Military Matters: Citizen Soldiers Prepare For Afghanistan
When the 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion deploys to Afghanistan later this month, their main job will be taking care of communications equipment.
They are training to be ready for anything.
"Getting the unit ready since we only work once a month, you know, so we need to get our teamwork ready, teamwork together, everything set up the right way," said team leader Spec. Edgar Lazos.
Lazos is among the 450 or so citizen soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion who will be shipping out to southern Afghanistan for a nine-month deployment.
Knowing how to navigate under the wire and over the wall, how to clear buildings, detain insurgents, and stay safe on a dismounted foot patrol - those kinds of skills will be critical.
"Always a challenge. Always an obstacle to overcome," Sgt. Gino Pena said. "Army's good training."
"You're always an infantry soldier first and that's why we have to keep our skills up, even though we don't do it every day," Lazos said.
And while most think about the National Guard's "everyday" role as providing relief after floods and other disasters, they'll tell you the job is much more than just that.
"It's a way bigger role," Lazos said. "You have both faces of the coin, you know - you have to do the family side, which is the whole state of New York and the other side, which is saving our country."
The 101st is deploying to southern Afghanistan in August and will be assigned to the 11th Tactical Theater Signal Brigade.
They didn't train without help. Soldiers from the 369th Special Troops Battalion supported the 101st by performing logistics, supply and transportation duties during training.
It was the job of the 369th to make sure training went as smoothly as possible for the troops being deployed.