Kentucky and Indiana teamwork headed to Guantanamo Bay

Story by Pfc. Sarah Anderson, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Staff Sgt. Lasima Packett of the Indiana National Guard’s 120th Public Affairs Detachment speaks with Staff Sgt. Gina Vaile-Nelson and Sgt. Cody Stagner of the Kentucky Guard’s 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment during a training exercise in Frankfort, Ky., Feb. 7, 2013. The two units gathered together for a joint training exercise to prepare them for an upcoming deployment to Cuba.(Kentucky National Guard photo by Spc. Brandy Mort, 133rd MPAD)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — When some think of Indiana and Kentucky getting together, it’s on the hardwood of Rupp Arena or Assembly Hall.  That rivalry alone can pit the neighboring states against each other every basketball season.  But recently, some of the best Soldiers from Indiana and Kentucky gathered not to compete, but to train for an upcoming joint mission sharing common goals with a beginning of true teamwork.

Soldiers of the Kentucky Guard’s 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment and the Indiana Guard’s 120th Public Affairs Detachment conducted a week-long training exercise in Frankfort, Ky. Feb. 3 – 9.  The two units will deploy together in the spring to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for a scheduled nine-month rotation.

“The purpose of the training was to meet with our sister unit and train as a group before we go down range,” said Capt. Desiree L.P. Ewer, the commander of the 133rd.

The units will assist Joint Task Force Guantanamo’s public affairs office with media operations during their stay on the island.  In preparation for their deployment three Defense Information School instructors assisted the units in their training.

“The DINFOS instructors brought realistic training and excellent knowledge to our deploying units,” said Ewer. “ We thank them immensely.”

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Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard’s 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment and the Indiana National Guard’s 120th Public Affairs Detachment participate in a conference call during a week long training exercise in Frankfort, Ky., Feb. 8, 2013. The Soldiers had the opportunity to speak with leadership at the U.S. Army Public Affairs Office at the Pentagon regarding their training and developments in the field. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Sgt. David Bolton, 133rd MPAD)

During their training the instructors reviewed basic public affairs skills that the Soldiers will need while in Cuba.  Public affairs is primarily made up of print journalists and broadcast journalists, each with their own skill set and roles.

As part of the six-day training period, command staff and the instructors created a simulated media operations center similar to the one at Guantanamo Bay.

“We felt that this training was viable to our mission in Cuba,” said Sgt. Cassandra Monroe, a public affairs specialist with the 120th. “It was great to be able to train on media operations. We feel that the experience was outstanding.”

During the exercise the Soldiers were given realistic scenarios to respond to in order to prepare them for the potentially hectic atmosphere in Cuba.

“The MOC training was very realistic to what we may face on our deployment,” said Monroe. “ It was a great opportunity to train with the 133rd MPAD and learn from each other.”

The simulated MOC was treated as if it was a real media center.  And the units seemed to fuse together to form an early bond to succeed in each task presented to them. Soldiers and leadership alike complimented each other on how well they worked as a team, especially as very few of them had met before.

“I was in awe of how well we worked together and the level of professionalism in our products,” said Ewer. “I look forward to seeing our Soldiers develop professionally and compile a body of work to bring back with them.”

Soldiers from both units appreciated the hard work shared and are anxious to continue the new friendships overseas.

“I’m really looking forward to deploying to Cuba with the 133rd,” said Monroe. “I think it will be a great experience for both units and I feel that we will get along great.”

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