By Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy McGuire
State Public Affairs Office
Wyoming National Guardsmen are on call to support civil authorities in a myriad of ways, including firefighting, flood mitigation and even riot control.
The state always has a unit trained and ready to support law enforcement should the need arise, and for a little more than a year, the baton of the National Guard Reaction Force in Wyoming has been in the hands of the 133rd Engineer Company, based in Laramie. The extra duty cycles to different units on a standard rotation.
The soldiers of the 133rd are primarily heavy equipment operators, horizontal engineers and mechanics. And while the majority of their time at drill weekends is spent on that focus, unit members also train to deploy quickly and support missions like establishing road blocks and check points; site security; show of force; and control of a civil disturbance. The team is also capable of operating in a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive environment.
Once a year all of the NGRF members have to certify their non-lethal restraint and weapons skills. That training and certification includes the use of pepper spray, Tasers and batons; all of which they learn from both sides of the weapon.
Getting an eyeful of pepper spray, getting knocked to their knees with a Taser or taking a few blows from the “black light sabers of death,” is just part of the deal, and “really cool,” according to Pvt. Elvvis Fangrow.
After completing a written test, and several familiarization exercises with the Taser, each soldier gets shot with a shock.
“Most units don’t get to do this,” Fangrow, an equipment operator, said after getting stunned. “I’m feeling very confident if we ever have to do riot control or something.”
Tech. Sgt. Adam Coulon, assigned to the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Security Forces Squadron and its full-time rapid deployment force, was one of several airmen training his brothers in green in Laramie.
“We are all certified instructors,” Coulon said of his unit. “We are giving them the same training we get every year.”
“This is definitely the highlight of our training,” said 2nd Lt. Marquez Perez, a platoon leader with the 133rd. “We have a revolving knowledge base. We’re always updating techniques and tactics, whether infantry tactics or setting up traffic control points.”
Jesse Curtis, special programs manager at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy, enjoys working with the Guard and familiarizing the soldiers with the same skills he teaches the officers they may be supporting someday.
He teaches them how to use a baton in a non-lethal way and warns them of the lethality of the weapon if not used in a disciplined manner.
“Remember, if you’re using this, you’re using it on bad guys who want to hurt you,” Curtis said to the group. “Use it well.”
It appears the engineers are ready and fired up, now, and for the future, if needed. And it seems little else fires up morale like watching your comrades get hit with a Taser.
“Yeah! Let’s do it again,” shouted Sgt. Felicia Staman.