Soldiers with the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 235th Military Police Company recently completed training at Fort Chaffee, Ark., in preparation for their second tour of duty in Afghanistan, which begins in February.
Based in Rapid City, the 235th also has a detachment in Sioux Falls. Its mission is to provide security for U.S. military and coalition forces, provide protection of installations and facilities, and to guard prisoners of war and civilian internees.
The 124-soldier contingent spent from Dec. 2-15 training in Arkansas.
“Our soldiers arrived with their game faces on and have completed the tasks set before them with excellence,” said the unit’s commander, Capt. Thadius Schmit of Rapid City. “This had been a very productive annual training and we look forward to serving our country.”
The unit was notified of the deployment more than a year ago. Soldiers started preparing and training for their mission in April.
While at Fort Chaffee, soldiers qualified on the M9 pistol and M4 rifle. Forty-eight soldiers qualified as experts with a 98 percent the first time on the M9 and 94 percent on the M4.
Fort Chaffee’s training facilities also permitted soldiers to complete qualifications on land navigation, hand-to-hand combat and battle drills training.
“I’ve been in the National Guard for 16 years and this had been the best annual training I have ever been a part of,” Sgt. Corey Virtue of Custer said. “It was a great opportunity to prepare for the unit’s upcoming deployment.”
During the unit’s training in Arkansas, 11 employers traveled to Fort Chaffee to see their employees in training during a two-day Boss Lift as part of the South Dakota Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. The employers watched soldiers conduct improvised explosive device training, vehicle convoy-lane training and detainee operations.