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NEWS | April 9, 2024

CHINFO Reserve Personnel Conduct First of its Kind OPTASK-VI Training

By Chief Petty Officer Patrick Gordon

On a brisk March morning a small craft barrels down on a Navy vessel making its way off shore. The small craft is like many used by our nation’s adversaries, and sharp-eyed Mass Communications Specialists (MCs) are some of the first to see it.

“VIPER Team Gold! Contact, Port Side,” yells a chief to his Sailors, all armed with cameras and at the ready as the small craft inches menacingly closer to the vessel until it rocks upon connecting hull-to-hull.

Camera shutters snap rapidly, capturing photos and video of the incident before the craft breaks to starboard and away. Just as quickly the MCs are down ladder wells to workstations to fire off product of the maritime harassment to their public affairs officer in the hope of quickly — and accurately — telling the U.S. Navy’s side of the story.

But this incident did not happen in the South China Sea or the Straights of Hormuz. Rather, it was off the shores of Annapolis, Maryland; the vessels a U.S. Naval Academy Yard Patrol (YP) Boat and a small craft part of Navy Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron EIGHT (MSRON 8). And the VIPER Team consisted of Reservists primarily from the Navy Office of Information-Reserve Component (NR-CHINFO) training for the first time in Operational Task Visual Information (OPTASK VI).

OPTASK VI is a no-fail mission designed to capture and document unsafe, unprofessional, or nefarious activities at sea, on land, and in the air. In order to counter propaganda and disinformation, video and still photos must show facts and context of such encounters, be cleared for public release, and disseminated within a tight window. Unlike Ship’s Nautical Or Otherwise Photographic Interpretation and Examination (SNOOPIE), OPTASK VI’s purpose is to visually document an incident for potential public release.

The unit-level training was the brainchild of Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jayme Bresnahan, a prior active duty Operations Specialist and member of the NR-CHINFO unit. Having seen the impact of OPTASK-VI on the Navy as a whole, she thought the unique resources available in the Mid-Atlantic provided a perfect opportunity for impactful training for Reservists.

“OPTASK VI stood out to me as something we really need to know how to do when we’re asked to step in, and so I asked if we could hold training on it,” said Bresnahan. “Originally it started as an idea to hold a day of training, but leadership encouraged then idea to grow bigger than just that.”

Empowered by her chain of command to create a multi-week exercise, Bresnahan set to work creating a comprehensive training plan, incorporating the Naval Academy and MSRON 8 as part of Train the Force efforts to prepare the Reserve MCs for mobilization and war fighting assignments.

"Upon receiving Bresnahan's training idea, I asked her if she grasped the immense undertaking of organizing a large-scale rate-related training exercise like the one you are proposing," said Chief Mass Communication Specialist Orlando Quintero, CHINFO Senior Enlisted Advisor and CHINFO Production's Leading Chief Petty Officer. "I instructed her to prepare a plan and expect to invest a significant amount of time and effort to realize her vision.”

Originally planned as a joint training with the Academy Midshipmen for the summer of 2024, that timetable moved significantly the left when it was discovered that MSRON 8 would be doing pre-deployment activities with their boats in the kind of encounters OPTASK VI was designed to capture. Undeterred by the shorter timeframe to prepare, Bresnahan and the unit Chiefs met with senior enlisted representatives of the Academy YP squadron and the MSRON.

"In our discussions with the senior enlisted leadership of the Academy Yard Patrol and MSRON 8 units, we found renewed optimism for the project, largely due to Bresnahan's unwavering enthusiasm and dedication," added Quintero. “There was initial apprehension, considering this type of training had never been done before with these units and on such a scale. However, both commands embraced MC3's training plan wholeheartedly and extended their support.”

With that, nine Reserve Sailors from CHINFO, Navy Office of Community Outreach, and U.S. Fifth Fleet were on the YP deck plates, capturing video and stills of the MSRON 8 craft simulating unsafe and unprofessional interactions between vessels in a maritime environment. In addition to the hands-on training, NR-CHINFO was able to coordinate with Chief Mass Communications Specialist Kory Alsberry, formerly assigned to Afloat Training Group West, to give classroom training to the Reservists on the same standards and procedures of OPTASK VI given to their active duty counterparts. In the end, the Navy Reservists received sign-offs on OPTASK VI and MC Personnel Qualification Standards and were able to expose 19 Naval Academy Midshipmen to the training and responsibilities surface warfare officers have with regards to OPTASK VI.

“Our job as MCs in the Reserve provides us with a unique opportunity to train regularly compared to other seafaring rates,” said Bresnahan of her drive to create this training plan. “I thought our job is too fun not to get out there and do it every chance we get. So, I thought about war fighting readiness and how we can train to be ready when its our time.”

To learn more about the Navy’s OPTASK VI program, visit .