If any Soldiers, Airmen or Naval personnel had to locate the 1st Brigade of the California State Military Reserves, Regional Support Command (South), from the 18th thru the 23rd of September, most likely they could not locate the unit at Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos.
In this current training cycle, the 1st Bde conducted Annual Training at the Camp Talega Training Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA., from 17 – 23 SEP 2015. The number of Soldiers training at any one time fluctuated, depending on the Soldiers civilian obligations and other commitments. Sixty-six percent of the total number of Soldiers had boots on the ground for one or more days. Nearly one-hundred 1 Bde staff and Soldiers, from its three battalions, participated.
All training modules reached forward to include responsible budgeting of both time and expenses. Any oversight inspection would easily regard the constant and consistent safety and risk management planning as flexible, yet definitive and continuous. To a varying degree, the heat index neutralized activities; but, shifting resources on the ground permitted continued training.
The opening days of training brought Soldiers into quonset huts to complete Common Task Training (CTT): Communications, First Aid and Navigation.
Communication’s class took place right after first formation. Col. (CA) Terry Lee lead the class. His course combined working on different types of radios and skills in how to “enter a radio net, send a message, and leave a radio net. Use the proper call signs, call sign sequence, pro-words, and phonetic alphabet and numerals.”
First Aid, included immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), a lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies especially when someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. Capt. (CA) Scott Coerper, Capt. (CA) Michael Loney and Command Sgt. Maj. (CA) Richard Moriarty conducted this training task, and also introduced the automated external defibrillator (AED). This instrument, when used properly, can counter an irregular heartbeat that gets dangerously fast and can lead to cardiac arrest.
Land Navigation instruction required materials dispensed to each Soldier. Maps, protractors, handouts and a Department of the Army publication, How To Find Your Way, helped everyone join the discussion and group activity. Sgts. Jonathan Scholtz and Carlos Marquez instructed this class, preparing those who could walk the nav course, for an estimated total of 5 miles, mostly uphill!
On the other hand, while soldiers prepared to extend themselves across the terrain, several elected and appointed officials met with the Regional Support Command (South) and 1st Bde leadership. Actually, two Soldiers in the Bde, Capt. (CA) Councilman Brian Campbell of Rancho Palos Verdes and Sgt. 1st Class Mayor/Councilman Glenn Miller of Indio, CA. sat with State Senator Jeff Stone of the 28th District, to listen Col. (CA) Joseph von Sauers and Lt. Col. (CA) Chuck Hardman, brigade commander and chief of staff, respectively, present their concerns about the CSMR’s mission. Also on deck, Col. (CA) Donald Thornley, commander of the RSC(S), listened attentively to the presentation.
Following the land nav course, a subsequent class, on points of distribution (POD), began in the evening, after evening colors. This course employs factors from FEMA’s IS-26 Guide to Points of Distribution. When in operation, a POD distributes life sustaining materials to a population during a disaster or an emergency, natural or man made. Prior to classroom instruction, Soldiers received their assignments as POD Managers, Loading Team Leaders, and Support Team Leaders. Chief Warrant Officer (CA) Val Usle explained the three types of PODs, the types of equipment utilized at the PODs, the various forms and checklists, methods for tactical deployment and liaison with local emergency management agencies.
The end state for the AT happened on two separate days. Soldiers received primary marksmanship instruction (PMI) and preventative maintenance checks and service (PMCS). Then, Soldiers took transport to the United States Marine Corps indoor simulated marksmanship trainer (ISMT) unit, where marksmanship instructors, while using the engagement skills trainer system (EST), supervised 1st Bde Soldiers onto firing lanes.
Despite the time of day and the urge to rest and recuperation, a swift media presentation on suicide awareness came from the Chaplains in building 64322, a structure that changed over from a recreation center.
Prior to demobilization/evacuation of Camp Talega, 1st Bde Soldiers traveled to the Marine Corps Infantry Immersion Trainer (IIT). The mission of the IIT “… provides a training facility for “hands on” practical application of tactical skills and decision making in an immersive, scenario-based training environment.” Several CSMR Soldiers gave instruction and led teams, rotating them from outdoor to indoor stations. Time spent on task developed the scenario of searching for victims during a natural disaster. Soldiers walked through darkened structures, carried notional victims, used the search marking system and had to know how to make a medevac request.
Overall, the AT went well. Soldiers needed to understand the requirements of having to spend more than just a weekend at a unit training assembly in order to: find out what it takes to work as a unit, endure heat, walk along obscured pathways and to find reserved strength to complete their missions.
While observing RSC(S) Soldiers taking a lunch near the ISMT unit, 1st Bn 1st Sgt. (CA) Donald Polny stated the impact of the orders, “Yes, they will surely have many memories of today’s activities!”