Business casual on Monday, camouflage by Friday: ISO-NE engineer Avadhish Dewal’s unconventional second job

Avadhish Dewal woke up on a Monday, drove to work, and had a typical day in the office. Four days later, he was in military camouflage participating in training drills.

For the ISO New England assistant engineer, life can transition from the cubicle and the training grounds pretty quickly. Dewal is a machine-gunner infantryman serving in the Charlie Company of the 181st regiment in the Massachusetts National Guard.

Admiring the military from a young age, Dewal always knew he wanted to enlist. He said the Army’s motto, “this we’ll defend,” was a phrase that resonated with him to his core.

“As someone who was born in India, it’s so easy to see what makes the United States so great and different than others,” he said. “I really do believe in everything this country was built on and everything it stands for. It’s something worth defending and preserving, and service was the way for me to do that.”

Dewal chose the National Guard because of the flexibility that it offered him in his professional life. The part-time responsibilities in the 181st regiment have allowed him to carry out his desire to serve while also holding a full-time job as an engineer at the ISO.

“In a way, this choice gave me the best of both worlds,” he said. “Since this grants me dual purpose to serve, I can respond to disasters on both the state and federal levels as well as deployment overseas. I think that’s pretty cool.”

Founded in December of 1636, The 181st regiment of the Massachusetts National Guard is the oldest combat regiment in the United States Army, having compiled an impressive list of service achievements throughout its history.

The regiment first served in the American Revolution, most notably fighting in the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The combined service has included the war of 1812, both World Wars, Guantanamo Bay, and search-and-rescue missions during Hurricane Katrina.

While the 181st remains headquartered in historical Cambridge, the regiment regularly reports some 30 miles west to the modern Fort Devens military base in Ayer and Shirley, Mass. According to Dewal, trainings are held between two-to-four times annually, but additional drills vary year-to-year depending on the most recent mission.

“We travel various places ranging from Joint Base in Cape Cod, Fort Drum in New York, and Camp Ethan Allen in Vermont to name a few, but the locations vary depending on the training requirements,” he explained. “This year, we had a two-week field exercise with some companies in Central America. Next year, we are supposed to be in Senegal for the same two-week training.”

Recently, Dewal participated in his latest training at Fort Devens. For three nights, infantry in the regiment slept in a field to simulate wartime reality. Most of the weekend was spent mastering the individual weapon system assigned to each infantryman, Dewal said, subsequently qualifying each soldier for use in service.

“I serve as a machine gunner with my platoon,” he said. “As a machine gunner, we were required to qualify on the M249 SAW [squad automatic weapon] by hitting targets between 100-500 meters away. We were required to do this at night, too, using PVS-14 night vision goggles and infrared lasers.”

Other members of the platoon, including riflemen and officers, had similar training as well, qualifying with M4A1 carbine rifles and M9 pistols. Believe it or not, the qualification might have been the easiest part of the training; on the last morning, the entire Charlie Company woke early participate in the “ruck march.”

“The company ruck march is a 12-mile foot march with full gear, including Kevlar, rucksacks, and weapons systems,” Dewal said. “If weapons systems included extra barrels, bipods, or tripods, that extra weight had to be carried, too. It’s one the best ways we can simulate wartime realities.

Following the training, many members of the Charlie company were deployed to Africa as a part of the Combined Joint Task Force—Horn of Africa. They returned home during the holiday season.

Inside ISO New England