GUERNSEY – Camp Guernsey’s primary warehouse received renovations in order to increase the facility’s efficiency, allowing the Wyoming National Guard to better fulfill the critical t role it serves in the state.
“We’re an important resource for the governor as he deals with a wide variety of things that could happen inside the state. Our goal is to be as ready as possible for whatever happens,” Maj. Jacque Morey, interim public affairs officer for the Wyoming National Guard.
Camp Guernsey serves as a regional training center. It includes over 78,000 acres of land with training ranges and maneuver areas, and the site also includes 64 square miles of air space. Its rural location provides advantages, as there are limited restrictions on movement, noise and training.
“Camp Guernsey exists to facilitate and support realistic combat training for current and future American fighting forces,” said Maj. Morey.
The camp divides into four different training areas. The north training area is around 51,000 acres and hosts a designated impact area for artillery. It also has space for close air support and aerial bombing activities. There are some fire ranges for heavy weapons and smaller firearms as well as live fire convoy routes.
The southern training area, smaller than the northern area, has many ranges for several types of combat training, including an obstacle course and a high ropes training course. Navigational training can be completed in this area.
The third training area is the cantonment area. Camp Guernsey’s newly renovated warehouse is located in this area of the camp. This area also houses the dining hall, barracks, the Cowboy Challenge Program and the maintenance facility, the collection of buildings resembling a small town.
The fourth training area is the airfield. Wyoming Air National Guard C-130s are a customer and the flight line can even accommodate a C-17 transport plane.
“Specifically, the Wyoming Army National Guard has field artillery units that can accomplish their live fire training requirements there. Our aviation unit with the Blackhawk Helicopters can also accomplish important training activities. We have an engineering company and two infantry companies that can also take care of their annual training requirements without having to leave the state. It’s a Wyoming National Guard Camp, but we provide training opportunities to other military customers and non-military customers,” said Maj. Morey.
Branches of the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, local and state agencies and civilians have used Camp Guernsey to train. Additionally, units from other states and locations will come to the camp as well. Other National Guard units will come to Camp Guernsey for annual training. Some other units use the camp for pre-deployment training. However, Camp Guernsey’s primary and priority customer is the Wyoming National Guard.
“The Camp has the following permanent tenants: Wyoming National Guard’s 123th Regional Training Institute, US Air Force 90 Ground Combat Training Squadron and the Wyoming Challenge Academy,” explained Maj. Morey.
Additionally, Maj. Morey stated that the camp also hosts the US Air Force, US Army, US Marine Corps, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Civil Air Patrol and the Boy Scouts of America; every year, Camp Guernsey supports thousands of personnel.
Pole Mountain Camp, located in Albany County between Cheyenne and Laramie, was a temporary camp for the National Guard, constructed in 1924 and frequently utilized during World War II (Wyoming National Guard). However, poor conditions for training in the area contributed to the training camp’s location eventually moving, as the Department of War would not fund Wyoming to make improvements to the facility to make it more permanent, according to the Guard.
Former Wyoming Adjutant General, Col. Rhodolph L. Esmay lobbied Wyoming state government in 1931 to find a better location for the national guard camp, and in 1938, a deal was reached that would surrender the property of Pole Mountain in exchange for 120 acres of land owned by the state in Guernsey. A temporary training camp was set up in Guernsey in June 1938 (Wyoming National Guard).
“The current site, in Guernsey, was attractive for its lower and warmer altitude, hilly terrain, abundant water supply, ample building materials, large areas of adjacent state-owned land and its proximity to a major railroad line,” according to the Wyoming National Guard.
Originally, the Guard leased the area, but it was interested in building a permanent camp on the land (Wyoming National Guard). Maj. Morey explained that the Wyoming Military Department manages Camp Guernsey’s training areas, and through legislation and support from the state, the camp has expanded over time.
“Camp Guernsey is important because it allows us to accomplish a wide variety of training requirements without leaving the state. It also attracts other units and organizations to accomplish their training,” said Maj. Morey.
“The National Guard has two distinct missions. We are the primary combat reserve for the army and air force, and we are the governor’s local resource to be called upon for a variety of domestic emergencies. We describe it like this: we are the sword, lethal on the battlefield, and the shield, responsive at home.
“In the military world we talk about three components: active duty, the Guard, and the Reserves. The Guard is unique because we can be used for domestic response, and that’s historically been kind of our niche,” Maj. Morey elaborated.
Some of these domestic emergencies include fires, flooding, other types of severe weather and civil unrest.
During COVID, the National Guard was activated to provide local hospitals with support and healthcare organizations.
The Guard was activated during COVID on a number of occasions. In the fall of 2020, the National Guard partnered with the Department of Health, when COVID saw a surge in Wyoming, and assisted with contact mapping. The contract mapping mission was around thirty days, which allowed the Department to Health to create a long-term solution.
The Guard just finalized another COVID-related mission this spring. Airmen and Soldiers worked in local healthcare facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes and clinics to provide backfill support. Some did COVID testing, while others cleaned or delivered meals. They helped out with whatever the facility needed.
“You’ve got this pool of really skilled and trained people who can be leveraged for a number of different types of missions.
“Each of our Airmen, each of our Soldiers also has a military job that would be used in the federal mission, the overseas mission. We really pride ourselves on our federal mission,” said Maj. Morey.
For example, Maj. Morey is an Air Force officer and force support officer, doing personnel training and food services under what she has been trained to do by the Air Force. As a Guardsman, she is asked to be multi-capable. For example, if the state needed it, she could work in a hospital.
“You are a technical expert in something, but we ask you to be multi-capable,” explained Maj. Morey.
Soldiers and Airmen are responsible for keeping current training for federal missions.
The warehouse at Camp Guernsey just finished a renovation, which will help support the Guard’s mission.
The warehouse generally houses soldier equipment. It includes unique equipment soldiers may not be issued all the time but may require, depending on the mission. In 2021, Camp Guernsey was the supply point for troops traveling to the Washington D.C. region for inauguration support.
It allows the National Guard to keep resources on-hand and maintained to be used for specific missions.
The warehouse was in-use until the remodeling started, and temporarily, the supplies relocated to a different building at Camp Guernsey. The warehouse underwent renovations to help improve the efficiency of the facility.
“The full time team that works out of the warehouse includes 8 Soldiers and a workstation for our Ammunition Supply Point personnel. The improvements included dedicated workspace for those individuals as well as improvements to the storage system for the inventory for which they are responsible,” explained Sergeant First Class Toni Cooper, Supply Systems Analyst.
SFC Cooper explained that prior to the remodeling and renovation, the area where Soldiers worked in desks lacked climate control and the area also had forklifts using the same space, so specific office space, provided by the remodel, will allow for a more efficient and intentional workplace environment.
Workspaces were improved, where Soldiers would work on computers. The inventory storage and cataloguing of materials is more intentional. The heating and cooling systems were also refreshed.
“How Soldiers worked has changed so much since that building was originally built,” Maj. Morey explained. “When it was built, you couldn’t envision the IT network you would need, the infrastructure you would need, and the technology available to help manage storage.”
According to Cooper, the process of issuing and receiving equipment has also been improved, which allows more time for training. Additionally, new equipment was purchased, including containers and shelving for storage use.
“Where the Soldiers sit and do their work is now in a space that’s built for that,” said Maj. Morey.
Overall, the renovations cost $1,295,306. State funds contributed $1,030,100, while $265,207 came from federal funds.
“The National Guard in every state, including Wyoming, is really a partnership between the federal government, specifically, the Army and the Air Force, and the state.
“The state provides a chunk of funding as well as employees. Many of our buildings, most of our buildings have some partnership between the state and the federal government, whether how it was built or the maintenance of that facility,” Maj. Morey explained.
“We’re always really grateful for the citizens and the support that we receive from Platte County given the importance of Camp Guernsey to our ability to keep our readiness for federal and state missions high. We always feel really supported by the community, and we’re happy to be there. Our goal is to be ready for whatever the state needs from us, and we’re happy for this project that allows us to continue to do a good job and take care of our Soldiers,” said Maj. Morey.
With the recent flooding in the Yellowstone National Park, northwest region of the state, Maj. Morey said the Guard is closely monitoring the situation.
“We are in close contact with the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security and the Governor’s Office. We stand ready to provide support should local officials and the Governor deem that necessary,” said Maj. Morey.
The Wyoming state public affairs, Alyssa Hinckley, is currently on maternity leave, so Maj. Morey is backfilling her.