Story by LTC Angela King-Sweigart on 03/16/2018FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa.- Fort Indiantown Gap run by members of the Pennsylvania National Guard and Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs led the nation in Army National Guard mandays for fiscal year 2017.
This year's numbers mark an increase over last year's, with 10,000 individuals trained and an additional 15,000 mandays. The installation trained more than 130,000 service members, federal, state, local and international personnel, and had more than 775,000 mandays.
A manday is equal to one person training for one day. To illustrate, one person training on the installation for 14 days would be equal to 14 mandays, whereas two people training on the installation for 14 days would be equal to 28 mandays.
Garrison commander Lt. Col. Lane Marshall said, "Fiscal year 2017 proved to be even busier than last year. My staff did an incredible job."
Training and Range Operations
At the core of the installation's function as a training installation is its range operations including the simulations and range complex. All personnel training here must complete training request forms as well as coordinate for training areas which fall under range operations.
The Department of Plans, Operations, Training and Simulations (DPOTS) continued to develop new ranges to better train service members. One initiative was the development of light machine gun capability on Range 26, according to Capt. Toby Angove, the range operations officer for the installation. "This project enables the range to be dual-purpose and increases our ability to provide training capability / throughput without having to build a new range," Angove said.
Additionally, Range 6 was repurposed for scaled gunnery laser and blank fire and Range 4 was repurposed to a combat pistol qualification range.
Range operations also hosted the state and Mid-Atlantic regional Best Warrior Competitions. These multi-event competitions test Soldiers' endurance and skills in a variety of tasks including land navigation and marksmanship.
For the first time ever, the installation hosted an air assault course. Army Air Assault School is a 10-day course designed to prepare Soldiers for insertion, evacuation, and pathfinder missions that require the use of multipurpose transportation and assault helicopters.
Additionally Fort Indiantown Gap hosted its second division-level warfighter exercise in October, as well as military partners from Lithuania.
Maintaining Fort Indiantown Gap's more than 700 buildings and miles of roads is the responsibility of Bureau of Reservation Maintenance staff. The staff is made up of a variety of skilled craftsman and maintenance workers.
In addition to maintaining the facilities, construction projects were completed to improve the installation and repair infrastructure.
According to Lt. Col. Daneen Hutton, director of public works for the installation, "Public Works managed $4.1 million in sustainment, restoration and modernization projects to include WWII era building renovations, roof replacements, fencing, aviation simulations canopy, sewer line replacementsewer line replacement and airfield parking apron paving."
Additionally, two military construction projects broke ground, a $11.4 million Training Aids Support Centerand a $1.48 million unmanned aerial vehicle hangar addition.
The logistics section, which manages the post warehouse, ammunition supply point, billeting and supply and services, as well as the installation property book, was busy supporting the training.
"This year we increased our ammunition issue by more than 800,000 rounds, bringing the total to 13.2 million rounds issued," said Maj. Alan McCord, chief of logistics for the installation. The ammunition supply point also recycled more than 106,700 lbs of spent brass.
A unique project this year was that the staff section worked with military experts to receive and temporarily store Civil War-era black powder filled cannon balls that were discovered on the site of the former Allegheny Arsenal in Pittsburgh. The arsenal supplied Union troops and was the site of a deadly explosion in September 1862 that killed 78 people. The cannonballs were subsequently destroyed at a demolition range here.
Rounding out the section's accomplishments included the purchase of more than $200,000 in kitchen upgrades to modernize the installations 27 dining facilities, as well as improving property accountability.
"In addition to our workload we supported the warfighter exercise by providing a contract officer representative to assist in leasing additional vehicles and catered meals," said McCord.
The Fort Indiantown Gap Police Force provided support, security and law enforcement for more than 4,821 incidents in the last year. The police force patrols approximately 50 square miles, 724 buildings, 61 miles of paved roads, and 121 miles of trails. Over the last year the police force conducted numerous active shooter response and force on force training scenarios.
The police force received new uniforms joining many other law enforcement agencies in the traditional navy blue and adopting external load bearing carriers.
Chief Jon B. Worley explained, "New uniforms may seem like a small thing, but many people do not recognize the tools we have added to the duty belt. Our officers carry Tasers, flashlights, first aid kits, batons, OC, cell phones, body cameras, service weapon, extra magazines, handcuffs and radios. Officers found the external carriers help balance the approximate 30lbs of equipment. The exterior carrier also permits better venting from excess heat and officers appreciate the ease of removing the external carriers."
Fort Indiantown Gap Fire and Emergency Services responded to 454 incidents during fiscal year 2017. Those incidents included airfield, structural, wildland, hazardous materials and emergency medical. Fort Indiantown Gap Fire and Emergency Services provided assistance to 10 surrounding municipalities on 145 incidents.
Additionally, in Fiscal Year 2017 the Ft. Indiantown Gap Fire and Emergency Services purchased a new rescue boat combination with trailer to replace outdated equipment. The 14 ft. inflatable boat has a 25 horsepower motor and the 16 ft. rescue boat is equipped with a 50 horse power motor. Additionally, six ice rescue suits and six dry suits for water rescue were purchased.
"This updated equipment will allow emergency personnel to perform water/ice rescue in a safe manner and give them the additionally equipment that they need to the job safely," said Chief Donald Wilson.
During May 2017, Ft. Indiantown Gap Fire and Emergency Services personnel completed their annual live Fire ARFF burns and structural burns using trainers from West Virginia University. Personnel from the U.S. Army War College (Carlisle Barracks) and surrounding mutual aid departments also participated in the annual burns. Additionally, personnel completed Fire Inspector II certification via the Bucks County Public Safety Center.
Public affairs and community outreach
Deputy Base Operations Manager David Weisnicht, continued the installation's efforts in community outreach. "Our community members are our partners," said Weisnicht.
Additionally, Weisnicht continued to spearhead the installation's Army Compatible Use Buffer program. The program is intended to help facilitate land preservation efforts in order to alleviate encroachment on the installation. In 2017 the installation facilitated the conservation of more than 4,000 acres of pristine land near the De Hart reservoir using this program.
"This program is a win-win and enhances the efforts of our robust environmental team," said Weisnicht. Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard environmental team won two national awards this year, in part due to their efforts at Fort Indiantown Gap.
The office continued to supports the installation with an active Facebook page, community information line, FLICKR page, and DVIDS news service, as well as responding to more than 300 public inquiries.
Additionally Fort Indiantown Gap continues to host or allow facilities use for a variety of events for local and civic organizations including the Civil Air Patrol and the annual March for the Fallen , and the annual regal Fritillary butterfly tours.
Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Center
The Eastern AATS realized a milestone event with the completion of a new 85,513 square foot Aviation Maintenance Instructional Building (AMIB). The ribbon cutting for the event was held in November.
Additionally, Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Center dedicated one flight simulator, Blackhawk Aircrew Trainer or BAT, and two maintenance simulators (Blackhawk Maintenance Trainer or BHMT-M) were added to support and enhance training at the schoolhouse.
"This year we had several events that improved our ability to train aviators," said Lt. Col. Todd Tuttle, commander of Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site. "Last year we trained more than 220 students in seven different courses."
Fiscal year 2017 marked another busy year for Fort Indiantown Gap.
"We had another outstanding year here at Fort Indiantown Gap," said Marshall. "I'm looking forward to a successful 2018 as we continue to improve our facilities for those who train and work here."
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please contact Lt. Col. Angela King-Sweigart (717)861-6254, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org