Ohio National Guard News

Soldier journalists prepare to cover brethren

by Ryan Morton
ASA-Dix Public Affairs

ARMY SUPPORT ACTIVITY DIX, N.J.—The 196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (MPAD) is mobilizing at Army Support Activity-Dix (ASA-Dix), conducting mock press conferences and preparing news stories for its upcoming deployment to Balad, Iraq, where it will support the 13th Expeditionary Support Command.

The organization, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is made up of 20 Army National Guard Soldiers. Some of the Soldiers in this unit will be telling the Operation Iraqi Freedom story for a second time. Previously, the unit colors were set in Tikrit, Iraq, in January 2004 until February 2005, supporting the 1st Infantry Division. The troops produced “Danger Television,” a monthly video newsmagazine, and “Danger Forward,” a monthly print news publication. Some of the Soldiers that deployed then are back for a second go-round as they will produce “Balad and Beyond,” a bi-weekly video newscast, and “Expeditionary Times,” a weekly 20-page newspaper, with their first-time deployed counterparts.

“I hope our younger Soldiers get as much experience as they can in public affairs such as setting up media operations centers, working the joint information bureau, media escorts and all the other tasks that don’t necessarily involve journalism as in shooting video and taking pictures,” said Sgt. 1st Class Steven Johnson, print team operations non-commissioned officer, from Columbus, Ohio, who deployed with the organization in 2004-2005.

“What I’ve learned from my experience is to pay attention to what the veteran Soldiers are doing. I try to tell my fellow Soldiers to keep their eyes open because the only way you can learn to be a Soldier is to pay attention to other Soldiers who are doing the right thing,” he added.

Sgt. 1st Class William Smith, broadcast team operations NCO, from Felicity, Ohio, was also in Iraq as a specialist and feels much more nervous this second time because of his added responsibility as a senior NCO.

“I’m responsible for my fellow Soldiers, so it’s completely different. I focus on making sure they’re prepared in every single way,” Smith said. “I let them know that the key to any deployment is flexibility. You may have to pick up and move or cover missions on consecutive days. You just have to be ready.”

The challenge for this new mission, said 1st Sgt. Steve Toth, from Columbus, will be to showcase Soldiers who do the less alluring jobs such as postal and administrative, rather than most of the jobs the public sees, such as infantry and armor.

“Our challenge is to take these types of missions under the sustainment umbrella and feature these Soldiers who do these jobs that may not seem as glamorous, but are still important to the overall success in Iraq or theater of operations,” Toth said.
While at ASA-Dix, the 196th conducted both public affairs and combat training, including M-4 weapons qualification, convoy training, improvised explosive device recognition, and mounted and dismounted patrols. As part of their public affairs training, they conducted a mock news press conference with ASA-Dix’s deputy commander for mobilization, Col. Larry Boyd, as the briefer. MPAD Soldiers were assisted by the ASA-Dix public affairs staff. Trainers from the 72nd Field Artillery Brigade played the roles of cameramen and reporters, grilling Boyd with questions on the state of mobilization at ASA-Dix.

The Soldiers did very well according to the public affairs staffs of the 72nd and ASA-Dix, and expectations are high for these Soldiers when they head to Iraq. They are coming off a major victory for a newscast they produced back home in Ohio. They were named Keith L. Ware (KLW) winners for 2009 in the local television newscast category for a program they did called “Eye on Ohio.” The KLW is a major annual Army-wide competition which recognizes journalistic excellence for both Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians. The awards are given in many different categories including print, radio and television products.
To see products by the 196th MPAD visit www.dix.army.mil



Staff Sgt. Nicholas Pavlik (left), from Columbus, Ohio, and Staff Sgt. Randall Carey, from Holland, Ohio, play cameramen during a mock press conference training exercise April 2 at Army Support Activity-Dix's (ASA-Dix) Public Affairs Office. The Soldiers are in the 196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (MPAD) and are at ASA-Dix training with their fellow brethren for an upcoming mission in Balad, Iraq. The 196th MPAD is an Ohio Army National Guard unit from Columbus. (Photo by Ryan Morton, ASA-Dix Public Affairs)

Sgt. Michael Carden from Westerville, Ohio, takes digital still pictures of Navy Cmdr. Jeff Cartwright (kneeling left), from Cabool, Mo., and Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Newkirk, from New Albany Ind., as they throw grenades during an April 2 training exercise at Army Support Activity-Dix (ASA-Dix). Carden is assigned to the Ohio Army National Guard’s Columbus-based 196th Mobile Public Affairs