Infantrymen receive Civil Response training

Sgt. 1st Class Stone with the 617th Military Police Company oversees Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry on handling batons at the Harold L. Disney Training Center in Artemus, Ky. July 28, 2020. Stone has served in the Kentucky National Guard for 16 years. (U.S. Army National Guard photo Spc. Harrison Moore)

By: Spc. Harrison Moore, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

ARTEMUS, Ky. — Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry, took part in Civil Response Training during their unit’s annual training at Harold L. Disney Training Center from July 25 – 28.

A civil response mission for the Kentucky National Guard includes civil disturbances such as riots, demonstrations, and individuals assembling to threaten life or property.

The training was overseen by Guardsmen assigned to the 223rd, 617th, and 1103rd Military Police Companies.

“Our National Guard has responded to civil unrest in several states and the District of Columbia,” said Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Director of the Army National Guard.  “As part of a national call for justice and racial equality, Soldiers and Airmen were there to protect our First Amendment rights and preserve public safety in the communities where we live.”

The intent of this training is to equip Soldiers of the 1-149th with the skills and knowledge to protect the life and liberty of the members of the Commonwealth of Kentucky when asked to assist local law enforcement for civil disturbance response.

“We are lucky to get this training to protect our commonwealth,” said Capt. Eileen Miller, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company and first female Infantry commander in Kentucky history. “Hopefully, we never have to use it, but I want my Soldiers to be ready for anything they call us for.”

Trainers incorporated classroom learning with hands-on demonstrations to familiarize Soldiers with unusual equipment, such as batons and riot shields.

“The value of cross-training and bringing in experts from around the state is paramount,” said Lt. Benjamin Smith, the scout platoon leader for the battalion. “It’s one thing to look at the training in paper manuals, but having Soldiers doing hands-on training is far better.”

“I want our Soldiers to have confidence in their equipment and the task at hand,” Smith added. “Knowing the ground rules helps us better support the community when called upon.”

Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry hold shields as part of training during annual training at Harold L. Disney Training Center in Artemus, Ky. July 28, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo Spc. Harrison Moore)

Classroom instruction also included how Soldiers can incorporate access control points and traffic control points for added protection on city streets and roadways.

Outdoors, they practiced different formations to simulate various civil unrest situations. Soldiers lined up shoulder to shoulder, interlocked their shields, then practiced movement as a unit. They learned that communicating and holding a tight formation is strongest to hold off rioters from entering a certain area.

Non-commissioned officers with decades of combined law-enforcement experience enhanced training.

“Civil support is an unfamiliar environment. Our job is to familiarize them in this new area and to make them better Soldiers by giving them this valuable skill set,” said Sgt. 1st Class Bradford Stone, 617th Military Police Company.

Stone has served in the National Guard for 16 years and was the lead instructor during the training.

“Whether it is helping during storm relief and natural disasters or responding to support local law enforcement with crowd control, we always try to make the situation better,” said Stone.

“Keeping our communities safe is a core mission of the National Guard, and that is the primary aim of this training,” said Sgt. Jacob Ernst, 223rd Military Police Company. “When a unit is called up for a civil disturbance response, the primary goal is to augment local law enforcement and to provide support.”

Ernst said that Soldiers are trained to use force only when necessary, and the force applied should really focus on deescalating the situation.

Soldiers fresh out of initial Infantry training typically have not received civil-disturbance related training, because their primary specialty covers mostly combat maneuvers.

“We take the training very seriously. And we are grateful for the hands-on learning experience provided by the Military Police,” said Pfc. David Boian, an indirect fire infantryman assigned to the mortar platoon.

“During our one-weekend-a-month drill, we rarely have time for these hands-on training,” said Boian. “But, this annual training is preparing us for if we need to respond to the community in this manner.”

These infantrymen will now be better prepared to augment local law enforcement in cases of civil disturbances. Training like this emphasizes mission readiness and the Kentucky National Guard’s commitment to protecting members of the community.

“Overall, the Civil Disturbance Training gives these infantrymen the tools and knowledge they need to be successful in one of the many ways they may be asked to serve,” said Ernst.

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