Tag Archives: army national guard

Wyoming unit trains in the California heat

On May 31, over 60 soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, based out of Afton and Evanston in Wyoming, traded in the normally cool weather of Wyoming for the desert oasis of the National Training Center in Ft. Irwin, California.

Within the expansive sandpit at Ft. Irwin, deemed ‘the box’, Wyoming soldiers met up with other units from around the U.S. in order to participate in training missions. These missions were geared toward helping soldiers be better prepared for future potential deployments.

“The NTC is known for training up companies and organizations to go and deploy,” said 1st Lt. Alyssa Brenner, commander of 1-297th. “What we are doing here is supporting a division-sized movement. Our role as light infantry is to be the decisive operation, clear urban areas, and learn how to work light infantry with mechanized heavy infantry.”

In order to do that, the service members worked tirelessly through scenarios and missions that were handed down to them by the operations team at NTC. They would often wake before dawn to start their training and continue through days that reached well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. During these events, the unit prepares for whatever situations they may face when defending the nation.

“We give the most realistic training you can receive outside of actual combat,” said Cpt. Joshua Kiehl, a primary observer, coach and trainer at NTC. “We replicate every effect, from chemical attacks to anti-tank missile systems. Whatever a soldier may face, it is replicated here.”

Kiehl felt the unit was doing very well during the training events. He believes that this sort of training allows them to learn more than they would be able to at their home station.

“The biggest challenges the units face would be them exercising all the things that they normally aren’t able to,” he said. “Whether that be resupply or casualty evacuations. We always think about engaging the enemy when deployed but these other things aren’t thought of as much even though they are very important.”

Throughout their time in the box, the unit found themselves up against many challenges but found they were able to learn from all of them.

“We completed an urban clearing exercise yesterday and then did it again today,” said Brenner. “From yesterday to today, we changed tactics and it paid off. We had a very good outcome today and I feel people are learning a lot.”

The new commander felt she was not only learning herself but saw a good amount of development at the team and squad leader levels of the unit as well.

After completing their training at NTC the unit is looking forward to coming back to Wyoming and continuing to build their company and on the skills that they learned while in the heat of the California sun.

Wyoming Joint Force Headquarters welcomes new commander

Wyoming Joint Force Headquarters in Cheyenne recently said goodbye to the outgoing commander, Maj. Paul Kanish, and welcomed the new commander, Capt. Jacob Arnold at a ceremony held at the Joint Force Readiness Center. Brig. Gen. Brian Nesvik, commander of the Wyoming Army National Guard, presided over the ceremony with the traditional passing of the colors.

Kanish will still serve as a Wyoming guardsman and has taken an assignment at the National Guard Bureau in Virginia.

Arnold has 21 years under his belt in the Wyoming Guard, with nine of those serving as an active guard reserve officer. He thanked his family for their continued support for the opportunity to serve in uniform and that he wouldn’t be here today without them.

“This new and exciting for me,” Arnold said. “I stand before you humble and excited, ready to help everyone accomplish the mission here at JFHQ.”

Arnold’s first order of business as the unit’s commander was to award Master Sgt. Brock Roush the Army Commendation Medal for his exemplary service to another soldier.

“I look forward to getting to know all the leaders and soldiers here,” Arnold said. “I’m also looking forward to having some fun.”

Soldiers volunteer at Wyoming ranch to help prepare for Operation Remount

JAY EM, Wyo. – It was an overcast and drizzly day on Saturday for Staff Sgt. Felicia Holbrook and her soldier Pfc. Brandon Miller. Holbrook is a recruiter in the Wyoming Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. Miller is one of her Recruit Sustainment Program soldiers. The two arrived at the Mirrored K Legacy Ranch in Jay Em, Wyoming, to start their day helping clean out the horse barn in preparation for a program called Operation Remount.

Originally, there were supposed to be several other recruit soldiers and cadets from the Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy to help out. Due to unfortunate events, only Holbrook and Miller were able to make it.

The ranch is owned by Kelly Alexander and the program is run by him and his family. Alexander is a veteran who served over 20 years in the Army and Army National Guard. The program stemmed from his own experience with post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as multiple traumatic brain injuries.

After trying several different programs to get treatment, he came across a program in Texas called Veterans and Mustangs through the Mustang Heritage Foundation. It was there that he found the tools needed to find the way back to his normal self.

“When it comes to heart, mustangs have it, hands down.” Alexander says. He wants to duplicate his experience and allow veterans who suffer from traumatic issues like PTSD to find their way back as he did.

Operation Remount is a 6-week program that pairs the participant with a wild mustang. Wild mustangs also experience trauma when they have to be pulled away from their herds and placed in overcrowded pens and immunized. There’s a shared type of experience between participant and mustang, which helps in the healing process. They work to build a trusting and bonding relationship through one on one training.

The program is funded entirely by donations and free to veterans and first responders who participate. There are some expenses participants will have to pay for themselves in the beginning, but in the future, the Alexander’s want everything to be covered by the program.

Holbrook herself is an experienced equine handler and will be volunteering her own time to help teach classes at Operation Remount. She recently started her own business called Shade Tree Equine and Canine Massage.

“I’m a little bit nervous,” says Holbrook. “It will be my first time taking what I’ve learned and showing it to others.”

Holbrook is using these types of opportunities to volunteer to help her Recruit Sustainment Soldiers during their time with the Recruiting and Retention Battalion. Soldiers who enlist and have a while before they ship out to Basic Combat Training participate in the RSP, which is treated like a regular part-time drill with the Guard. They learn basic soldiering skills that prepare them for BCT.

“The Recruit Sustainment Program is highly encouraged to volunteer in their community, and we don’t always get the opportunity to do that,” Holbrook says. “I want these kids to understand that even if your military family is retired, they still might need help, and this is an opportunity to volunteer with a great program.”

Volunteering offers soldiers the opportunity to get to know and help out in their community. Programs like Operation Remount provide opportunities to soldiers and anyone else who wants to find a way to give back to their community.

94th Troop Command HHC Command Change


LARAMIE, Wyo. – On Saturday, March 6, a ceremony at the Laramie Readiness Center, Capt. Trevor Gaylord, relinquished command of the 94th Troop Command Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), to 1st Lt. Benjamin Taylor.

Capt. Gaylord has commanded the HHC since 2019.

During his tenure, he transitioned the unit from not having a formal commander to a thriving unit, leading the way for the Wyoming Army National Guard.

Gaylord emphasized how proud he was to have been a part of the unit and gives all the credit to his Soldiers and fellow officers.

“Here at HHC, it’s been a truly fun experience,” Gaylord said.

“The amount of experience, and knowledge in the senior noncommissioned officers, and commissioned officers is absolutely outstanding.”


1st Lt. Benjamin Taylor graduated Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course (BOLC) in June 2016 and joined C Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment where he served as both a Platoon Leader and the Executive Officer.

He looks forward to going in-depth with learning about the personnel side, administration, logistics, and operations.

Taylor emphasized his excitement to take on this challenge and grow as an officer.

“This command presents its unique challenges with the different ranks of people within the unit,” said Taylor.

Lt Col. Marko Rubich, commander of the 94th Troop Command Battalion, commends Gaylord for his excellent work in shepherding the unit to the level it is now.




Wyoming National Guard makes history

On a cold and windy January day, members of the 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery of the Wyoming Army National Guard made history by conducting the first live fire HIMARS Rapid Infiltration (HIRAIN) at Dugway Proving Grounds in Dugway, Utah, Jan. 21-22, 2021.

“For the 2-300th, it’s kind of historic for us,” said Lt. Col. Robert Lemay Lejeune, commander of the 2-300th, emphasizing the importance of this event.

HIRAIN missions have been around for a long time in the military and are a staple of combat in the Middle East that the 2-300th consistently trains for.

“This is one of our mission essential tasks,” explained Training Officer Maj. Shawn Stensaas. “It will help us improve and maintain our proficiencies and relevancy to support missions around the world, wherever they may be.”

The 2-300th first began practice for the exercise in 2015. For this attempt, they utilized a C-130 Hercules aircraft provided by the 153rd Airlift Wing out of Cheyenne, Wyo. Using the aircraft in this method allows the artillery greater mobility and a substantial increase in the overall range of their mission. This tactic makes HIRAIN missions very flexible.

“It can be used in any theatre where you can land a C-17 or a C-130,” explained Lejeune.

While it might appear that the use of aircraft in a field artillery mission like the HIRAIN would be normal, this is not the case. The normal method the soldiers of the 2-300th use to fire their artillery is to drive their M-142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to a set point on the battlefield and then to fire from that location. While this method can be highly effective, it is limited by the range of the artillery used, usually 18-42 miles. This range can be extended by conducting a HIRAIN mission.

“I can conduct a raid but it’s as far as I can drive and secure myself forward on the battlefield,” explains Lejeune. “Which is relatively short when you compare the distance to an aircraft. So by working with the Air Force, we add this great new capability in terms of range.”

This exercise that took place Jan. 21-22 saw the 2-300th load two HIMARS and one Humvee onto the C-17 Globemaster III. The airplane then took off from Cheyenne and flew to Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah. The following day the C-17 crew flew the members of the 2-300th to Dugway Proving Grounds where the HIMAIRS exited the aircraft, obtained a good firing position, and fired their payload. They then rapidly reentered the aircraft and returned to Wyoming.

This week’s mission included collaboration from an unlikely source, the 315th OSS Airlift Wing out of Joint Base Charleston in Charleston, S.C. The 315th provided the aircraft that would was used for the event, the C-17, a much larger aircraft that allowed the 2-300th to use two of their HIMARS and one Humvee.

This collaboration with the 315th came about by happenstance according to Col. Kent M. Porter, commander of the 115th Field Artillery Brigade, which is the headquarters unit for the 2-300th.

“They reached out to me,” Porter said, explaining how the mission came to life. “They had a mission on the west coast and part of their validation is to take mobile equipment up in their aircraft. I made a few phone calls and we have just built a good relationship that we hope to have continue.”

“We cannot do this without their assistance, it truly is a team effort,” Lejeune concurred.

Given the essential status of the HIRAIN mission in combat operations, training was required to conduct these exercises safely and effectively. The teamwork between the 2-300th and the 315th should continue for a long time.

94th Troop Command welcomes new commander

94th Troop Command welcomed their new commander, Lt. Col. Marko Rubich, on Nov. 14, 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the change of command ceremony that had been planned to be held in Cheyenne, Wyo. was cancelled in order to comply with local state and health guidelines. Rubich took over command from Lt. Col. Toby Alkire.

Alkire, who served as the 94th’s commander for almost three years, will be moving on to become the Joint Director of Operations in Cheyenne.

“I’m really going to miss this position,” Alkire said. “I am leaving with a heavy heart. We have some of the best leaders in the Wyoming Army National Guard in Troop Command.”

Alkire felt a good majority of the success he found at the 94th came from the exceptional command teams, leadership, and full time staff that were there. He was especially thankful for Command Sgt. Maj. Lindsay Schmidt who helped him throughout his command. He felt that he couldn’t have asked for better people to work alongside.

Alkire also said he is going to miss working with the wide variety of units 94th has, but looks forward to working with domestic operations and Homeland Security. He has no fears that the new commander of 94th will do great.

Rubich previously served with the 115th Field Artillery Brigade where he was the deputy commander. He has been a member of the Wyoming National Guard since 2013, after transferring from active duty.

“The command relationship with soldiers is special compared to almost any role you might have,” Rubich said. “It’s an honor to be able to command 94th Troop Command.”

As commander, Rubich plans to focus on individual soldier readiness, deployment readiness and improving and maintaining relationships with the other units that the 94th is aligned to train with.

Throughout his 16 years in the military, Rubich said he has been a part of many units similar to those that fall under the 94th. He hopes to be able to further the units and help them to become better than they were before.

“This is a privilege that only comes around a couple of times in an officer’s career,” he said, “and my door is always open. I am here for every soldier in the formation, all they need to do is pick up the phone and call me.”

Interview with Staff Sgt. Kari Brafford: Celebrating National American Indian Heritage Month

The Wyoming National Guard is celebrating National American Indian Heritage Month by paying tribute to the culture and heritage of these remarkable Americans who deeply enrich the quality and character of our Nation. 

For this month’s observance, I spoke with Staff Sgt. Kari Brafford, a Human Resources Specialist, who has served 10-years in the Wyoming Army National Guard. Throughout her career, she has held the position of State Master Fitness Trainer and is currently the Training non-commissioned officer (NCO) for Joint Force Headquarters in Cheyenne, Wyo.

Brafford is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. She explains what this month means to her and how her Native American heritage has played a role in serving.

Q: What does National American Indian Heritage Month mean to you?

It means the celebration of people that helped us evolve into who we are today. Many of the foods we eat and the medicines and remedies we use were introduced by American Indians. Many of our highways that establish our routes today follow an Indian trail. Our literature and our arts draw upon Indian themes and wisdom. Countless American Indians have served in our Armed Forces and have fought valiantly for our country.


Q: Do you know about your family history? 

Yes! I have a lot of family history here in Fort Laramie, Wyoming where I currently live. My ancestors and family were the first Native American people to work with the settlers as they came through. They were also part of the many treaties and agreements that we read about today in history, such as the Treaty of Fort Laramie or the Sioux Treaty of 1868. I am also the great-granddaughter of Chief Stephen Standing Bear. He was an Oglala Sioux tribe Chief, as well as a famous actor in the Wild West Buffalo Bill show.

Q: How has your heritage has played a role in your military service? 

The Akicita is the Lakota word for warrior. That spirit has been passed to me from my ancestors. It has always guided me to be brave. Native Americans have a great understanding of defending one’s land and that inherent belief led me to my military career. I feel that Native Americans play an important role in the military as they serve at a higher rate of 19% compared to 14% of all other ethnicities. No matter the conflict, American Indian men and women continue to risk their lives for the very government that once tried to eradicate their way of life. That also says a lot about their character and integrity. I hope to continue to be a role model for all Native American people and the Army has provided me a great opportunity to do so.

Q: What do you do in the civilian world?

I am a part-time college Business Instructor with NICC (Nebraska Indian Community College) out of Macy, NE. I took this position specifically because I get to “give back” to my people. Many of my students are disadvantaged socially, economically, and financially. I mentor at the college to help students with their career and education paths. I also enjoy time with my family, especially my new grandchild. She reminds me that life is simple in nature. I love to travel and see new things! I also work on the ranch and farm.

Q: Do you ever feel as though you live in two worlds, Indian and Non-Indian?

I do feel that culturally speaking Native American people believe in a different way of life than what they currently live on the reservations. My grandmother was raised in a catholic school on the Pine Ridge reservation and always told me that “Life is what you make of it.” She inspired me to demand better for myself. I take a personal interest in helping Native American youth see the advantage of education to make their lives better. I grew up in a disadvantaged world and made it to where I am today with furthering my education!


New sidewalk opens to connect Town of Guernsey and Camp Guernsey

The Town of Guernsey and Camp Guernsey are connected in a new way. On Oct. 22, a new sidewalk, the Guernsey Connector, officially opened. The ribbon cutting ceremony gathered Maj. Gen. Gregory Porter, Mayor Nick Paustian, Matt Allred, town planner, and numerous members of the Guernsey community and Camp Guernsey staff.

As the new addition to the project, the sidewalk connects the town and Camp. It runs west from the main gate, hand railing U.S. Highway 26, and ends at S. Colorado Ave. The sidewalk provides a safer way to travel to and from Camp Guernsey.

“It’ also a great example of how a community, such as Guernsey, its mayor council, Camp Guernsey, it’s accompaniment and Commander, and everyone else on the way up the ladder to Maj. Gen. Porter, is going to benefit from the ability to use a route from the camp to town or vice versa, without walking the fog line on the highway,” said Allred.

Porter gave credit to the engineers that worked hard on the sidewalk, as well as the Town of Guernsey.

“You made the community look nicer and safer, certainly for those of us that are on the Camp. It would have been so easy to say, ‘This is too tough to get done.’ But, you didn’t. And you kept going, you made a difference, and you probably saved some lives when it comes down to it,” Porter said.

The Camp Guernsey Connector, as it is officially named, is a piece of the Lucindy Rollins Road project.

“We have made huge strides,” said Allred, after explaining all that was left of the development plan.

The sidewalk is years in the making, as the project’s eighth phase. There is still work to be done, as there are at least three phases and a couple of bridges left.

“This took a lot of work,” said Porter. “It wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t push past the little roadblocks in the way. And nobody said you had to do it. From all of us, I just want to tell you thank you for all the support that Guernsey gives us.”

Wyoming National Guard concludes Cyber Shield exercise

The Wyoming National Guard partnered with the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security to participate in a Cyber Shield 2020 exercise last month. Army and Air Guard members and state employees came together for the training event to test their capabilities for real-world cyberattack scenarios.

The state of Wyoming gains a lot from this type of partnership. One of the principal responsibilities of the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security is to support local jurisdictions in times of emergency. WOHS does that through a supply of state and federal resources, and partnerships with agencies like the Wyoming National Guard allow them to be able to help the communities of Wyoming.

The event was initially supposed to take place at Camp Williams, Utah. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to re-evaluate and move the training to a virtual environment. Historically, Wyoming has sent service members to Cyber Shield exercises to augment other state and territory teams. This event was the first time Wyoming operated as an independent team, which was in response to being moved to a virtual environment.

Training like this gives everyone hands-on experience in the event they do get asked to support certain cyber defense security situations that might arise. If requested, the governor can activate the National Guard cyber defensive team. They can be called on to assist in an environment that might involve a company’s critical infrastructure.

“Electrical companies, gas companies who have these large industrial control systems in their environment, we can potentially be called in to assist with that,” says Chief Warrant Officer 4 Warren Burgess, the information security manager for the Wyoming Military Department. “Even though they are a private organization, because they are determined to be critical infrastructure, we can be brought in to assist.”

The team kicked off the exercise with a scenario in which a company was concerned about its network. The company asked for recommendations on their security. In the process of helping the company improve its security, the team discovered a breach. They responded to that breach by helping fight whoever attacked the network, tighten it down to where it was safe again, and get the company back to business as usual.

There were several different scenarios presented to the team. These scenarios included issues like website defacement, ransomware, and phishing attacks. Website defacement can be something as simple as changing a picture to make a company look bad. Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts files, and the hacker demands money to fix said malware. The most common type of ransomware is phishing. Phishing is when a user clicks on a phishing email attachment that could then send usernames and passwords to a hacker who now has access to that network.

But there are systems in place set up to detect these types of attacks. Firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and even just an inventory of a company’s network can alert users to possible issues.

“I am working on the log analysis team. That means I am utilizing tools and an intrusion detection system to try and look for alerts that the system has was compromised,” says Tech. Sgt. Angel Wiles, a cybersecurity subject matter expert and participated in the exercise virtually. “I review lots of technical data that comes through, and then I have to decipher what that means, and what’s happening so that I can report it to other teams who are also helping to monitor for those things.”

These tools help prevent cyberattacks on a system. If they don’t stop an attack, they at least give the cyber team information they need to fight it.

There are a lot of benefits that come from a collaboration like this. Getting to know faces and getting comfortable working with each other will make it easier in the future if they are all pulled in to assist in a cyber-defense situation. The team can also learn the different ways each person does things, and perhaps learn a new, more efficient way to do something.

“I think it’s good to get a lot of outside perspectives, and lots of outside feedback, to say that’s one way to do it, but you could also do x, y, and z,” says Wiles.

The event was also the first time the team operated jointly. No one had ever interacted with each other before. Burgess reached out to find participants from the state first, then asked the Air Guard to see if they wanted to participate. They jumped on the opportunity. The exercise brought all the IT cyber responders into a single environment to train together. Burgess hopes this is the first step to help everyone work together in the future.

Strengthening Our Partnership: Wyoming and Tunisia

The Wyoming National Guard hosted an Aviation Familiarization Event in Cheyenne, Wyo., Sept. 13-25, 2020, in which members of the Tunisian Air Force participated.

133rd Engineer Company completes recertification for reaction force training

The morning began bright and hot as Soldiers from the 133rd Engineer Company formed up and began classroom training outside for their National Guard Reaction Force recertification. The Wyoming Army National Guard partners with the Air National Guard’s 153rd Security Forces Squadron instructors in order to receive recertification.

NGRF falls under the National Guard Support to Civil Authorities, which is the process by which civil authorities can request military assistance. The NGRF is called upon by the governor in the event local law enforcement needs additional support for situations like crowd control or entry point security.

“These are things that need to be done in the event some sort of riot crisis or security issue arises that we need to resolve,” says Lt. Col. Cole Kelly, the Director of Military Support for the Joint Operations Center in the Wyoming Military Department.

Kelly signs the recertification for Soldiers, which occurs annually. Comprehensive NGRF training happens at least quarterly, but can be added to Mission Essential Tasks that are performed more often. The 133rd is the unit designated as the NGRF, and has been training every year for the last four years.

133rd Company Commander, 1st Lt. Eric Jacobs, has been with the unit in different capacities for the last six years.

“The whole time that the 133rd has had this unit, I’ve been involved with this training,” he says, whether as platoon leader, executive officer, or now the commander.

Instruction began with demonstration of different tactics for crowd control, all of them aimed to de-escalate tense situations. De-escalation involves the proper handling of non-lethal baton, shield and pepper spray equipment. The Air Guard instructors gave an overview demonstration of the equipment and then turned Soldiers over to stations for hands on experience.

Quarterly training might have set scenarios to run through, but for this day, Soldiers were given the task to come up with and run through their own scenarios.

“They are going to walk through a patrolling scenario and they are going to have to react to some items, such as an Improvised Explosive Device, or some other security situation. Whatever they decide to come up with,” Kelly says. “They’ll walk through different scenarios at separate stations.”

NGRF training benefits the state of Wyoming in that the unit provides support to local law enforcement when needed. Having a trained force ready, whether they are utilized or not, means they will be prepared if the time comes.

“I think it’s important the community sees this training and the National Guard Reaction Force and the Wyoming National Guard as a whole as a resource for them.” Jacobs goes on to say, “If we get called out, it’s not to police people up, it’s to protect Wyoming’s assets. Our most valuable asset is our people.”