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By Capt. Chelsi Johnson, D.C. National Guard Public Affairs
With the backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains, the District of Columbia National Guard's Multi-Agency Augmentation Command conducted annual training at Camp Dawson, West Virginia, August 2-8, to ensure readiness and increase their capabilities to support their mission better.
In support of routine, national crisis or wartime requirements, the MAC provides trained personnel for staff augmentation and operational support to the D.C. Joint Force Headquarters, D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, the National Guard Joint Operations Center, National Guard Bureau – Legislative Liaison, the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, the White House Military Officer, and other Federal and District mission partners as needed by the mission.
"We had several training opportunities that we wanted to accomplish while at our annual training. Due to the unique nature of the MAC mission, we don't usually train together often," said Maj. Jason Hanslovan, operations officer for the MAC. "These unique training opportunities were created for our service members to help them refamiliarize themselves with the basics because once a soldier, always a soldier and some of those skills are perishable."
Soldiers demonstrated their capabilities and team-building skills during the weeklong training through various events, including live-fire weapons familiarization range, an all-hazards exercise, Army Combat Fitness Test familiarization and an obstacle course.
"The all-hazard exercise was really one of the main events," said Hanslovan. "The focus was on a CBRN [Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear] related incident."
The exercise provided a unique opportunity for soldiers to think through the DCNG's response and support efforts in the event of a CBRN-related incident. The exercise culminated in each team presenting their findings to the leadership team, which included Col. Paul Franken, MAC commander.
"The MAC has a pool of highly trained and credentialed officers, both from their military and civilian experience, [whom] I can send [to assist in] a crisis," said Franken. "Exercises like this provide us an opportunity to bring together these experts, work through a specific scenario and gain a lot of learning points that we can take back and incorporate into our larger all-hazards plan."
In addition to providing assistance during times of crisis, the MAC supports National Special Security Events and the State of the Union Address and, as required, provides staff capability packages to augment the Joint Task Force-DC for Domestic Support to Civil Authorities operations.
"The MAC also has the National Guard's only criminal investigative and protective services capability," said Franken. "That is the only element like that currently in the National Guard that can provide support to either complex investigations or protective services."
While many units within the DCNG are the visible face of the organization, often the specialized soldiers of the MAC are behind the scenes, providing analysis to support the senior decision-making process that has long-term effects on the DCNG and the local community.
"We're looking at how we better support the District of Columbia National Guard in the future since the operational dynamic in the District has changed from prior years," said Franken. "Our support to COVID-19 missions, First Amendment and security activities in the National Capital Region over the past 18 months demonstrates a need for deeper integration with our Federal and District mission partners. We go where the missions take us, we try to shape the outcome and we're trained and ready."