Soldiers from the 1st Battalion 149th Infantry, participated in Civil Disturbance Response Training as part of their unit’s annual training at Harold L. Disney Training Center July 25- 28.
The 1/149th was overseen by Soldiers from the 223rd, the 617th, and the 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 was to equip Soldiers of the 1/149 with the skills and knowledge to protect the life and liberty of the members of the Commonwealth of Kentucky when they get called up to assist local law enforcement for civil disturbance response.
“We are incredibly lucky to get this sort of training to protect our commonwealth. Hopefully, we never have to use it,” said Cpt. Eileen Miller Commander, 1st Battalion 149th Infantry, Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
The training incorporated classroom and instructional portions where Soldiers were taught skills they would need to know for the practical exercise later in the day.
“The value of cross training and bringing in experts from around the state is paramount,” said Lt. Benjamin Smith, Scout Platoon Leader, 1/149. “It’s one thing to look it up, but actually having Soldiers doing hands on training is far better.”
The Guardsmen practiced handling batons and riot shields.
“I want our Soldiers to have confidence in their equipment and the task at hand,” said Smith. “Knowing the ground rules helps us best support the community.”
Part of the instruction included understanding access control points and traffic control points on city streets and roadways. Different styles of shield formations such as lines and echelons were drilled.
The instruction was enhanced by military police non-commissioned officers who have decades of combined experience dealing with various law enforcement tasks.
“Civil support is a new environment, our job is to familiarize them in this new area and to make them better Soldiers all around 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 NCO among the MP’s for this training. He said, “Whether it is serving to help during storm relief and natural disasters or responding to support local law enforcement with crowd control we always try to make the situation better.”
“Keeping our communities safe is a core mission of the National Guard, and that is the primary objective of this training,” said Sgt. Jacob Ernst, 223rd Military Police Company. “When a unit is called up for a civil disturbance response, the main goal is to augment local law enforcement and to provide support.”
He went on to say that Soldiers are usually trained to use force only if necessary, and to use force when force is applied to them but really focus on doing what is necessary to deescalate each situation.
Soldiers fresh out of initial infantry training typically have not received instruction on dealing with civil disturbances because their primary training covers combat maneuvers.
“We have been taking the training very seriously, and we are really grateful for the hands-on learning experience provided by the Military Police,” said Pfc. David Boian, 1/149th.
During our one weekend a month drill, we usually don’t get as much hands-on training so this annual training prepares us for if we ever need to respond to emergencies and assist the community in this capacity,” he added.
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.