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NEWS | Oct. 7, 2011

Indiana Guard facility redirects historical training operations

By Staff Sgt. Matthew Scotten Indiana Army National Guard

EDINBURGH, Ind. - As Soldiers deploying through Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center slows, the operational tempo does not. Instead, Atturbury has redirected its historical ability to train deploying Soldiers to a different and ever-growing part of the contemporary environment: civilians.

Two years ago, Camp Atterbury started training and preparing civilian contractors to serve abroad in support of America's interests in forward operating areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan through the Individual Replacement Deployment Operations.

It started as a relatively small program, training approximately 30 people per month. However, the post recently absorbed the lion's share of the civilian training mission, and now the small Indiana National Guard post trains more than 600 civilians per month.

According to Army 1st Sgt. Michael Mullins, noncommissioned officer in charge of Camp Atterbury's Individual Replacement Deployment Operations, the elevation in Atterbury's civilian training mission was called for via an executive order from Headquarters, Department of the Army when it was decided, due to the upsurge of Defense Department civilians, that all contractor training was to be set up as a separate mission at Atterbury, leaving both groups more manageable in size for training purposes.

The training assets available between Atterbury and nearby Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex lend themselves for civilians to work side-by-side with Soldiers in theaters of operations since both have had similar training.

"We offer the civilians survivability training, military orientation, and ensure that they are physically fit to serve in the austere conditions they may encounter overseas," Mullins said.

Heather Derminio, a hazardous materials specialist for a technology corporation, is deploying as a contractor through Camp Atterbury. This is her first time through Atterbury, but not her first time deploying.

"I've deployed five times now, and I really like what they are doing here at Atterbury," Derminio said. "At other facilities I have been to the civilians were pretty much separated from everyone else, and here we are better integrated with Soldiers and military culture. That is especially helpful for people coming through who haven't deployed before."

Bryan Kriehn, a customer support engineer for an aviation Corporation, said he was very impressed with the focus on documentation he has seen at Atterbury.

"I was really happy to see them putting our records in the Medical Protection System," Kriehn said. "This helps make sure records aren't lost and can be easily updated without having to repeat vaccinations unnecessarily."

Efficiency was not the only thing Kriehn and Derminio said they were impressed with at Atterbury. Hoosier hospitality also made an impression.

"Everyone here has been so nice," Derminio said.

"Even the leadership came in to see us on our very first day here and tell us how much they appreciated what we were doing," Kriehn said. "It makes us feel respected for our service. I've deployed several times and I have never seen that before."

Increased civilian deployments through Atterbury also possibly make an impression in the local civilian economy. Although there are facilities available on the post, civilians can pay out of pocket for off-post hotel rooms and meals, as a sort of final comfort before deploying. All of these hotel rooms and meals put money into the economy of Atterbury's surrounding communities.

"I think this should really help create jobs around the base." Derminio said.

As civilian deployments continue to be an increasingly prominent part of the contemporary operating environment, Camp Atterbury continues to pull from decades of experience in deployment training that dates all the way back to World War II.

The post does this by continuously adapting and constantly seeking out new ways for the Hoosier State to contribute to the security of the country.



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