Story by: Pvt. Rachel L. Sanzo - 42nd Infantry Division Public Affairs Dated: Mon, Apr 21, 2008
Pvt. Christopher Ruiz, a member of the Joint Task Force Empire Shield Team Airport and part of the Quick Reaction Force performs standard weapon clearing procedures during a Quick Reaction Force drill training exercise at Empire Shield Headquarters JFK airport April 20, 2008. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Peter K. Towse, 42nd Infantry Division Public Affairs
NEW YORK CITY -- When Pope Benedict XVI visited New York City April 18-20, Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard were on duty behind the scenes, ready to provide security if called upon.
Members of Joint Task Force Empire Shield, the National Guard’s New York City security force based at Ft. Hamilton, Brooklyn stood up a Quick Reaction Force ready to respond if state or city authorities needed help.
Soldiers of the Joint Task Empire Shield Team Airport took part in special training in preparation for the papal departure at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday, April 20.
Joint Task Force Empire Shield provides support to civilian law enforcement agencies providing security to nuclear power plants, subways, and airports in New York City.
“At Team Airport, we provide security for the JFK and LaGuardia airports in support of the law enforcement agencies,” said Maj. Angelo Agro, the Team Airport commander. “We have soldiers out there 24/7 providing security.”
Some of the training involved familiarization with the Glock 19 pistol, weapons awareness and retention, and quick reaction drills for the Quick Reaction Force (QRF).
The troops were trained in marksmanship and other safety procedures using the beam-hit simulator by experienced instructors.
Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Johnny Noguera, a member of the 106th Air National Guard Rescue Wing and resident of Brooklyn, taught individual Soldiers different skills to include trigger control, breathing and proper stance.
“I want to make sure that they are confident enough to control the weapon and to rely on their training to continue on with the mission,” Noguera said.
The weapons awareness and retention safety class was a reinforcement of previous training reminding Soldiers how to carry a weapon in a civilian environment.
“We taught them basic body movements and defensive tactics while carrying a weapon,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Riello, the QRF support training NCO. “We are teaching them to make sure their weapons remain in their control at all times.”
The QRF is a group of Soldiers from different units across the state brought together to form Team Airport. Part of their responsibility entails being on call to provide support to local authorities whenever needed.
“The thing I tell my Soldiers that is that we are here to protect and serve the citizens of New York... we want to make them smile, and we want to make the bad guys sweat,” Agro said.