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August 13, 2010

Mobilization

Sailors tackle Soldier tasks to prepare for deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan

By Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

Seven Sailors exchanged their desert tan camouflage uniforms for Army Combat Uniforms when they came to Fort McCoy for mobilization training.

They now wear the Kevlar helmet and armor-plated outer tactical vest as they exchanged a floating platform for ground work at Fort McCoy.

But they still keep their very personal U.S. Navy service name tape on the left breast pocket of their service uniform and are very proud Sailors.

PHOTO: Navy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) Daniel Link applies a bandage to the head of Navy Operational Spec. 1st Class John Ramsundar in a combat lifesaver class at Fort McCoy.  The Sailors went  through mobilization training prior to deployment. Photo by Navy Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Eliezer Gabriel
Navy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) Daniel Link applies a bandage to the head of Navy Operational Spec. 1st Class John Ramsundar in a combat lifesaver class at Fort McCoy. The Sailors went through mobilization training prior to deployment. (Photo by Navy Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Eliezer Gabriel)

They received a one-year assignment as “augmentees” to the U.S. Army as part of the Joint Sourcing Training Oversight (JSTO) program employed by the Department of Defense to supplement personnel needs of the Army.

Most of the JSTO warriors training at Fort McCoy are Airmen preparing to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom. About 40 members of the U.S. Coast Guard also have gone through JSTO mobilization training at McCoy.

Shane Ross and Eliezer Gabriel both are mass communications specialists in the Navy Reserve, comparable to the Army’s public affairs journalists. Both Sailors carry a camera, pen and notebook to document what’s happening in Navy, now Army, life.

Ross is assigned to Navy Public Affairs Support Element (NPASE) West in Norfolk Naval Station, Va., serving at McDill Air Force Base, Fla. Gabriel is assigned at NPASE West in San Diego, serving at Alameda Naval Air Station, Calif.

Both have had weapons training, but just with the 9 mm pistol. “Sailors rarely touch individual small arms,” Gabriel said, “that’s almost always handled by Marines.”

At Fort McCoy they received training on the M16 assault rifle, M249 squad automatic weapon, M240 light machine gun and M2 heavy machine gun.

Training included combat lifesaver, cultural awareness, language skills, Army Warrior Skills, Harris radio operations and situational training exercises involving base defense, improvised explosive device-defeat, and convoy operations.

“The training at Fort McCoy is very interesting,” Ross said. “We never had anything like it before.” Gabriel said he noticed the use of acronyms at Fort McCoy. “There are a lot more than in the Navy. The Army has a whole different language.”

The Sailor-Soldiers, or Soldier-Sailors, will be assigned their normal military specialties in theater. For Ross and Gabriel, that will be public affairs duties in Afghanistan.

Two of their shipmates are operations specialists, two are personnel specialists and one is a chaplain. Six are going to Afghanistan one to Iraq.

“We won’t be confined to an office,” Ross said, “but will be out photographing and documenting history.”

Gabriel added, “doing different things every day, just like at our regular Navy assignments. A big thing for me is that I will be helping to write history.”

Gabriel also said, “I’m looking forward to the experience of being in Afghanistan, and then coming home and sharing those experiences with other Sailors and my Family. All of that is important so that I get to know my job very well and earn points toward promotion in rank.”

Ross also said he is looking forward to his upcoming tour. He already had one tour during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 while aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga in the Persian Gulf.

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