Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers with the 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (MPAD), based out of Madison, Wisconsin are nearly complete with their mobilization to the Baltics.
This past May, eight 112th MPAD Soldiers mobilized to various locations across the Baltics, dividing the unit into three teams to provide public affairs coverage of U.S. forces and allies throughout Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
The mission of the 112th is to effectively communicate and showcase the multinational partnerships between U.S. forces and NATO allies and security partners. This is achieved through the creation of compelling imagery, interviews, informative products about various training and exercises, and community events.
“This is a tight-knit group made up of special Soldiers, and I couldn't be prouder of what the 112th MPAD has already accomplished during this deployment,” said Maj. Joseph Trovato, 112th MPAD commander. “The unit has earned accolades at every level, and the Soldiers are making a major impact at the strategic level in the European theater.
“We've entrusted our junior leaders to go out and execute their mission on their own, and they've really stepped up and continued to display their professionalism at every turn,” Trovato continued, “while churning out fantastic products that tell the story of both task forces that we've supported since we arrived.”
The 112th initially provided public affairs support to Task Force Ivy, led by the 4th Infantry Division, and now supports the 3rd Infantry Division-led Task Force Marne.
Responsibilities span mission planning and coordination, creating video productions, photographing events, facilitating media engagements, managing social media, and training unit public affairs representatives to augment the teams. The 112th has published approximately 900 photographs and 200 video products from more than 150 missions.
The division of the 112th into geographically separate teams has allowed junior noncommissioned officers to branch out from their normal content collection duties and assume roles that are not commonly available at home.
“A great positive that I have come across since being here is understanding my boundaries and what I’m capable of,” said Sgt. Alex Soliday, a public affairs mass communication noncommissioned officer. “I’ve learned I can take on leadership roles and maintain them at a high-functioning level.”
Soliday said one example of this was using his spare time to set up a Christmas event from beginning to end for the USO.
Additionally, with teams spread throughout the region, team leads had a unique opportunity to develop and use their content collection skills alongside their noncommissioned officer counterparts as well as perform in their regular officer role.
“As a captain, I felt the obligation to network with every key leader in the battle group and establish a [point of contact] with the public affairs representative of every participating country,” said Capt. Daniel Yarnall, a public affairs officer. “Additionally, I felt as though I had to establish contact with higher NATO command, which I did. Then I felt I had to lead by example when it came to content collecting.”
Outside of their public affairs mission, 112th Soldiers have also been able to take advantage of personal and professional development opportunities, and experience different cultures in the region.
Soliday has enjoyed getting to know new people, eating the local food and exploring different countries.
“My favorite experience in Poland has been being able to find my footing in something I enjoy and that is working with the USO,” Soliday said. “I have volunteered over 125 hours within the last three months and will continue until the end of my tour. Once we get back from deployment, I will hopefully pursue a career with the USO.”
Yarnall also spent part of his time supporting the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force-Africa in Italy. While a few things stood out as great experiences, according to Yarnall the best part was getting to spend time with a group of public affairs Soldiers.
“I feel like they grew to like having me around.” Yarnall said. “Additionally, I seem to have inspired their creative side with my Photoshop work.”
The unit’s commander took pride in the development of the Soldiers during the deployment.
“The most rewarding part of this deployment has been seeing these junior Soldiers develop their skills and knowledge while growing into bona fide leaders and subject-matter experts,” Trovato said. “Their confidence in themselves has grown exponentially, and it will set them up as public affairs leaders in our force for years to come. This theater is dynamic and critical to our nation’s security, and our Soldiers can return home knowing they’ve made a big impact here.”
The 112th is set to return to Wisconsin in the spring.