ESGR educates, informs local business leaders

  • Published
  • By Capt. Steven Stubbs
  • 186th Air Refueling Wing
COMBAT READINESS TRAINING CENTER, Miss. - The Mississippi Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and 186th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) invited 21 bosses, employers and supervisors to participate in a "Boss Lift" here 15-17 July 2015.

The ESGR, a Department of Defense office, strives to develop and promote a culture in which all employers support and value the military service of their employees.

"We want the employers to experience what the service members are doing when they're away from their civilian job and that they have training to complete for possible upcoming deployments and missions," said Jackie Sharp who is a Mississippi ESGR program support technician and also coordinated the Boss Lift.

The Citizen-Airmen of the 186th traveled from Key Field Air National Guard Base in Meridian to the Gulfport-based training center to conduct their two week annual training which allows them to train and practice to maintain mission readiness.

"As a KC-135 tanker unit in the Air Force today, no mission gets accomplished with an aircraft without tanker support.  In order to provide that support as a Guard unit, we have to be trained and ready at the same level as any of the active duty units," Col. Mike Nabors, 186th Air Refueling Wing commander, told the employers. 

The employers' trip started at Key Field where they boarded a KC-135R Stratotanker to fly to Gulfport.  During the flight, they observed a C-17 Globemaster perform maneuvers to accomplish an in-flight refueling.

"I am amazed at the precision and skill required by the entire crew to ensure the refueling mission is a success," stated Jan Smith, Southeast High School assistant principal.  "The pilots of both planes as well as the boom operator must complete the task with pin-point accuracy and that is amazing to witness in the air."

Tommy Booth, Mississippi Department of Transportation director of aeronautics, added that "the choreography between both the boom operator and the (C-17) pilot was amazing!"

After landing in Gulfport, the employers received capability briefings about the 186 ARW, CRTC, and the 255th Air Control Squadron.

At the completion of the briefings, ESGR representatives explained the mission of ESGR and concluded the first day by signing the ESGR "Statement of Support" which is the cornerstone of ESGR's efforts to gain and maintain employer support and is intended to 'open the door' to develop employers as advocates for their employees participation in the National Guard and Reserve.

Sharp said that "hopefully these employers will go back and influence other business owners to hire and support our Guardsmen."

"The ESGR has done a great job of giving us a glimpse of what out Citizen-Airmen go through when they are performing their Guard duties," stated Brad Woodall of Woodall Electrical.  "It helps us as employers know how to better support them."

The second day of the trip involved tours of the Coast Guard Base and the multitude of boats they operate and the Navy Construction Battalion Center where they watched students of the Naval Construction Training Center learn about the basics of construction.  The group also got a first-hand glimpse at what it is like to be attacked while driving in a convoy in the Combat Convoy Simulator.

Although these employers only got to see a small glimpse of military training, the exposure still had a lasting effect with one employer.

"I did not know much about the Guard, but now I have a better understanding of their duties," said Janie Brown, Mississippi Department of Employment Security.  "The best part was learning about all the different responsibilities they have while on base.  They do so much more than just train for drills."

'With all of the critical issues around the world, it's vitally important to support those willing to perform the duties necessary to keep our nation secure," added Smith.  "We support our employees by giving them the time to perform their National Guard duties and we also adjust their assigned duties so they're not overwhelmed when they return (from deployment)."

According to the Defense Manpower Data Center, over 3,500 Air National Guard personnel were deployed overseas in support of various operations in May 2015.  For that reason, employers, like Wanda Cooper, understand why it is so important to stand behind their Citizen-Airmen.

"Our National Guard men and women are being called on for increased involvement in both domestic and overseas operations.  It is now more important than ever that we support them so they will be ready and capable when deployed.  It is my duty to support them in their dedication to our country."