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Public affairs soldiers practice dealing with media response in a disaster

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Posted: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 4:30 am

When disaster strikes, it takes all kinds of soldiers to respond, including public affairs.

Soldiers with the 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment and 13th Public Affairs Detachment conducted weeklong training for an upcoming mission to support disaster relief efforts throughout the next year.

At the start of the fiscal year, the detachments joined the National Weather Service Response mission and in April, they begin the Command and Control Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Response Element mission, said Maj. Steven Miller, commander of the 7th.

During the training last week, the detachments responded to a scenario involving both rotations — a hurricane on the Gulf Coast, which led to a leak at a nuclear plant. Col. Matt Elledge, garrison commander, stood in as a city manager, and soldiers had to prepare him to address the media.

“This gives us experience with preparing people for media engagements who are not public affairs,” Miller said. “We are treating this rotation like a deployment.”

Elledge said he was more than happy to lend a hand as a role-player.

“It’s helping them out. They are such a small elements here on Fort Hood, but an important element. It’s important for them as they deal with senior leadership to set folks up for success,” he said. “It also helps me because we want to get the right messages out at all times.”

Aside from organizing and prepping for press conferences, soldiers also observed coverage of the mock hurricane and responded to media inquiries from role-players.

Spc. Marcus Floyd, a new print public affairs specialist, said the training exercise helped him learn exactly what his job entails.

“I’m gaining a lot of knowledge, especially on how it reflects what to do in the real world,” he said. “It’s a really great experience.”

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