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NEWS | Feb. 5, 2016

USARC and RSCs plan Exercise News Day

By Master Sgt. Timothy Lawn 205th Press Camp Headquarters

MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. — Army Reserve public affairs senior leaders gather at the Indiana National Guard Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Camp Atterbury, Ind.  Their mission, conduct a Rehearsal of Concept for Exercise News Day, the first ever United States Army Reserve Command public affairs exercise designed with the primary focus of training public affairs Soldiers how to best collectively tell the Army story.

Senior leaders from USARC, the 318th Press Camp Headquarters 99th Regional Support Command, and the 205th Press Camp Headquarters 63d Regional Support Command conducted a Rehearsal of Concept for “Exercise News Day,” at MUTC., Jan. 31 through Feb. 1.

Throughout the Exercise News Day mission beginning this month, Public Affairs Soldiers will deploy from MUTC to multiple, Continental United States based Army Reserve annual training exercises to master individual and collective task proficiencies and execute the Army Reserve Public Affairs strategic mission.

Exercise News Day’s goal is to achieve the Army Reserve Public Affairs strategic mission of supporting the combatant commanders in unified land operations and reinforcing the mission and relationship of the Army Reserve to international, U.S., and local nationals through public affairs operations.

Lt. Col. Monica Womack, USARC Deputy Chief of Training and Readiness-West describes Exercise News Day as the first ever annual training exercise designed with the sole focus on training public affairs Soldiers how to collectively tell the Army story. In brief, she added.

“Exercise News Day is the only training platform that will inject public affairs practitioners into a 24 hour news cycle,” said Lt. Col. Womack, USARC Deputy Chief of Training and Readiness-West.

To achieve the realism of a 24 hour news cycle the Soldiers will be injected into a simulated war or conflict driven scenario that is based out of the MUTC training facility. From there, print and broadcast trained teams of Soldiers will fan out to Army Reserve exercises that are simultaneously being held across the United States.

The base of operations for Exercise News Day is the MUTC facility. USARC recognized Soldiers needed to engage in a simulated real-world conflict or natural disaster environment and be able to effectively train to standard. To do this, the MUTC facility was considered chosen for its capabilities and resources.

Captain Jessica Cates, Indiana Army National Guard, Director of Public Affairs for Atterbury – Muscatatuck highlighted the benefits the 1,000 acre urban training center offers for today’s warfighters..

“It offers a more realistic training environment… a place where the Army Reserve, Army National Guard and the United States Marine Corps can bring a training event and exercise and benefit together,” Cates said.

Master Sgt. Bradd Staggs, Camp Atterbury Public Affairs, describes how the MUTC facility is ideal for military training and how it offers public affairs Soldiers realistic training they would not otherwise receive.

“The facility offers a fully functional operational 24/7 news and radio station, just like a civilian news, sports and weather radio station,” said Staggs. He added, “This will allow broadcast Soldiers to practice a part of their job they do not normally get to do in the U.S.”

Exercise News Day at MUTC and CONUS locations was solely created so that the Army public affairs professional Soldier will have an opportunity to be able to practice and achieve public affairs readiness.

Throughout the exercise Soldiers will be able to focus on and hone the core functions of public information, command information, and community engagement and Army directed unit mission-essential tasks. They will also be able to master their individual military occupational skill career skills they hold as professional public affairs Soldiers, such as being able to establish and conduct radio broadcast operations; and develop, produce and market Army Reserve public affairs products. The public affairs products they will create are providing balanced, fair and credible print and broadcast products that tell the Army Reserve story.

To ensure the units and Soldiers are staying on course achieving United States Department of Defense mandated and Army public affairs standards the exercise has observers assigned to evaluate the units and individual Soldiers from planning through execution.

Lt. Col. Annmarie Daneker, Plans Chief, Army Reserve Communications, has the task  of being an exercise observer. Her mission is to provide guidance to the Soldiers on the ground and to ensure they are completing their METL tasks to standard.

“Anytime you have any kind of training you need an external set of eyes… you need an observer to make sure the Soldiers are accomplishing their task to standard,” said Daneker.

She added that there are many new Soldiers who are school trained but have not had the opportunity to apply their skills in real-world situations.

Short of placing the units in real-world situations, USARC created the exercise to allow the Soldiers to achieve individual and unit mission readiness now, before they may have to apply it in potentially stressful situations, and it affords them the opportunity to use Exercise News Day to focus on their weaknesses and master their collective unit and individual skills.

Exercise News Day exercise lays the foundation that affords Army Reserve Public Affairs units and Soldiers an opportunity to master the strategic mission of supporting the combatant commander in unified land operations and enforcing the mission and relationship of the Army Reserve to international, U.S., and local publics through public affairs operations.

Exercise News Day is designed to support the public affairs warfighter, the combatant commander, and serves to keep the public informed, and help the public maintain confidence in America's Army and its readiness to conduct operations in peacetime, conflict and war.