FORT PICKETT, Va. – Soldiers and civilians assigned to the Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett completed a two-day “train the trainer” course taught by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help spread awareness of the dangers posed by unexploded ordnance.
Representatives from MTC’s Directorate of Plans, Training and Security, the Ammunition Supply Point and the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute attended the Sept. 28-29 training session, which augmented the installation’s ongoing UXO awareness efforts, according to Lt. Col. James C. Shaver Jr., the chief of DPTS. The training teaches the importance of the “3Rs” approach to UXO, which stands for Recognize, Retreat and Report.
“We include UXO themes in just about every briefing and product that we generate here within the Directorate of Plans, Training, and Security,” said Shaver. “By tying in the Ammunition Supply Point staff, we were able to involve a whole different group that has direct ties to the units who draw and turn-in munitions.”
While all units that train at MTC are briefed about the dangers of UXO and what to do if something is found, outreach to the local community is just as important, Shaver said.
“Army regulations mandate that Fort Pickett conduct outreach and education to local communities, and even though we do that already to a certain extent, this training was helpful in that it gave us a few extra pointers and resources to be successful,” said Shaver. “We want to keep everyone safe, and this training focused on how to reach different age groups.”
Shaver explained how the new training and resources made available by USACE will help in their ongoing efforts to raise community awareness.
“Fort Pickett has had a UXO outreach program for a number of years, and we’ve supported events across the communities from Family and Farm Day here in Nottoway to Autumn Days in Victoria,” said Shaver. “USACE has really ramped up the resources available in outreach and with the rollout of the 3Rs program, we are now getting centrally produced items for handouts that convey the messages and help raise awareness.”
The 3Rs program streamlines and simplifies the steps to take if a suspected UXO is discovered. The first step is Recognize, which helps the observer with recognition of munitions, and also recognition that UXO are inherently dangerous. The next step is Retreat, meaning carefully leave the area without touching or disturbing the device. Lastly, Report means simply calling 9-1-1.
The 3Rs program also explains that UXO can be found anywhere, but the probability increases in areas where military training has occurred. With a history stretching back to World War II, the likelihood of UXO being found on post or in the community increases.
“Fort Pickett has had an immense variety of live-fire training here starting back in 1942, and the landscape both on post and in the nearby communities has potential for munitions,” said Shaver. “These can be things that were dropped off in the woods, fired on a historic range, or even brought in from another location.”
Shaver also explained it isn’t just Soldiers training who could potentially find UXO, making community outreach through the 3Rs program even more important.
“As a federal installation, we support training and testing, routine post support operations, land management and recreation,” Shaver said. “Anyone from military, interagency, and other assorted organizations could be using the facilities here for a variety of purposes. Aside from who you would normally expect, this also consists of environmental professionals, archeologists, loggers, and people from far and wide that come here to hunt, fish and cut firewood.”