training Institute).

Anderson’s Jan. 12 visit to Camp Ashland was part of a tour of training sites throughout several states, where he hoped to have conversations with local training officials with regard to the opportunities and challenges facing the school houses.

“Across the TRADOC portfolio, we have about 270 National Guardsmen on Title 10 or ADOS positions that are really here to service the 54 states and territories,” Anderson said. “As an RTI, you are part of the One Army School System.”

The One Army School System is comprised of active and reserve component schools dedicated to providing realistic and relevant training to support the Army’s mission, stateside and abroad. The RTI at Camp Ashland teaches the Basic Leadership Course (BLC), Warrant Officer Candidate School and Officer Candidate School as well as a Motor Transport Operators Transition Course and Recruit Sustainment Program.

While meeting with the Nebraska National Guard instructors, the general asked the BLC cadre about their thoughts on the Army’s new fitness test, the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), and how best to execute it in the school environment.

“This is the pilot year for the ACFT implementation,” Anderson said. “We have eight National Guard battalions between the states that are a part of the pilot. The focus right now is changing the culture of fitness.”

The six-event test is gender and age neutral, and is focused on three categories of fitness: black, gray and gold based on an individual Soldier’s military occupational specialty.

The Army Physical Fitness test is currently a requirement to attend and graduate from BLC. Anderson was interested in the cadres’ opinions regarding if the ACFT should be included as a requirement to graduate from BLC.

“It’s a discussion that’s being had with the senior (noncommissioned officers) within TRADOC and to be honest, I’ve been an advocate for eliminating it from the school requirements because I’m thinking of the demands being put on the RTIs and the units,” Anderson said.

Along with talking with the BLC instructors, Anderson also spoke to Col. Thomas Mortimer, Nebraska Army National Guard recruiting and retention commander, as well as Capt. Matthew Wolff and Capt. Jeremy Ham, who each command an Enlisted Strength Management unit. Mortimer talked to Anderson about the advantages of the Recruit Sustainment Program and how the addition of using drill sergeants from the U.S. Army Reserve has benefited the students by adding more rigor to their initial training. Mortimer said that by incorporating U.S. Army Reserve drill sergeants, National Guard Soldiers attending RSP are receiving a level of training that is better preparing them for the difficulties of basic.

“We are getting them better prepared physically and we are having a higher percentage of distinguished honor graduates and that’s thanks to the RSP,” Mortimer said.

The concept was a surprise to the general and he encouraged the partnership.

“I’m unaware of any other state doing this,” Anderson said. “This is brilliant.”

RSP is an Army National Guard program designed to introduce new recruits to the fundamentals of the U.S. Army before they leave to Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training.

Nebraska-Chinooks-in-Canada.aspx5/19/2018Canadian exercise tests Nebraska Chinook crew’s capabilities
ArmyStaff Sgt. Herschel Talley

CAMP WAINWRIGHT, Alberta (Canada) – A small group of Soldiers from the Nebraska Army National Guard’s Grand Island-based Company B, 2-135th General Support Aviation Battalion, traveled to Camp Wainwright on the grassy plains of Alberta, Canada, for four days in mid-May with two of their CH-47 Chinook helicopters in support of Exercise Maple Resolve 2018.

The Soldiers were part of a contingent of more than 150 Nebraska Army Guardsmen assigned to  Nebraska’s 1st Battalion (Security and Support), 376th Aviation Regiment, who participated in the May 8-24 exercise at Camp Wainwright. The exercise is the Canadian Army’s most comprehensive annual training, designed for any contingency operation.

This year’s Maple Resolve included approximately 6,000 service members from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and France.

The Nebraska Soldiers from Co. B, departed Grand Island on May 13, 2018 for their 11-hour flight to Camp Wainwright in Alberta, Canada. Once on ground, the unit shifted into its mission of tactical mission planning, in-fill and ex-fill exercises, along with shipload operations.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brad Kuhn of Hemingford, Nebraska, who served as the officer-in-command of Company B during the unit’s time in Canada, said the exercise gave the Nebraskans an opportunity to test itself before its future overseas deployment.

“It helped us prepare for multiple missions sets on our upcoming deployment,” Kuhn said.

The CH-47 Chinooks were put to use working with troops from Canada, United Kingdom along with United States Marines, who were practicing tactical infiltration and air assault missions during the exercise. For some, like Spc. Alec Record, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter repairer and a first-time crew chief, the exercise gave him the chance to learn more about his unit and what it takes to operate effectively with other military forces.

“It is nice to work with other countries and good to see other perspectives, some of the subtle differences and to see how similar we are,” Record said. “It’s the same humor, different uniforms. The military humor has no borders.”

While in Canada, the Co. B Soldiers also had the opportunity to help train Canadian Soldiers in the sling load operations. In this case, the sling load exercise involved involve hooking concrete barriers to the underside of the Chinook helicopters aircraft for practice. In the real world, Chinooks can be used to sling load water bladders to fight fires, fuel bladders to refuel vehicles, or transport supplies to isolated troops in the field.

Staff Sgt. Troy Perkins was a flight engineer on one particular mission. Perkins is currently assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 1-376th Aviation, but previously served in Co. B for 11 years.

“Sling loads are kind of the bread and butter of the Chinooks, so we try to spend as much time on them as we can,” Perkins said. “We spend enough time doing it by ourselves. We actually like to go out and support someone else doing them, it’s always fun.”

As a flight engineer, Perkins is both the helicopter’s crew chief and load master. The crew chief position is responsible for the safety of the aircraft and its personnel, while the load master is responsible for the cargo being hauled or sling loaded. Before a load can be lifted, the flight engineer inspects the load and insures everything is rigged to specifications according to the rigger’s manual.

“The aircraft (load master) has ultimate authority over the load, whether to take it or not,” Perkins said.

Once the load has been fastened to the underside of the chinook, the helicopter slowly rises. Slack is taken out of the ropes and the load is lifted approximately 10 feet off the ground.  The torque of the load is then calculated and measured by the flight engineer and pilot as the helicopter hovers in position until the crew deems the load safe for travel.

Working with Perkins on the ground, Canadian Armed Forces practiced their abilities to sling load by hooking the barriers to the helicopter from the ground.  

“It’s always good when you can put them into application to help someone else too. It was a great opportunity to help them out,” Perkins said.

Kuhn echoed those words, adding that he pleased with the effort that the Co. B Soldiers put into their work with the Canadian Forces. “We just did what we normally do, no matter what forces we’re working with,” Kuhn said.
Cross-Culture-Cuisine--Nebraska,-Canada-cooks-feed-service-members-during-Maple-Resolve-2018.aspx5/18/2018Cross-Culture Cuisine: Nebraska, Canada cooks help fuel Maple Resolve 2018
ArmyStaff Sgt. Herschel Talley

CAMP WAINRIGHT, Alberta (Canada) – Culinary specialists with the Nebraska National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-376th Aviation Regiment, joined with their foreign counterparts from the Canadian Armed Forces in the mobile kitchen trailers where they provided food services for more than 400 troops who were supporting Exercise Maple Resolve 2018 at Camp Wainwright in Alberta, Canada.

Capt. Aloma Moncrief, commander of the Nebraska Army National Guard’s Grand Island-based unit, said her team was excited to work with counterparts from a different county.

“One of the primary objectives of our battalion commander coming up here was to integrate with the Canadian Forces and not only show them what we can do, but also to learn from them,” Moncrief said.

According to Moncrief, she wanted her Soldiers to build more confidence in their cooking abilities while also gaining a better working knowledge of what it takes to accomplish their mission in a field environment.

“I hope they just really have a good time and enjoy this experience,” she added.

Overseeing the entire kitchen operations is Sgt. Matthew Keddy from the Canadian Air Force 408th Tactical Helicopter Squadron based in Edmonton, Alberta. Keddy has been a member of the Canadian Air Force for more than 18 years and is the kitchen officer overseeing 11 Canadian Armed Forces cooks. The Canadian Forces Field Cooks were a mixture of multiple branches brought together for the exercise; through their combined skills, along with their American counterparts, they were responsible for delivering hot meals to the Soldiers throughout the two-week training event.

Keddy said the cohesion between the two countries has been incredible.

“It’s really been a great experience,” Keddy said. “The camaraderie, being able to share trade secrets and skills and learning about the different parts of the country and their different regional foods.”

Master Cpl. Keith McDonald of the Canadian 19th Mission Support Squadron and Staff Sgt. Cletus Arasmith of the Nebraska National Guard were the noncommissioned officers-in-charge of the day-shift multinational and multi-branch cooks, who were challenged with preparing more than 1,200 meals a day using five Canadian MKTs. Arasmith admits there was some awkwardness on the first day as the combined team had to learn the various styles of the assigned cooks. However, he said, that awkwardness quickly dissolved and everyone came together to tackle the mission.

“We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” Arasmith said. “We’re in our element.”

 And what an element it is. During the course of the exercise, the cooks pulled 12-hours shifts starting at either 6 a.m. for days or at 6 p.m. for nights. For members of the day crew, that meant arriving at around 5:30 a.m. and taking over the work from the night crew, which ended its “day” by preparing breakfast for the troops. Once the shift turnover was complete, the night crew would return to their bunks for sleep, ready to begin their next shift later that afternoon.

Despite the long shifts involved, the American and Canadian service members took it in stride.

“The first night was really rough, but once you get used to it, it’s not so bad,” said Sgt. Keyle Alcorn, a culinary specialist with HHC, 1-376th Aviation Regiment, who served as a night shift team leader. “It’s nice and cool, really more relaxed and we all mesh really well. There’s not disagreement or tension at all.”

Members of the day crew were responsible for serving breakfast and preparing and serving the next two meals, ensuring that Soldiers participating in the exercise were able to have hot chow three times a day. A secondary area in the dinning tent also provided Soldiers with an opportunity for other meal substitutes such as fruit, cereal and salads.

Of the 11 Canadian cooks, the most experienced are assigned to the dinning tent to prepare the meal substitutes, while the least experienced remained in the MKT. McDonald said he did this to ensure the least experienced Soldiers had the best chance to learn how to cook on the MKT.

“The trailer runs 24 hours,” McDonald said. “The food requirement here is very high. There’s a standard the entire Canadian Forces has to follow. What is required (nutritionally) is the same across the force and they have to cook to that requirement.”

Although has only been in the Canadian Army nine years, he has worked as a civilian cook for 22 years. He said cooking in an MKT can present its own challenges preparing food. The MKT is fueled by generators, which power the lights, while propane tanks are used for the steam tables, ovens and griddles.

“Steam is your friend,” McDonald said. “You can’t cook without steam.”

Between the serving, meal preparation and cleaning, the Soldiers had numerous opportunities to share stories from home and how their experiences differ between the American and Canadian militaries. The differences between the regional languages was one particularly interesting experience. For example, what the Americans would call a stocking cap, the Canadians call a toque, and the differences don’t stop there.

“What we use to transport meals to the field, we call them mermites. But up here, they call them hayboxes,” Arasmith said.

Arasmith said it was explained to him that during the 1800s, the Canadian Forces would transport meals to the field in wooden boxes, with hay layered around the food to keep it warm.

“It’s learning stuff like that, which makes this experience so interesting,” Arasmith added.

More than 150 Soldiers from the Nebraska Army National Guard’s 1-376th Aviation Regiment traveled to Camp Wainwright in Alberta, Canada, May 8-24, for Exercise Maple Resolve 2018, the Canadian Army’s most comprehensive annual training even designed for any contingency operation. This year’s Maple Resolve included approximately 6,000 service members from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and France.

155th-CES-CBRN.aspx2/7/2018Nebraska Airmen train for today's warfight
CBRNE Training
AirStaff Sgt. Jason Wilson

​More than 20 members of Nebraska Air National Guard’s 155th Air Refueling Wing completed their chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, refresher training course Feb. 4, 2018, at the Nebraska National Guard air base in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Air Force recently mandated all Airmen be trained on CBRNE every 18 months instead of every three years. The training begins with online training followed by hands-on training.
Getting all Airmen up to speed will be challenging but useful in this era of defense.

“We have until March 31, to get 900 plus members trained," said Staff Sgt. Ryne S. Packett, an emergency management journeyman with the 155th Civil Engineering Squadron. “The reason why the training went from three years to 18 months is due to recent events in the world. With the confirmed chemical attacks and the increase in deployment cycles, we want to make sure that our Airmen know what they are doing and how to use the gear.”

To adhere to the new guidance, multiple training events will be offered to get as many people current as possible.

“The process isn’t set in stone, but the goal is to get as many Airmen as we can through the class so we can knock the numbers down,” Packett said. “We are holding two classes today and will potentially have classes during the upcoming weeks for full-time guard members. We also have a class of 100 plus members scheduled for April and a bigger one in June.”

The two-hour course builds upon the online CBRNE computer-based training and provides Airmen hands-on practice so they can walk away with knowledge of the chemical detection process and their personal protective equipment.

“Students will learn how to read liquid detection points with the M-9 paper to detect any chemicals in the air and how to use the auto injector atropines," Packett said. “However, the main focus is on Airmen learning how to correctly put on and seal their mask and suit so that they can survive a chemical attack.”

shooting-for-perfection.aspx2/4/2018Shooting for perfection
AirAirman 1st Class Jamie Titus

Nineteen members of the Nebraska Air National Guard’s 155th Maintenance Group took part in annual weapons qualification training Feb. 3, 2018 at the Nebraska Army National Guard’s Greenlief Training Center, near Hastings, Nebraska.

Airmen with the 155th Air Refueling Wing in Lincoln, Nebraska, must qualify on the M4 carbine every year in order to stay proficient and be prepared for any situation they might encounter at home or abroad.


“Being part of the maintenance squadron, we travel with aircraft, since wherever the aircraft needs to go, is where the people go,” said Master Sgt. Lyle Stara, first sergeant for the 155th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “All the mechanics, all the hydraulics, all the (electrical and environmental) people have to be able to support the mission wherever the airplane and wherever the aircrew is and that can take us into any area, any hostile area. It could take us any place in the world where the airplane needs to go.”

The training began with a class on the basics of a the rifle. In that class they learned about safety features of the M4, what ammunition is compatible with it, how to take the rifle apart and put it back together, and how to clean it. They also learned about marksmanship fundamentals, and how to clear the weapon before and after using it.

Following classroom training, the Airmen moved to the range to apply what they had learned earlier. Eight members of the 155th Security Forces Squadron monitored the training, giving instruction on what they needed to adjust or fix in order to qualify with their weapon.

The value of the training was not lost on those being trained.

“I think it puts us at a position where there’s one less thing for us to worry about because we can be confident that if the case were to come to a point where we needed to defend (the aircraft)… we have the ability to do so and just protect that mission as a whole,” said Senior Airman Timothy Aulner, an aircraft electrical and environmental systems technician with the 155th MXG. “That can apply to anywhere in the U.S. or overseas as well.”

Training like this annually allows these Airmen to build muscle memory that they can fall back on if necessary.

“You can only do so much training,” said Potter. “But when a situation arises, you’re going to go back to your instincts and having this training basically built into you, constantly doing it year after year, it makes you a lot more confident that you’re going to be able to do your job effectively.”

Once trained, these Airmen can help security forces maintain a safety and security.

“The main importance of why we have to train everyone else is if we don’t have enough manning, we call on other squadrons to come on as augmentees and if they’re posted with a security forces member they will be armed up in that case,” said Staff Sgt. Brent Potter, a Combat Arms Training Maintenance (CATM) firearms instructor with the 155th SFS. “If the situation arises, they have to be qualified to use the M4. Say someone tries to take over an aircraft and the security forces member or someone of security can’t get there fast enough, there’s a trained and qualified individual that is with that asset to protect it and make sure it doesn’t get taken or damaged.”

Airmen must remain ready to deploy by consistently training in every area required in not only their own career field but in the skills every Airmen should have as a warrior Airmen.

“I think it’s pretty important that we are all trained, we’re ready, we’re willing to do whatever it takes to support the mission,” said Stara. “To support whatever we need to, to make sure that we’re ready and willing and able not knowing what could possibly be thrown in our direction.”​

Nebraska-National-Guard-air-base-personnel-brave-holiday-snow-.aspx1/16/2018Nebraska National Guard; Nebraska; Lincoln; Lincoln air base; Nebraska National Guard air base; security; cold; layers; mask; police; Nebraska National Guard air base personnel brave holiday snow, cold
JointSpc. Lisa Crawford

As the calendar turned from 2017 to 2018, most full-time Soldiers, Airmen and Nebraska Military Department civilian employees were off work enjoying the holidays in the warmth and comfort of their homes. But with temperatures in the state falling below even those in Antarctica, warmth wasn’t the case for everyone.

“It hurts,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Raymond Sturgeon, a security specialist with the 155th Security Forces Squadron. “It hurts when you breathe. It shouldn’t hurt when you breathe.”
Several full-time Soldiers, Airmen and civilian employees alike were left working around the clock to keep the Nebraska National Guard air base in Lincoln running over the holidays as cold temperatures plummeted to near record lows.
Sturgeon, considered one of just a few essential personnel, said the cold began to take a toll after he worked in the brutal temperatures for three days straight conducting vehicle inspections, checking IDs and securing buildings without much help over the New Year holiday.
“My sinuses were so inflamed from breathing the cold air that I was getting a migraine,” he said. 

“It was just painfully cold.” Army Sgt. Dylan Hergenrader, a full-time UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter mechanic, agreed, finding the cold temperatures to be miserable, especially for his first winter home following a year-long deployment last summer to Afghanistan.
“I prefer the cold to the heat, but at least when it’s hot out I can feel my fingers when I’m turning a wrench,” Hergenrader said.
Fortunately, most of Hergenrader’s job can be completed inside the heated hangar of the Nebraska National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility No. 1 on the air base in Lincoln.
“We can’t leave the aircraft outside very long in the cold like this because the (equipment) will contract and start leaking,” Hergenrader said.

“We usually do maintenance outside when it’s warmer, so now every time we even need to do something little we have to bring the birds in from the cold to work on them.” Army Spc. Tate Hanzlicek, a full-time petroleum supply specialist at AASF No. 1, isn’t as lucky.
“Refueling has to be done outside, and it takes at least 15 minutes to do that,” Hanzlicek said.
With temperatures near negative 20 degrees before the wind chills, Hanzlicek said he’s been spending even more time exposed readying fuel trucks and ensuring they start properly.
“The other day I had a problem with them starting because it was so cold, which always just makes the thing worse,” he said.
The AASF No. 1 crew is responsible for all rotary assets at the air base in Lincoln, including snow and ice removal from the flight line attached to the Army hangar. When the cold temperatures of winter hit, the crews take immediate action to tailor both preventative and reactive maintenance plans to the weather’s effects on equipment. And even as the weather warms, they will continue to monitor for possible issues.
“Any extreme one way or another is not good for them,” Hergenrader said.
“I compare it to being just like your body,” Hanzlicek said. “If you’re outside for long periods of time, you’re more prone to getting sick.”
While the Soldiers manage the Army hangar, the majority of the air base is maintained by the 155th Civil Engineer Squadron. The 155th CES is responsible for providing winter salt and shovels to individual buildings, and snow removal from sidewalks, main roads and the 155th Air Refueling Wing’s entire flight line, which supports multiple KC-135R Stratotanker refueling planes.
“It’s a collective effort,” said Janelle Priest, the base facilities maintenance manager. “I’m very fortunate for the people we have in the CES. They go out of their way to help out every craft. Even if they aren’t in roads and grounds, they will assist us with snow removal. Everybody helps everybody out.”
Priest said the first snow of the season, which came right before the Christmas holiday, was a great example of how the team comes together when there is a need.
“There’s just a lot sense of pride and ownership in what we do for the entire base,” Priest said about the team of Airmen and civilian employees who came in right before the holiday to clear the snow. “You might sacrifice a little now, but that’s okay when you take pride in your job.”
Keeping warm is the main concern Priest has for her staff, and everyone else working outdoors on the base in the extreme cold. She said she briefs her staff regularly on wearing proper cold-weather attire and personal protective equipment at all times, as well as limiting exposure by ensuring snow crews take needed breaks and rotate shifts.
“This type of cold isn’t very enjoyable,” Priest said. “So, unless you absolutely have to be outside, don’t.”
Sturgeon said the security personnel manning the front gate try to keep a good exposure cycle, but that isn’t always possible.
“The main thing that can help us is for people visiting the base to make sure they are ready with their ID when they pull up to the gate,” Sturgeon said. “Not being ready just means more time we’re all exposed to the elements, so having the appropriate paperwork ready to go helps lessen everybody’s exposure.”
Sturgeon also encourages everyone coming onto base to be dressed in weather-appropriate attire at all times, as the security forces mission never stops.
“We’re here 24/7, 365 days a year, and we still have all out anti-terrorism efforts to meet,” Sturgeon said. “Dress for the weather, not your destination, so you don’t find yourself randomly selected for a vehicle inspection while you’re wearing shorts and flip flops in subzero temperatures.”
“Still,” Sturgeon added, “fingers crossed this is the coldest weather we’ll see this winter.”

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