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By Capt. Mikel Arcovitch
172nd Public Affairs Detachment
Training in the Army prepares Soldiers for a variety of circumstances and events. Vigilant Guard is a training event that puts to test our response to domestic emergencies. The Joint Readiness Training Center at Folk Polk, Louisiana, trains Soldiers to operate in a combat environment. Vermont Soldiers conducted pre-mobilization training at Fort Bliss and Fort McGregor prior to their deployments, focusing on a variety of elements Soldiers would most likely face on deployment. All the jobs and specialties in the Army are put to the test to make sure Soldiers are ready for whatever missions they may face. Our current deployments across the world are clear evidence as to why training is so important.
Many Soldiers from Vermont deployed after tirelessly supporting the State of Vermont in our combined joint response to COVID-19. A smaller group went to Washington, D.C. to support efforts in securing a variety of locations during the Presidential Inauguration. Once deployed overseas, a contingent of Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry (Mountain), found themselves defending the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. They helped secure the airport while the United States and NATO allies evacuated tens of thousands of people. Vermont Soldiers, while continuing their regular assigned missions in their respective areas of operations, now find themselves supporting Afghan travelers waiting for transport to their final destinations in the United States or elsewhere around the world.
How do you train for these missions?
The reality is that our training prepares us exactly for these kinds of missions. Security is a hallmark of training in the career of an Infantry Soldier, and is touched on for all Soldiers that join the Army. Assisting civilians in a state-of-emergency is one of the critical mission sets for National Guard Soldiers – responding to hurricanes, floods, fires, pandemics… Soldiers apply skills and training to any of these events, and aiding Afghan travelers is no different. Vermont Soldiers were ready, and have continued to show their ability to respond to any mission.
At Camp Bondsteel, temporarily home to Vermont’s 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) Headquarters, now under the title of ‘KFOR Regional Command – East,’ a large tent city was set-up in a matter of weeks to house up to 2,000 Afghan travelers. While Vermonters may not work directly supporting this mission, seeing the U.S. Army Soldiers providing sustainment and help is uplifting. It is a constant reminder of why we do what we do.
Our missions have taken numerous twists and turns during this journey. One can assume we will see more as we progress. I can’t speak for every Soldier, but I am certainly honored and proud to serve.