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El Paso residents participate as role players in Indiana military training exercise

By Sgt. Candice Harrison/ 24th Press Camp Headquarters

Nineteen residents from El Paso, Texas, drove more than 20 hours to participate as role-players in Vibrant Response 13, a major field training exercise conducted by U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North at three different training areas in Indiana.

The use of approximately 300 role-players is especially important to the training conducted at the complex because they add a sense of urgency and unpredictability not found in mannequins.

Many of the role-players from El Paso also perform the same roles at McGregor Range, N.M.

“I do role-playing in El Paso also,” said Carmen Rodriguez, from El Paso, Texas. “It’s something that I love, it’s really interesting because we are able to help our (service members) that are training.”

The role-players were dressed up in disheveled clothing and make-up resembling injuries that could occur during a catastrophic event. The role-players cry for help and moan to add an extra sense of chaos with the characters they were given to play.

Role-players realize the training value they bring to the table.

“My favorite part is talking with the (service members),” said Lupe Hernandez, an El Paso resident and a role-player at McGregor Range. “I want to make them respond to our needs, I think it’s very important.”

As with any training event, safety is a major concern. While realistic training calls for some risk, measures are put into place to ensure the role players are protected.

As an observer controller, the safety of the people that are participating in this exercise and the role-players is paramount,” said David Yandon, a survey analyst with U.S. Army North. “We want the men and women that are here to get great training, but we want them to do it safely. That’s our number one priority.”

The training complex is designed to provide the most realistic training possible. Without the use of role-players, that goal would not be met. Service members’ unique needs for role- players, and their willingness to participate, mesh into a remarkable fabric that benefits all Americans.

“I enjoy helping them out so they can help us in return,” said Rodriguez. “It’s an interesting job. It’s rewarding and I have a lot of fun doing it.”

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