Tag Archives: defense

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.”

Camp Guernsey demonstrates capabilities on tactical airstrip during joint mission

CAMP GUERNSEY JOINT TRAINING CENTER, Wyo. – Members of the 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery Regiment made history again, performing a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System Rapid Insertion (HIRAIN) mission on April 12, 2021, at the Lt. Gen. Wright Tactical Airstrip at Camp Guernsey.

April 12 marked the first time the tactical airstrip was used for a HIRAIN mission. A HIMARS was unloaded, simulated a shoot, and loaded back onto a Lockheed C-130J Hercules. The 2-300th previously executed a live-fire HIRAIN at Dugway Proving Grounds in Dugway, Utah earlier this year.

While this mission was not a live-fire exercise, it demonstrated Camp Guernsey has the capabilities to facilitate HIRAIN mission training. The tactical airstrip, a 4,661 foot long, 60-foot wide gravel runway, accommodated the landing and takeoff and proved it could withstand the mission.

The joint mission was conducted between the 2-300th, the 243rd Air Traffic Control Squadron from the Wyoming Air National Guard, and the U.S. Air Force 29th Weapons Squadron. The squadron, based in Little Rock, Ark., conducts graduate-level instruction in weapons and tactics employment with the Lockheed C-130J Hercules.

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.

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.

The Rescue

Cheyenne Regional Airport held an emergency exercise training on the morning of Aug. 27, 2020. The scenario involved an airplane crash with victims on board.

The Wyoming Air National Guard Fire and Rescue, along with airport staff and many community partners, were among the participants.

The exercise tested response skills, completion of a triennial certification while showcasing the strength of these partnerships, and the impact they have on the community.

Partners included:

Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Cheyenne Firefighters, Laramie County Coroner’s Office, F. E. Warren Air Force Base Fire, and Emergency Services, Cheyenne/Laramie County Emergency Management, and AMR – Cheyenne – American Medical Response.

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.”

Field artillery conducts live-fire exercise

The 2-300th Field Artillery Battalion (FAB) of the 115th Fires Brigade conducted a live-fire exercise with their high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) last Tuesday. The exercise is the culmination of their annual training in which they are required to qualify with the system every year. But what many may not know is the amount of preparation that goes on before the rockets even fire.

Before firing, they must adhere to strict safety procedures. Fire Direction Officer 2nd Lt. Matthew Buchanan creates and performs the missions for the launchers and also preforms safety analysis.

“I coordinate with range control and build a safety diagram for this range, from and to our desired target,” Buchanan says. “Before the launchers can shoot, they need to verify where they are pointed to make sure they are pointed in a safe direction.”

All of this can be coordinated from a specific location. The Tactical Operations Center (TOC) is the central area where all of the preparation and communication happens. You know when the rockets are about to fire if you are standing near the area as you will start to hear excited chatter over the radios and finally, “Fire when ready!”

Soldiers are given four rockets and are required to hit a target 9,500 meters away in order to qualify. Normally there are 16 HIMARS that fire four rockets each for qualification. This time, there are only four.

This was a different type of annual training for the 2-300th as most of the Soldiers are either deployed or just coming back from deployment, so the number of Soldiers at training is much lower. Because of this, they were able to fire the rest of the rockets, 66 in total, for extra practice between the four HIMARS that were used.

“This is to ensure we are lethal and capable of doing our missions on the battlefield,” says Battalion Operations Officer Maj. Casey Henry. “They’re going through all of their certification processes to ensure that we can deploy and go to war.”

This was the first time the unit fired in this particular location. The unit continued their live-fire training and finished at the end of the week.