160820-Butlerville, Ind. –
BUTLERVILLE, IN, UNITED STATES
Story by Maj. Jennifer Mack
206th Broadcast Operations Detachment
Public affairs Soldiers from the 205th Press Camp Headquarters and its subordinate units are conducting Exercise News Day this summer to develop and refine their skills. News Day is the first-ever public affairs annual training event based at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Ind.
Broadcast journalists, print journalists, and equipment operator and maintenance technicians from six public affairs units converged on MUTC to stand up a tactical operations center. Teams received real-world assignments while at MUTC and then departed on mobile missions to various Army Reserve exercises around the nation.
Annual training for PA Soldiers previously consisted of attending exercises specifically designed for other military disciplines such as military police. PA Soldiers became part of the training scenario in those events, playing media on the battlefield or other notional roles.
Public affairs Soldiers are no longer part of the hypothetical scenario, instead, during News Day, they’re working in real-time as journalists and technicians practicing their crafts and receiving refresher training on perishable skills.
Army Reserve journalists taking part in News Day were tasked to tell the Army Reserve story consistently, clearly, and accurately with a focus on Army Reserve units and Soldiers.
Sgt. Zechariah Gerhard, a broadcaster with the 345th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment stationed at San Antonio, Texas said, “You should be able to exercise your skills.” Gerhard believes that without Exercise News Day, public affairs Soldiers are tasked to augment other units who don’t know what public affairs Soldiers are supposed to do and don’t have any expectations.
Gerhard, who lives in Houston, Texas, said he hasn’t been able to use all his skills since being deployed to Iraq in 2011. His civilian job as a mechanic for United Airlines, like most Army Reserve Soldiers, has nothing to do with his military profession.
“Just having the opportunity to practice all the technical aspects and function in the capacity of a broadcast journalist has made this exercise beneficial and exceeded my expectations,” said Gerhard. “I’m really glad I was able to participate in Exercise News Day.”
The technicians are on hand to assist the journalists by tending to equipment issues and making necessary repairs. An equipment operator and maintenance technician with the 206th Broadcast Operations Detachment, Sgt. Raymond Maldonado has the opportunity to work on radio equipment at the MUTC radio station.
Unlike Gerhard, Maldonado’s Army Reserve job and civilian job at Bell Helicopter are similar. “I joined the Army Reserve to be a part of the Army Reserve and get away from the desk stuff and do Army stuff,” said Maldonado.
The technicians deconstructed a spider web of cabling to properly label and mark all pieces of the station’s audio and computer equipment while Maldonado, from Euless, Texas, designed a schematic showing how all the equipment is setup.
News Day also gave Maldonado the opportunity to get out in the field and capture news footage, getting him out from behind the desk he normally works behind. It was an experience that made him feel like a part of a bigger Army Reserve with a better understanding of how the Reserve functions and what other Reserve Soldiers do.
Army Reserve public affairs Soldiers having Exercise News Day and the training offered gave the Soldiers opportunities to remain proficient. “This exercise has blown my mind how organized it is and how much thought has gone into it,” said Gerhard. “Just being here, on multiple occasions, I felt like this is totally a reason to stay in the U.S. Army Reserve.”