Tennessee State Guard is Ready for Incident Communications
After more than three years of intensive training in emergency management and communications policies and procedures, the 3rd Regiment of the Tennessee State Guard has adopted the slogan, “We are Ready!”
“The promise I made the Regiment was that when they could demonstrate capabilities to successfully accomplish our mission we would hang a sign over the door that states, ‘We are Ready!’” said 3rd Regiment Commander, Colonel Tony Shipley. “The performance of this regiment during Vigilant Guard 2017 demonstrated that the 3rd is ready to deploy and serve effectively whenever we are called. We are ready.”
Preparing for natural and man-made disasters is a primary training requirement among emergency response agencies and military organizations tasked with state defense operations. Operating in a structured environment, using standardized command principles, and coordinating among multiple agencies is paramount to the successful operation. As all emergency management professionals know, timely and effective communications is key to having a positive outcome.
The 3rd Regiment training program was developed by Major Theodore E. Shelton, Jr. and Captain Marc L. Rednour of the Operations and Training Section, in conjunction with communicators CSM Johnny M. Essary, CSM D. Scott Caudill and Captain Lee Harrison. The training paradigm is based on breaking large tasks down into small manageable units that can be effectively explained, taught and learned. Soldiers learn best through repetitive acts based on understandable reasoning
Training at regimental and battalion drills involved standardized FEMA Incident Command System training along with ongoing communications practice. Support and assistance to soldiers encouraged all to seek the FCC Amateur Radio General license. Practice networks operate weekly and include digital training with FLDIGI and WINLINK to enhance the capability to transfer vital data in multiple and redundant formats. Integrating ICS knowledge with All Hazards Communications Leader (COMML) training built competency allowing the soldiers the ability to perform at a professional level.
Having achieved this level of capability, the training continues. Through FEMA National Incident Management Training available through online courses, regiment personnel are required to attain the SGAUS BASIC MEMS qualification and encouraged to seek more advanced individual skill-sets through local and state EMA training. Battalion and Regiment leaders urge soldiers to study further and participate in disaster exercises to earn SENIOR and MASTER badges and to pursue higher levels of FCC Amateur Radio licensure.
The TNSG Annual Training 2017 disaster exercise, Operation Vigilant Guard 2017, simulated a multistate disaster. Mobile Radio Package (MRP) teams were deployed into the field to assess, report, and search. Integrating search and rescue skills and using imbedded field medical personnel, these MRP teams participated in search and recovery of downed aircraft in a realistic functional exercise.
Command military elements integrated with other agencies based upon a multi-agency command center format. ICS principles and military training were blended to effectuate effective command guidance and coordination of the field teams. Utilizing the standard ICS ‘forms’ proved to be an essential asset to smoothly coordinate the command component of the exercise and demonstrate that the Regiment had trained in the exact way it would expect to react in a real-world event. It was evident that the Third Regiment’s determination and training had paid off as they integrated with non-military agencies in the planning and execution of the exercise.
Combining all these mastered skills into a functional skill set proved that the preparation and training worked. The exercise after-action brief declared “The Third Regiment is ready!”
A member of a 3rd Regiment Mobile Radio Package reconnaissance team, 1SG(TN) Michael L. Seals performs emergency triage on a “casualty” from a simulated helicopter crash during Exercise Vigilant Guard 2017 at the National Guard Training Site at Smyrna, TN. (Photo by SGT(TN) Rhonda Beffre)
CSM(TN) D. Scott Caudill (center) operates a remote battalion tactical operations center with SSG Ron Vowell (left) during Operation Aspen Arrow 2015, part of the ongoing training of 3rd Regiment personnel in emergency recovery operations and communications. (Photo by SGT(TN) Rhonda Beffre)