Working with the 224th Sustainment Brigade
LONG BEACH, Calif. – California State Military Reservists took advantage of a rare opportunity to work with California National Guard Soldiers of the 224th Sustainment Brigade of Long Beach, Calif. during drivers’ training, May 5, 2013, at the Long Beach armory.
Personnel from the CSMR’s 3rd Brigade of Los Alamitos embedded with the 224th Sust. Bde. in April 2013 as part of a pilot program that marked the first occasion that the 3rd Bde. has ever worked in unison with a California National Guard unit.
The 24 CSMR personnel joined the 224th Sust. Bde. to provide assistance and allow Soldiers an opportunity to cross-train.
Sgt. Alfredo Rosas, wheeled mechanic with the 224th Sust. Bde. and a resident of Moreno Valley, Calif., served as the non-commissioned officer-in-charge (NCOIC) during the drivers’ training exercise with the CSMR.
“They are learning how to drive the MTV [medium tactical vehicle], which is the up-armored vehicle expand-o-van,” Rosas said. “They are getting familiar with the vehicle and they are learning how all the equipment works—how to tilt the bed and how to take down the tire.”
Rosas, who has been conducting drivers’ training for about four years, said that the most challenging part of the training is driving the vehicle on the street; it is very wide, and it has a lot of blind spots.
He said that he enjoyed working with the CSMR. “My favorite part of the training is working with the CSMR,” he said. “I liked learning from them. They have a lot of civilian experience and they’re offering it to us. They don’t get paid; they buy their own uniforms. I’m very happy that I’m working with this type of personnel.”
Formed in 1848, and headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., the CSMR consists of citizens with a variety of skills. Many of its personnel are veterans of other branches of the U.S. military as well as former members of the California Army and Air National Guard. They are unpaid, except when called to emergency state active duty.
Spec. Martin Garcia, California State Military Reservist with the 3rd Battalion out of Los Alamitos, Calif., and a police officer with the Oxnard County Police Department, said that he enjoyed working with the 224th Sust. Bde.
“I have a lot of gratitude for the 224th for bringing us in with open arms,” Garcia said. “They welcomed us and fed us. I appreciate the time they’re taking to train us.”
He explained why the hands-on approach was his favorite aspect of the training. “In the classroom we could sit here all day long and look at the books,” he said. “You look at the TMs [training manuals] and they’re confusing until you sit in front of the actual vehicle that you’re dealing with, and then it makes sense. We’re doing the familiarization and the pre-maintenance inspection, turning it on and turn it off, and checking all the fluids.”
The CSMR unit has acquired many skills through cross-training. “We trained in basic search-and-rescue operation and small arms training,” Garcia said. “One of our primary missions out of Los Alamitos was to go to Camp Roberts and run the ranges for the California National Guard.”
Sgt. 1st Class Mike Nguyen, CSMR with the 3rd Battalion and a resident of Long Beach, Calif., said that his personnel enjoyed drivers’ training. “They love learning how to use the equipment,” Nguyen said. “This is exactly what we sold them on when we said we were going to Long Beach. The CSMR use their skill set to enhance the capability of the Guard.”
For Nguyen, the most challenging aspect of drivers’ training was the fine details. “No one detail is less important than the other,” he said. “You have to have a methodical mind to just get the vehicle started and maintained. You have to make sure that it’s actually a working vehicle for the mission.”
“My favorite part of the training is watching my Soldiers just light up,” he said. “They’re enthusiastic about this training and about being able to rub shoulders with the Guard and getting to know the Soldiers. My NCOs have been pushing for this training, so it’s good to see that it’s actually happening. We volunteered as a platoon. We’re happy to be here.”
Story by Sgt. Glen Baker, ARNG