Fort Polk Community
‘Attention in the JOC!’: Families enjoy JOC tour, peek behind scenes
Story by Patricia Dubiel on 02/22/2019
The unit scheduled guided tours that demonstrated how telephonic and GPS communications are fed into computers and used to populate large projection screens to track rotational activities in real time. The tours were conducted during a live rotation, and when someone shouted “attention in the JOC,” it was a signal for everyone to remain silent as the speaker conveyed important information to the team.
Tours began in the Unit Ministry Team building, where Families could enjoy drinks, snacks and a hamburger lunch as they watched a short video highlighting the important role JRTC rotations play in Army readiness.
Col. David Gardner, commander, JRTC Operations Group, welcomed the Families and guests at the start of the tour.
“About six months ago, while my father was here visiting us, I thought it would be neat for the Families to see what we do here,” Gardner said. “It’s part Hollywood studio and part great training. The objective today is for Families to have fun and see what their spouses or parents are doing here.”
The tour groups were led into a building where several screens created a wall of images that flickered over long rows of people at computer stations. These stations were marked for their role in the rotational activity, including:
Civil affairs/psychological operations
Legal/staff judge advocate
Between 50-55 people man these stations, while another group monitors air assets in the Air Cell, also called “the eagle’s nest.” This is where Army and Air Force aviation personnel track helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and any other air vehicle associated with the rotations.
In addition to the facility tour, a few rotational roleplayers presented themselves in character: A local policeman, a foreign Soldier and two indigenous women that were experts in the application of “moulage” wound make up. With parental permission, children had the opportunity to get a mild wound placed on them so they could see how the process develops from fake plastic, paint and adhesives into realistic-looking injuries. The wounds were kept small and not too gory so none of the children would be frightened.
The kids were also invited to feed live goats and a donkey, which are used to add realism to rotational scenarios. Weapons and other items were shown along with photographs of previous rotations on large display boards.
One spouse, Erin Marsh, said the tour was good for the children. “It’s neat for them to see what their parents do in the Army because it can be hard to explain, and this gives them a peek into (the Soldiers’) lives,” she said.
Karson Marsh, age 8, said she liked seeing the animals best, but that’s not all. “Also seeing all the computers and the fake blood,” she said.
Fake blood was a popular attraction for many youngsters, including Ansley Vickers, age 4, according to her mother, Karen.
“It was my daughter’s favorite part (of the tour),” she said. “She was really interested in the fake boo-boos.'”