Guam – Some 600 men and women of the Guam Army National Guard (GUARNG) are returning home after three weeks of combat training in California.
The Soldiers, from the 1-294th Infantry Regiment and its attached supporting element, F Company, 29th Brigade Support Battalion, started flying in on Sunday, on both commercial and military transport aircraft. More Soldiers returned over the last couple of days and the rest are expected to arrive today.
[SSG Clint Rosario is greeted by his spouse on his arrival at the GIAA. Rosario was one of over 600 Soldiers returning to Guam after combat training at Camp Roberts, CA. (GUNG photo by CPT Ken Ola)]
The Soldiers spent three weeks at Camp Roberts, CA to perform their annual training. The training focused on individual and squad level training for Soldiers assigned to the battalion, as it prepares for its pending deployment to Afghanistan early next year, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, according to LTC Michael Tougher, battalion commander.
“Training highlights included an emphasis in rifle marksmanship and crew served weapons training,” Tougher said. “Our units also used the opportunity to qualify vehicle crews on mounted gunnery tasks which directly support our anticipated mission.”
The base is typically used by Army National Guard and Army Reserve units for their collective training. The Maneuver Training Center (MTC) Camp Roberts covers a 42,361-acre site that is considered the largest training area under the control of the California Army National Guard (CAARNG). It can support the training requirements of light and heavy maneuver (mounted and dismounted) training, live-fire ranges from small arms to crew serve weapons, aerial gunnery, drop zones, and limited airfield needs on two airfields.
Soldiers from the battalion said Camp Roberts was an environment that offered them much learning opportunities to prepare for deployment.
SPC Jesse J. Camacho, from A Co, said he expected the battalion to hit the ground running when they got there, and they did. “Everything was to the T… The ranges there were top of the line.”
Camacho, who deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom with A Co in 2008, noted that Camp Roberts’ training environment gave Soldiers a good glimpse of where they will be deployed.
“How that place was is exactly how Afghanistan was. Everything was realistic, so it gave us lower echelon a greater picture of what we will be seeing downrange,” Camacho said.
SSG Gene Guzman Jr, squad leader for B Co, 1st Plt, 3rd Sqd, said the variety of training helped his Soldiers in their combat skills.
“The training that we did out there, from weapons, to handgrenades, to movements, the virtual trainer, was really good. A lot of the lower enlisted learned from it,” Guzman said.
Most of the Soldiers in his squad are seasoned Soldiers, he said, but, “for the guys that are brand new to the squad, they learned a lot. They actually want to learn more,” Guzman added.
The air movement to and from Camp Roberts was possibly the largest for Guard Soldiers on annual training, according to unit leaders, where more than 600 Soldiers were transported to a training site about 8,000 miles away.
Several states with Air National Guard assets supported the air movement to California, according to LTC George Charfauros, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans. These states included Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Maine Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
For the return of the Soldiers, the units that supported the air movement included the 164th Airlift Wing (TNANG), 122st Air Refueling Wing (OHANG), 161ARW (AZANG), 101st ARW (MEANG), 172nd AW (MSANG), and 146th AW (CAANG).
The GUARNG received the alert order for its 1-294th IN and F Company, 29th BSB for deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom late last year.
The alert order is a step in the process leading to mobilization. It also gives the GUARNG and the 1-294th IN command the time and resources it needs to meet the training and validation requirements before the unit reports to its mobilization station, and complete training before deploying into their area of operations.
The 1-294th IN is composed of Soldiers from Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Sixteen Soldiers from the CNMI participated in the annual training.
The anticipated activation of the 1-294th IN RGT may also be considered as the largest group of reserve component troops to be mobilized and deployed from Guam.