One side of the Air National Guard’s Mobile Experience booth looks much like a kitchen that could be found in any residence across the country.
But through another door in the exhibit is a mock command post designed to look like the ones guardsmen see when they’re deployed on missions. This duality is to impress on viewers and potential recruits the nature of joining the Guard, said Master Sgt. Andrew Stearns, a program manager for the mobile experience.
“This simulated experience demonstrates how our guardsmen serve our country and still maintain their day-to-day lives — one of the key points of difference for the Air Guard versus other U.S. military branches,” he said.
The interactive exhibit that was set up at the Schaghticoke Fair recently allowed patrons to participate in simulations aimed at replicating the real-life experiences during basic training, technical school and drill weekends.
The exhibit is touring states until December and highlights the traditional career path of a guardsman. The exhibit features a series of three interactive challenges simulating real-life roles and skill sets of those in the Air National Guard, including challenges that test electronic, mechanical, observational and spatial aptitudes.
The games are housed in a touring vehicle custom-built to simulate a mission command center and a home. The two distinctly separate environments are aimed at reflecting the dual life of the citizen soldier.
One station features a pull-up bar to test physical conditioning, while another station has a screen that brings up a picture of a medical facility and tests participants’ ability to recognize instruments. A third station is set up like the control station of a drone and has participants identify certain aspects of a surveillance image.
Participants receive dog tags that track their scores at each gaming station. After completing all three challenges, participants get their picture taken inside the mission command center and are sent their final scores, along with how they ranked among other tour participants.
Staff Sgt. Darren Landerway, a recruiter based with the 109th Airlift Wing in Glenville, said the interactive device was popular at the Schaghticoke Fair, drawing hundreds of participants throughout the six-day fair. The booth was even more popular during a stop at the State Fair in Syracuse.
“This is a more hands-on, more enjoyable tool,” he said of the exhibit.
The Air National Guard is a reserve component of the U S. Air Force. Guardsmen serve a dual role, supporting both federal and state missions, and are called upon in times of natural disaster and civil disturbance and to support homeland defense. There are 140 units across the U.S. states and territories.
The Air National Guard offers more than 200 career field opportunities, including communications, engineering, ministry, technology and the health care industry.
Landerway said the exhibit helped showcase some of the different opportunities offered by the Air National Guard. He said the exhibit is an excellent recruiting tool that allows prospective guardsmen to get a feel for the experience.
“It’s starting to show individuals the different opportunities and different avenues when they join,” he said.