The 252nd Combined Arms Battalion, part of the North Carolina Army National Guard, conducted a lane training exercise, March 1 to 3, at Fort Bragg in preparation for the unit’s rapid-reaction force mission later this year.

The two-day training exercise was held to prepare the 252nd’s companies to respond to emergencies and civil disturbances, in preparation for in-depth practice missions in April. In June, the unit will use their annual training period as their final training week before validation to take over responsibility as North Carolina’s rapid-reaction force for the following year.

Rapid-reaction forces are designed to respond to an emergency ahead of federal assets by providing site security, establishing roadblocks or checkpoints, and assisting civilian authorities  in controlling civil disturbances.

At the request of the North Carolina governor, initial forces can be mobilized within four to eight hours with additional forces arriving within 24 to 36 hours.

“The 252nd Combined Arms Battalion’s mission with the RRF is to offer support to the communities in a time of crisis,” said Lt. Col. Robert Bumgardner, battalion commander, 252nd CAB. “We may provide security or assist local authorities with whatever is needed.”

“(This training) allows us to prepare the battalion to be a ready force for the state of North Carolina,” said Sgt. Michael Todd, an infantryman with Co. A, 252nd CAB.

This training operation had an added benefit — Soldiers from the 252nd CAB had the opportunity to not only receive the training, but also serve as instructors to their fellow platoons.

Each of the battalion’s six RRF maneuver platoons were assigned to develop, master and instruct one of six lane training exercises. Each lane taught the platoons to work together while executing an essential task, such as operating a roadblock and check point, conducting a convoy, securing a facility and its perimeter, casualty evacuation, reaction to a civil disturbance, and civil-disturbance control operations. The platoons were then responsible for training their assigned LTX to each of their sister platoons through a two-day round robin event.

“The benefits of this type of training are to better understand the RRF mission, save time and prevent the need for retraining, and allow for the train-up week and validation week to go smoother,” said Sgt. Maj. Stephen Minnick, the 252nd CAB’s operations sergeant major. “This also allows for our NCOs to have the time to train their Soldiers and do what they do best.”

Todd agreed that this type of training was beneficial. “You learn better from peers than from textbooks or briefings,” he said.

Bumgardner said he hoped this training and their upcoming RRF mission would teach his Soldiers about the National Guard’s dual, federal and state mission, and the intricacies involved in supporting their own community in an emergency.

“I hope they will be challenged. This training will allow them to decipher the difference in how to deal with the populace in our nation versus in a combat situation, and to enhance their people skills,” Bumgardner said.

“(These Soldiers) are warriors first, but peacekeepers within our own nation,” he said. “This training should help them look at the National Guard in a different way.”