Annual training en masse for Kentucky’s largest brigade

By Sgt. Taylor Tribble, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

Pfc. Timothy Brown with the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade practices buddy movements during the unit’s annual training at the Harold L. Disney Training Center in Artemus, Ky., June 8, 2017. The brigade focused on Army Warrior Tasks and other training as part of an overall Defense Support of Civil Authorities exercise. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Taylor Tribble)

ARTEMUS, Ky. — More than three battalions of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade put their collaborative skills to the test during a civil support exercise as part of the unit’s annual training at the Harold L. Disney Training Center in Artemus, Ky., June 2-16.

The large-scale exercise included a National Guard response to a major earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone in Western Kentucky. As Kentucky’s largest and most diverse brigade, the 149th would potentially lead Kentucky Guard operations to support relief efforts in the wake of such a catastrophe.

“Whenever Kentucky needs Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade is often the among the first National Guard units called to service.” Said Col. Alexander Stewart, commander of the 149th. “With a unique structure of chemical, military police and engineer battalions, along with a brigade support battalion, signal and headquarters companies, the 149th is capable of responding to natural disasters and civil disturbances of all types.”

Maj. Bill Riley, future operations officer with the 149th, said the state has utilized the MEB multiple times in the past. “We provided the state with emergency management assistance when the ice storms hit in 2008-2009, with flood relief in Western Kentucky in 2010-2011, and with tornado relief in Northern Kentucky in 2012,” said Riley. “If a major earthquake scenario were to happen in the future, the Legion Brigade will be ready.”

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The 149th received support from the 1st Army East, 4th Calvary Division and Mission Command Training Support Program’s Doctrinal Training Team based out of Camp Atterbury, Indiana. “We provide doctrinal expertise on mission control and command post operations” said Toby Hale, an Advisor from Elizabethtown, Kentucky. These advisors were able to view how the Brigade Staff conducted operations and provide insight on what changes could be made to run a more efficient command post.

The Soldiers who make up these different assets in the 149th focused their training on their specific tasks and skills they would need to perform during DSCA mission scenarios.

Staff Sgt. James Payne, a medic from Louisville, Kentucky with the 149th, said his Soldiers worked together and honed their MEDEVAC (medical evacuation) skills in a realistic environment.

“All of my medics got to train on loading and unloading out of a helicopter,” said Payne. “This was really great training for us because loading/unloading is so much more of a challenging experience when the turbines are going, the rotors are spinning, and the wind is blowing.”

Soldiers also engaged in Army Warrior Task training to fine tune their basic soldiering skills in a peace-time environment.

Pfc. Dewuan Elfalan, a chemical soldier from Louisville, KY with the 149th said he received quality instruction that kept him engaged. “We used our knowledge as soldiers to come together as a unit and accomplish the mission at hand.” Elfalan said he is now even more confident in his abilities to help the state if the need arises.

Riley said this exercise is the first of many that will occur over the next two years. “The next step is a national level exercise rehearsal with the State Joint Operation Center in preparation for a national level training exercise” said Riley. “From now until June of next year we will plan for a larger scale exercise to include FEMA’s involvement if a disaster were to occur.”

Annual training plays a large role in a National Guard Soldier’s training. It gives them a chance to put their skills to the test, hone the skills they’ve been taught, learn new skills, and build camaraderie with their fellow Soldiers.

”The 149th is honored to serve Kentucky communities whenever overwhelming circumstances are in play, and now even more prepared than before after completing a successful AT 2017,” said Stewart.