MELROSE, Mass. – The 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts National Guard began its final annual training here March 6 in preparation for its deployment to Afghanistan later this month.
The annual training is slated to last until March 25 and will include briefings on the Laws of Armed Conflict, training in first aid and counterinsurgency tactics and a variety of services to ensure that Soldiers have their affairs in order and are fit to deploy. The training is designed to ensure that soldiers will be able ready when they leave for mobilization training at Camp Attebury, Ind., at the end of the month.
“My overall goal is to ensure that every single soldier is prepared for deployment to the combat zone,” said 1st Sgt. David T. Porterfield, first sergeant, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-182nd Infantry Regiment.
To achieve this, Soldiers will undergo a week’s worth of marking their bags and equipment, briefings on the area of operations and proper conduct in the warzone as well as a week of Combat Lifesaver training.
“HHC’s mission will be to provide security to the Camp Phoenix complex and to conduct patrols in the greater Kabul area,” said Capt. Jeffrey W. Arleque, the commander of HHC. “My greatest focus is on ensuring that we are ready to accomplish our mission safely.”
Arleque described his top three priorities for annual training as achieving proficiency in counterinsurgency operations, validation of Soldiers’ proficiency in a variety of soldierly tasks collectively called the Warrior Tasks, and fostering team-building within the company.
In the midst of all of this training, however, separation from family can present a challenge even this early in the deployment process. “I’m as ready as one can be and part of me is excited, but the other part of me is going to miss my wife and daughters,” said Spc. John P. Torchetti, a scout with HHC.
“The most difficult thing is making sure everyone is set with family,” said Sgt. 1st Class David L. Young, the platoon sergeant of HHC’s Support Platoon.
In order to ensure that family issues were dealt with, Soldiers with HHC had the opportunity to consult with legal counsel from the Judge Advocate General throughout the day. Soldiers were given free access to counsel who provided wills and powers of attorney.
“The number one thing is to take care of the Soldiers’ affairs before they deploy with things like wills and powers of attorney,” said Maj. Shannon L. McLaughlin, a lawyer with the Judge Advocate General’s office at Joint Force Headquarters. “Failing to take care of this ahead of time can cause significant stress and negative consequences.”
McLaughlin and other JAG representatives will be working with the 182nd throughout annual training to ensure that Soldiers’ legal needs are met without disturbing the unit’s training schedule. “They don’t have time to waste,” McLaughlin said. “We’ll be here every weekend this month and throughout the week to provide a high level of convenience.”
To make the separation from family less burdensome, the chain of command signaled its intent to provide Soldiers with extra time home before leaving for mobilization. “My intent is to have the maximum amount of Soldiers possible spend time with their families towards the end of annual training,” said Arleque.
The mission, however, will come first and the Soldiers will be ready. “My troops are all set, ready to go,” said Young.“We will be 100 percent ready for any missions that may come down while we’re over there,” said Arleque.