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.”