Kentucky MCPOD conducts Eagle Talon II with 101st Airborne

By Spc. Alan Royalty,101st Main Command Post – Operational Detachment (MCP-OD) Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Tim Williams, cable systems maintainer, assigned to the 101st Main Command Post—Operational Detachment (MCPOD), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), instructs Soldiers on mission directives for communication systems during Eagle Talon II at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Jan. 8, 2018. National Guardsmen in the MCPOD integrated with the 101st in January to conduct an annual training exercise. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Alan Royalty, 101st Main Command Post-Operational Detachment)

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Kentucky National Guardsmen assigned to the Main Command Post—Operational Detachment (MCP-OD), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), conducted Eagle Talon II, a comprehensive deployment simulation, alongside Active duty Soldiers here Jan. 2-12, 2018.

Eagle Talon II marks the latest chapter of partnership between the Kentucky National Guard and the 101st.

MCP-ODs result from a unique Department of Defense directive to augment and assist active duty units with high-caliber Guardsmen during training exercises and on deployments. The additional personnel and skillsets are critical as changes in Army force structure have reduced the availability of division staff.

While this served as annual training for the Guardsmen, Eagle Talon II also prepares both MCP-OD and 101st Soldiers for an upcoming warfighter exercise, leading into a deployment overseas later this year.

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Lt. Col. Tom Roach, commander of the MCP-OD, regularly coordinates with the division headquarters to organize and conduct training exercises that accurately simulate the demands and expectations of every Soldier while on deployment.

“The division staff has worked to maximize our training opportunity and it has paid off,” said Roach. “By look, conduct, and professionalism, the team is indistinguishable between Active and Guard.”

Kentucky Guardsmen come to the 101st equipped with training and knowledge from a variety of military occupational specialties. In addition to their Army expertise, Guardsmen also bring a wealth of valuable skills and insight from their civilian jobs.

“Guard Soldiers have a lot of job experience in the civilian world,” said Spc. Nicholas Krug, a help desk technician with the Signal, Intelligence and Sustainment Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division.

Having never trained with National Guardsmen prior to Eagle Talon II, Krug said he now appreciates the advantages of a Soldier who also lives a civilian life.

“They bring that knowledge in here and it really helps out,” he said.

Eagle Talon II included training opportunities on conducting battle damage assessments, erecting security measures, installing communication wiring, and collaborating with division headquarters to accomplish additional mission goals.

For Staff Sgt. Tim Williams, a cable system installer-maintainer and Louisville, Kentucky-native assigned to the MCP-OD, this was his first time working with active duty Soldiers in this capacity.

“We were received with open-arms,” he said. “They were knowledgeable and shared their expertise with us and vice versa.”

In his civilian life, Williams works as a supervisor for the United States Postal Service and he attributes a portion of his military success to his civilian experience.

“At the post office, we specialize in customer service and utilizing specific network systems to get the job done,” he said.

“While maintaining the help desk during this exercise, my civilian experience allows me to deal with the chaotic influx of network connection requests which require immediate troubleshooting,” he said.

As both Army components prepare for the future exercises and deployments, they continue to train together to actively accomplish the Army’s mission.

“We look forward to continuing our experiential growth and integration with the 101st during the upcoming warfighter,” said Roach.