Aug. 6, 2010

91st Troop Command conducts AT across the commonwealth 

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers from assorted units within the Sandston-based 91st Troop Command trained across the commonwealth in a multitude of locations July 17-31 for their two weeks of annual training. The units trained in many of their unit specific missions, such as engineer operations at Fort Pickett and Richmond, and Military Police operations at Fort Pickett. In addition to the military occupational specialty-specific training, many of the Soldiers of the 91st participated in a week-long readiness exercise known as Irish Heat in Sandston that honed the Virginia Guard’s homeland defense preparedness and ability to respond to natural disasters.


A Soldier from the 266th Military Police Company rappels from the tower at Fort Pickett during te 91st Troop Command's two-wwek annual training July 23. Following the block of instruction on the rappel tower, the Soldiers of the 266th ran through the Air Assault obstacle course. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginina Guard Public Affairs)

“Annual training is important to conduct as Guardsmen because other than deployments or state emergency missions this is the only time we can come together for more than two to three days and accomplish a larger project,” according to 1st Lt. Adam Provost, assistant operations officer of the 91st Troop Command. “It helps us maintain and remain proficient through an extended operational tempo that can't be created during a drill weekend.”

The high tempo training period kept Soldiers occupied working on their specific roles in the Guard. Engineers of the Cedar Bluff-based 1033rd Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion spent several days improving berms on multiple ranges at Fort Pickett while engineers from the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion began work on the first phase of improvements to clear undergrowth in the Cannon Creek Parkway in Richmond as part of an ongoing community reclamation project.

“The training was relevant to Guardsmen maintaining their particular fields because it was kept MOS specific rather than Army centric,” said Provost, who also commands the 1033rd Engineer Company. “Equipment operators, bulldozer drivers and dump truck drivers were actually running equipment rather than just doing battle drills.”


The Adjutant General of Virginia, Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr. talks to 1st Lt. Adam Provost, commander of the 1033rd Engineer Company at Fort Pickett during 91st Troop Command annual training July 27. Soldiers of the 1033rd were working on improving berms on Fort Pickett while the commonwealth's top officer observed the training with the company commander. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The MP units of the 91st, the Manassas-based 266th MP Company and the Virginia Beach-based 229h MP Company rear detachment, also worked hard to maintain proficiency in their field by building on convoy movement operations, cordon and search techniques, reacting to contact, and principles of law and order, according to Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Gomez, noncommissioned officer in charge of readiness for the 229th. The Soldiers also spent a day navigating the Air Assault obstacle course and rappel tower at Fort Pickett.

“The training during AT was relevant for a Military Police Soldier to stay proficient in all tasks,” said Gomez. “The tasks of a Military Police Soldier need to be diverse in all areas of their assigned MOS due to the Military Police being called upon to work in different situations around the world.” 

Also actively working on their combined skill sets in the 91st were the Soldiers of the Bowling Green-based 189th Engineer Company (Multi-role Bridge Company), who conducted bridge and boat training at Fort A.P. Hill July 28. "Using boats, Soldiers pushed dropped ribbon bridge bays together to form a raft. The rafts can be used to ferry vehicles across a water obstacle, or they can be fastened to together to form a floating bridge," according to Capt. Matt Nowak, who took command of the 189th during AT.

While most units of the 91st trained specifically in their MOS during annual training, Soldiers of the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion trained to take over the state's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High-Yield Explosive Emergency Response Force Package, or CERF-P (pronounced surf-pea).

"It's a homeland security mission we have here in Virginia," said Capt. Jonathan York, commander of the West Point-based 237th. "We assist the local authorities whenever there is any type of natural disaster or manmade incident that happens within the commonwealth of Virginia and beyond."

Soldiers of the 276th's 237th Engineer Company conducted their annual training at Fort Pickett in June in preparation for an external evaluation June 18 at the Henrico Fire Academy where they worked in conjunction with more than 350 emergency responders.

In addition to the warrior training that was held during the two weeks, the 91st Troop Command also conducted a change-of-command ceremony at Fort Pickett between outgoing commander, Col. Steven Scott and incoming commander, Col. Walter Mercer. The unit also held a welcome home ceremony for the main body of the 229th in Virginia Beach, which returned from a year-long federal tour to Iraq.

“Having the opportunity to command at this level is an honor. It’s great to come back from the War College to this position,” said Mercer. “During our AT, we were able to welcome home the 229th, and we are glad to have them back, and we are ready to help them get reintegrated with their families and civilian careers.”

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