JOINT BASE CAPE COD, Mass. --
Over 30 civilian employers of National Guard and Reserve service members participated in an employer appreciation event organized by the Massachusetts contingent of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves organization, on Friday July 13, 2018.
The ESGR is a Department of Defense program, established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component service members and their civilian employers, and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment.
The event began on Camp Edwards, the largest military training area in the Northeast. Its 15,000-acre training area hosts units from Massachusetts and throughout the region.
Employers traveled to the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 3-126th Aviation Battalion for a briefing on that unit’s mission, including an aerial tour of the Upper Cape on board Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
Regardless of their reservist status, Army National Guard helicopter pilots are required to maintain the same credentials as their active duty counterparts, which means many hours of continuing training and qualification flights. It’s more than the two days a month and two weeks a year commitment that is commonly thought about when the term “Guardsman” is considered.
Commitment, along with integrity, loyalty, dedication and dependability – all qualities that the military reinforces in service members; all qualities that civilian employers look for in their own employees.
On employing guard and reserve members, Mr. Gorden Souza of East Boston Savings Bank said, “You get employees who are responsible, who are loyal – with leadership abilities – those are the types of skill-sets and benefits that any employer would take advantage of.”
Next on the agenda was a visit to Tactical Training Base Kelley, a facility designed to train service members that is named for Army Sgt. Michael J. Kelley, a Massachusetts Army National Guardsman who was killed in 2005 while serving in Afghanistan.
TTB Kelley is a military “city” that exists within Camp Edwards itself and is largely made up of staged military camps and open field space. Soldiers live in tents with modular units provided for shower and sink facilities. The base is surrounded by barriers filled with dirt and barbed wire, entry control points and guard towers and is part of a larger concept called theater immersion training. The training places units into an environment comparable to the one that they will encounter in combat and uses a multilevel approach that provides a combat training center-like experience that replicates conditions in the theater of operation.
At mid-day, the group had lunch at the Falcon Golf Course on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Base Cape Cod and then were bused to Otis Air National Guard Base to visit and learn about the varied missions and responsibilities of the 102nd Intelligence Wing.
Employers learned about the wing’s 24/7 mission of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance where Airmen perform near-real-time intelligence processing, exploitation and dissemination by analyzing and interpreting information from manned and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. This information is then transformed into decision quality and actionable intelligence which is disseminated across the globe for use in the planning and execution of military operations.
Additionally, the group learned about the wing’s cyber ISR mission which provides collaborative, all-source analysis, fused intelligence, and cross-domain capabilities to enable all aspects of cyberspace operations. These operations encompass the people, personas, sensors, and logical and physical network characteristics of an adversary’s information systems in cyberspace.
They were also briefed on the wing’s communications engineering and installation mission that represents the capability of planning, designing and installing critical communication infrastructure anywhere in the world. From installing fiber optic and copper cable, to implementing wireless and satellite communications networks, this capability ensures critical command and control infrastructure and information is available 24/7 to the war-fighter wherever and whenever needed.
Support missions and domestic operations such as civil engineering, air base ground defense and expeditionary medical response make the 102nd Intelligence Wing a fully-capable and mission-ready organization that is prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.
The event concluded with the visit to the 102nd Intelligence Wing and participants were notably impressed with all they had seen throughout the day.
Of the experience, Benjamin Lin, a senior business consultant with Liberty Mutual Insurance in Boston said, “It’s really important to impart to people who are employers of guard and reserves personnel – what the different types of challenges they deal with – getting support from their employers in terms of being more lenient with time to allow the guard or reserve member to fulfill their military obligation is important.”
ESGR events, such as this one, serve to inform and educate employers on the important roles their uniformed employees contribute in support of state and federal missions. It is also an opportunity to recognize and appreciate employers who actively and diligently support their employees who serve.
The tour was both informative and interesting – something that really put into perspective the critical job that reservists play in the defense of the commonwealth and Nation.