National Guard Pre-Deployment Training

The ABC 10 “Salute to the Troops” continues tonight.

Dan Gualdoni has the third part of his series about the Michigan Army National Guard soldiers headed to northern Afghanistan.

Tonight, the focus turns to mission-specific training for the 1,000 soldiers, including 8 from Upper Michigan.

Before the soldiers of the 125th Infantry Regiment headed to Camp Shelby, Mississippi for their active-duty orders, it was important to tie up any loose ends in their training.

From individual weapon qualifications to running through rehearsal scenarios, the troops put in long hours of drills.

One aspect of training the men had to focus on didn’t involve fighting.

It was about interacting with Afghan village elders.

Key leadership engagements – or KLE’s – are ways for the U.S. soldiers to gain information about potential roadside bombs and to find out whether or not the village is being used by the enemy.

It’s important for the soldier conducting the KLE to be respectful and non–threatening, and promises have to be avoided.

If a promise is broken, the village may turn against the troops.

Capt. Alexander Gualdoni, commander of Bravo Company, says no one can predict what will happen once the Viking Battalion hits the ground in Afghanistan, but they know the importance of these maneuvers for both young and veteran soldiers as they prepare for the task ahead.

Tomorrow night, in Part 4 of the Salute to the Troops, we’ll have a look at one of the most important training operations the soldiers do while at Camp Grayling.