Naval reservists train in America's heartland

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Petty Officer 1st Class Lisa Vanharn, Coastal Riverine Squadron 11, Detachment Alpha 2 information technician, provides classroom training to Naval reservists during their drill weekend, Feb. 9, 2013. Many of the security team members are gunner’s mates, masters-at-arms, logistics support personnel, information technicians or operations specialists. (U.S. Air Force photo/Heidi Hunt) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Petty Officer 1st Class Lisa Vanharn, Coastal Riverine Squadron 11, Detachment Alpha 2 information technician, provides classroom training to Naval reservists during their drill weekend, Feb. 9, 2013. Many of the security team members are gunner’s mates, masters-at-arms, logistics support personnel, information technicians or operations specialists. (U.S. Air Force photo/Heidi Hunt) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Bartlett, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Tonja Toumasis, Coastal Riverine Squadron 11, Detachment Alpha 2 electric technician, study U.S. Navy history for an upcoming exam during their drill weekend, Feb. 9, 2013. Each reservist must maintain a security clearance, have a passport, be medically fit to fight, have a family care plan ready and be swim-qualified. (U.S. Air Force photo/Heidi Hunt) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Bartlett, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Tonja Toumasis, Coastal Riverine Squadron 11, Detachment Alpha 2 electric technician, study U.S. Navy history for an upcoming exam during their drill weekend, Feb. 9, 2013. Each reservist must maintain a security clearance, have a passport, be medically fit to fight, have a family care plan ready and be swim-qualified. (U.S. Air Force photo/Heidi Hunt) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Far from any shoreline, settled in the Midwest, the U.S. Navy's Coastal Riverine Squadron 11 is anchored in America's heartland.

More than 70 Sailors, consisting primarily of security specialists and various others career fields, gather at Whiteman monthly to accomplish unit readiness and mission preparedness tasks.

"Coastal Riverine Squadron 11 performs core security missions in regional and coastal waters, bridging the gap between traditional Navy operations and land-based forces," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Allen Brantley, CRS hospital corpsman. "We do this by providing port and harbor security for vital waterways, and protection of high-value assets and maritime infrastructure."

Brantley said their mission also includes anti-terrorism and force protection services.

Not only do the Whiteman Sailors make every effort to put forth their best to maintain readiness, train and be combat-ready; they are also dedicated to being a part of the total force integration team.

"We are a separate identity from the Air Force on base, but we do work with their Security Forces Airmen on occasion," said Lead Petty Officer Robert Patterson, CRS 11, Company A, 2nd Platoon operation specialist. "We help out with some base events, such as 'Wings over Whiteman.'"

The unit executes a demanding mission, requiring constant effort from the dedicated members of their team.

Reserve Sailors are required to be mobilization-ready at all times, on and off the clock.

"Each reservist must maintain and at all times have a security clearance, government passport, be medically ready, have a family care plan and be second class swim qualified," Brantley said.

"Additionally, most of the requirements are done on their own time and many often dedicate their off-time to be compliant," he said. "All information must be kept up-to-date. And, most importantly, the mindset of the Sailor[s] and their families must be 'ready separation' at all times."

Many of the team members are gunner's mates, masters-at-arms, logistics support personnel, administration support and medical support, said Brantley.

"The demands of being in a unit that is worldwide-deployable, anytime day or night, [are] very high," Patterson said.

In addition to meeting their mobilization-ready demands, reservists must also be weapons- qualified. They are required to maintain qualifications on the Beretta M9, M500 shotgun, M4 carbine, M240B machine gun and .50-caliber crew-served weapons, to name a few.

The 2nd Platoon just returned from a very successful, year-long deployment providing security around the world, said Brantley.

Patterson echoed this praise and said it was a successful completion of a deployment to provide anti-terrorism and force protection. Navy support is often provided when host nation support is nonexistent or inadequate.

"I have no doubts that I am surrounded by the best, most able-bodied Sailors in the U.S. Navy," Patterson said.