David A. Bryant

Last week, I had the privilege of driving to North Fort Hood — late at night, with an even later night ahead —

to assist the Joint Task Force Civil Support’s public affairs personnel in training during the Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Response Force’s Exercise Sudden Response 2016.

It started about 8 p.m. and ended close to midnight — right about the time I turn into a pumpkin. I could have stayed until 3 a.m. to cover the training, but with an early morning, I had to rather unregretfully decline.

It’s only been two years since I retired, but in that short time, I realized two things: One, I really don’t miss all the late-night training exercises. And two, I really miss the training.

I know, it’s rather contradictory, but having the opportunity to help my brothers and sisters in uniform better themselves for real-world missions was something I thoroughly enjoyed.

The last few years as a civilian journalist have been eye-opening. When I was running a weekly newspaper in the military, the standing average was to get a minimum of three stories and a stand-alone photo per week.

I’m lucky now if that’s all I have to do in a day, so the experience in targeting what questions to ask for a particular type of story has become invaluable to my counterparts still serving in uniform.

Because of my unique experience, I can fully see how valuable it is to not only share my knowledge, but to assist in preparing our troops for “the real deal.” When I trained in similar scenarios while on active duty, our “civilian media” was played by fellow public affairs personnel. We didn’t have the experience with the number and types of questions a journalist on a deadline would ask, so we tended to get caught flat-footed.

So training like this would have been great.

It only took two journalists to rapidly inundate the team with emails and phone calls with questions, most of which they weren’t prepared for. It helped them broaden their range when looking for details to give out and pushed them on meeting the often immediate deadlines the press has when informing the public during a crisis.

It’s something I think more of my fellow journalists should consider doing in the future, as it not only helps our troops, but us when it comes to doing our jobs.

I also think other professionals could benefit from lending our troops a hand during training — such as first responders, American Red Cross volunteers and other local, state and federal agencies who would be involved in any major crisis on our home soil.

Not only would it help our troops be successful, it would help build relationships and make for smoother integration at the ground level.

Last week, I had the privilege of driving to North Fort Hood — late at night, with an even later night ahead —

to assist the Joint Task Force Civil Support’s public affairs personnel in training during the Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Response Force’s Exercise Sudden Response 2016.

It started about 8 p.m. and ended close to midnight — right about the time I turn into a pumpkin. I could have stayed until 3 a.m. to cover the training, but with an early morning, I had to rather unregretfully decline.

It’s only been two years since I retired, but in that short time, I realized two things: One, I really don’t miss all the late-night training exercises. And two, I really miss the training.

I know, it’s rather contradictory, but having the opportunity to help my brothers and sisters in uniform better themselves for real-world missions was something I thoroughly enjoyed.

The last few years as a civilian journalist have been eye-opening. When I was running a weekly newspaper in the military, the standing average was to get a minimum of three stories and a stand-alone photo per week.

I’m lucky now if that’s all I have to do in a day, so the experience in targeting what questions to ask for a particular type of story has become invaluable to my counterparts still serving in uniform.

Because of my unique experience, I can fully see how valuable it is to not only share my knowledge, but to assist in preparing our troops for “the real deal.” When I trained in similar scenarios while on active duty, our “civilian media” was played by fellow public affairs personnel. We didn’t have the experience with the number and types of questions a journalist on a deadline would ask, so we tended to get caught flat-footed.

So training like this would have been great.

It only took two journalists to rapidly inundate the team with emails and phone calls with questions, most of which they weren’t prepared for. It helped them broaden their range when looking for details to give out and pushed them on meeting the often immediate deadlines the press has when informing the public during a crisis.

It’s something I think more of my fellow journalists should consider doing in the future, as it not only helps our troops, but us when it comes to doing our jobs.

I also think other professionals could benefit from lending our troops a hand during training — such as first responders, American Red Cross volunteers and other local, state and federal agencies who would be involved in any major crisis on our home soil.

Not only would it help our troops be successful, it would help build relationships and make for smoother integration at the ground level.

David A. Bryant is an Army retiree and the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at dbryant@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7554.

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