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Home | Tag Archives: fort bliss

Tag Archives: fort bliss

Professional Gamers get taste of military life through exchange partnership

Five professional gamers from Complexity gaming, a professional esports organization, put their consoles down and a rucksack on as they spent a day in the life of a Soldier at Fort Bliss on June 14.

The event was a partnership between the Army & Air Force Exchange Service and U.S. Army Installation Management Command, which are bringing esports tournaments to installations around the world.

Esports has become a focus of the Army, and leaders recently created an Army esports team to compete in tournaments nationwide to attract potential recruits. As part of the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) initiative, Complexity gamers lived and trained like Soldiers, learning skills such as discipline and resilience.

“My normal day I’m waking up at 10 or 11 o’clock, and today I was up bright and early at 5 a.m. to get ready for PT at 6,” said Complexity gamer Sam Hatch. “There’s so much that goes into being a Soldier. Until you walk a mile in their shoes you don’t understand how tough it is.”

Besides spending the day as a Soldier, the gamers also conducted a meet-and-greet and hosted an open play event in Fort Bliss Exchange’s PowerZone, giving Soldiers the opportunity to test their gaming skills against some of the best in the business.

“These events are a great way to spark Soldier curiosity and interest in esports and provide an outlet for them to recharge from the stresses of their everyday life while also strengthening retention and recruitment,” said Paula Bradford, Fort Bliss Exchange store manager.

The tables will turn later this month when 15 BOSS Soldiers travel to Complexity’s headquarters in Frisco, Texas, to get a first-hand look at what it takes to be a professional esports gamer.

Facebook-friendly version: Professional gamers from Complexity put their controllers down and rucksacks on as they lived a day in the life of a Soldier at Fort Bliss, with the help of the Exchange and IMCOM.

Author: Chris Ward  – Army & Air Force Exchange Service HQ

Ft. Bliss’ USASMA is now a Branch Campus under CGSC

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence is now an accredited school under the academic governance of the Command and General Staff College.

Qualified graduates of the Sergeants Major Course can now attain a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Workforce Development through USASMA.

A Combined Arms Center Execution Order on March 21, 2018, officially made a branch campus at USASMA, the CGSC’s fourth school, thus placing USASMA under CGSC’s academic governance policies and processes.

“Achieving accreditation is also another way we are adding value to our Soldiers’ service,” Sgt. Major of the Army Daniel Dailey said. “We are building readiness and developing highly-skilled leaders with competitive skill sets.”

The BA in LWD is a degree program which helps the Army develop better NCOs who are ready to lead and inspire Soldiers and units. There are 214 USASMA Class 69 students participating in the pilot program and more than 90 students are projected to be the first to confer their degree on 21 June.

“There has been a lot of emphasis as of late on the importance of education,” Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, commandant of the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence, said. “We cannot underscore that education is important, but leadership is equally important and developing our NCOs to be leaders is something we cannot take our eye off of. This accreditation is paving the way for our NCO Corps to focus in on taking care of, and leading soldiers. It allows them to focus on leadership, to develop individually and spend less time in college classes.”

Soldiers who pursue the BA in LWD receive 47 college credit hours at the completion of the 10-month course and only need to complete 27 hours of LWD major requirements and 15 credit hours in electives to attain the bachelor’s degree. SMC Students not in the LWD degree program receive a total of 41 college credit hours towards their degree program.

The BA in LWD degree requirements focus on four areas: Leadership, Decision Sciences, Training Program Management and Communication and intentionally leverages the Army’s leader development program for NCOs, as well as an individual’s professional experience. The SMC educates master sergeants and sergeants major to effectively assist commanders and field grade officers in the accomplishment of the unit’s mission.

The accreditation process, which has been 10 years in the making, has now come to fruition for USASMA through the guidance and milestones of past and present commandants. Starting with the last officer commandant, Col. Donald E. Gentry.

Gentry, commandant from July 2007- June 2009, he introduced intellectual rigor to the Sergeants Major Course as it moved from training to education.

“My vision for the Academy was to be able to award degrees to our students as part of our curriculum just as many of the senior officer schools within the Department of Defense were doing,” Gentry said. “We worked very hard at trying to identify the path and, to be honest, convince the accrediting agencies that our students and the courses they were taking were deserving of that result.

“We realized that to do this, we were going to have to change our methods and content. The students were already worthy of the degree by their own accomplishments as evidenced by the fact that they were already earning degrees on their own.”

Gentry was also responsible for restructuring the USASMA staff to mirror the staff structure of the CGSC by splitting the staff between an academia, headed by the dean of academics, and a support organization headed by the chief of staff.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army (Retired) Raymond F. Chandler III, was the first NCO to be commandant of USASMA. He held the position from June 2009 – February 2011.

“When I became the command sergeant major of USASMA, the leadership directives received were to take a hard look at what we were teaching and why, and how it was connected to the rest of Army”.
Chandler’s goal was to provide relevant, sergeants major who were able to contribute immediately to their unit’s success in the operational sergeants major role.

“The advancement of NCO education has progressed, and the BA in LWD is a testament to the great strides occurring,” he said. “Soldiers need to get all the tools beyond the hardware to keep them successful in what they can achieve. Fighting a peer, and near peer force, or a vague and ambiguous force, makes it absolutely critical to have an educated NCO force.”

Continuing the momentum after Chandler, Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy assumed responsibility for USASMA from June 28, 2011- June 10, 2014. Malloy was responsible for the implementation of semesters within both the resident and non-resident Sergeants Major Course which students currently rotate through.

“This was needed to create a university model,” he said. “We increased the GPA from 70 to 80 percent in order to pass an exam which was in line with a graduate degree program and gained several graduate degree credits from the accreditation body. Finally, we redesigned the exams and course material to a challenging collegiate level.”

USASMA’s next commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, continued pushing toward accreditation by gaining approval for an enlisted fellowship program for selected sergeants major.

These fellows would earn a master’s in adult education and become instructors in-turn, which met another element of accreditation by having credentialed instructors.

Previous Training and Doctrine command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport recognized the importance of NCO education in creating a professional NCO Corps. Through his determination and guidance he helped push the key initiatives for accreditation across the finish line.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, with the help of the Sgt.Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey, put the pieces together from the contributions of past commandants and built the framework for the USASMA to be documented as a regionally accredited institution within the academic councils of the Higher Learning Commission.

“This historic milestone will have a profound effect on the Army, the NCO Corps, and the legacy of our NCOs throughout history,” Dailey said. “An investment in our people is an investment in our future.”

“This is only the beginning,” Sellers said. “There’s more to come when it pertains to the education and development of our soldiers and noncommissioned officers.”

The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence provides professional military education that develops enlisted leaders into fit, disciplined, well-educated professionals capable of meeting the challenges of an increasingly complex world. We develop, integrate and deliver education and training readiness. We are the premier institution driving innovative development for enlisted leaders; constantly focused on readiness.

For more information on the NCOL CoE, click here.

Author: Danielle ODonnell  – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

NCOL CoE, USASMA celebrate a new path of education

Embarking on a new path of education, the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy at the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence hosted an official accreditation ceremony in the Kenneth W. Cooper Lecture Center on Fort Bliss, on June 14.

This event was held to commemorate the USASMA receiving an accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission and being named as a branch campus under the Command and General Staff College.

The NCOL CoE and USASMA spent the Army’s 244th birthday celebration by adding another milestone to Army history by unveiling the Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Workforce Development diploma from the USASMA.

“What a great day it is to be a noncommissioned officer,” Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, the NCOL CoE commandant exclaimed. “We began today with a four mile run, and a great conversation. Now, we are here on the Army’s birthday to officially acknowledge the fact the USASMA is an accredited institution and branch campus under the CGSC.”

Receiving an accreditation was a dream for USASMA, after 10 years of an arduous and complex journey down a road less traveled, this dream is now a reality.

The initiative encompassed years of course catalog development, assessment plans, policy bulletins, and most importantly the development and credentialing of a collegiate faculty. Every piece of the puzzle was imperative in order to develop the supporting academic justification for the USASMA to become a branch campus under the CGSC.

“If you look backwards you will have a better appreciation on what has occurred and what it took to achieve the desired goal,” Sellers said.

The Year of the NCO, 2009, was the same year retired Sgt, Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler became the first enlisted commandant of the USASMA. His vision for the institution is what placed USASMA on a course for higher education.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers the commandant of the NCO Leadership Center Excellence and former Combined Arms Center, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Philip Johndrow | Photo by Danielle ODonnell
The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

“I wanted to provide relevant sergeants major who were able to contribute immediately to their units’ success in the operational sergeants major role,” said retired SMA Raymond Chandler. “There was a huge gap. We were in a bubble and not understood at the time. We were not in sync. We needed to align our curriculum with the CGSC.”

The next commandant to take charge of USASMA was Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, now retired. Malloy added rigor to the curriculum, and changed the passing scores on tests from 70 to 80 percent.

“My vision was to bring the academy well into the 21st century and to ensure the sergeants major had the tools needed to meet current and future wartime needs,” Malloy said.

The third enlisted commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, who is also retired, instituted the USASMA Fellowship program and was lauded by Sellers for his innovative thinking on credentialing instructors, which became the foundation of the degree process.

The road less traveled took another turn towards accreditation in January of 2017, when Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, Charles Guyette, William Ogletree and members of the Army University met in Austin, Texas to collaborate on a pathway for the USASMA students to take in order to attain their degree in a timely manner.

“We have been waiting a long time and finally, summer is here,” shouted Sellers. “Which brings us to this point of accreditation a year sooner than anticipated.”

Keynote speaker, Command Sgt. Maj. retired Philip Johndrow the former Combined Arms Center, command sergeant major, spoke to the long journey USASMA has endured to attain this historic milestone in NCO history.

“With true NCO Corps fashion, when we see something that is important to us we will continue to press forward until we are able to see the mission accomplished,” Johndrow said.

During his time as the CAC, CSM Johndrow noticed the inadequacies in the intermediate level of education for officers in the rank of major receiving a graduate degree versus the enlisted soldiers graduating the USASMA with only some college credits.

“This started a long chain of many amazing leaders who continued to look at our senior NCO capstone school the USASMA and how we could maximize its effectiveness,” he said.

Speaking to the history of USASMA Johndrow highlighted key points in history which made this monumental achievement possible.

“In 1971 the Army gave the NCO Corps a huge boost by making an enduring commitment to NCO education, with the establishment of the NCO Education System. In 1972 the Army established the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy as the capstone of its NCO Education System. In January 2019 they received notification that the resident Sergeants Major Course was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, he said”

He reminded the students to be prepared for the challenge as a leader and to continue to self-improve, and seek education.

“We must develop and exercise our mind just as we exercise our bodies. Education is PT for the mind,” he said. “The Leadership and Workforce Development degree program is making the process of receiving the education you require easier to obtain and giving you the college credits, you deserve and have earned in recognition for the time you have invested.”

The Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Workforce Development is a degree program that helps the Army develop better NCOs who are ready to lead and inspire Soldiers and units. The core competencies of Leadership and Workforce Development are essential requirements for Army NCOs.

Using the motto of Sergeants Major Course, Class 69, Johndrow had one final word for the students.

“Embrace this opportunity and know that you will now be armed with tools necessary to BE THE DIFFERENCE,” he shouted!

Closing the event Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers thanked Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey, Maj. Gen. Jack Kem, former Army University provost, Dr. James Martin, CGSC Dean and the SMC developers Bill Backschieder, Lori Ramos, Jose Madero and Efrin Ordaz.

“On behalf of this institution and those receiving the degree on June 21, thank you, Sellers said. “Thank you for your hard work and dedication for bringing this accreditation to fruition. You changed the lives of at least 105 Soldiers this year and many more in the years to come.”

The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence provides professional military education that develops enlisted leaders into fit, disciplined, well-educated professionals capable of meeting the challenges of an increasingly complex world. We develop, integrate and deliver education and training readiness. We are the premier institution driving innovative development for enlisted leaders; constantly focused on readiness.

For more information on the NCOL CoE visit the website.

Author: Danielle ODonnell  – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

Gallery+Story: Holloman hosts Military Working Dog training

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – The relentless sun pierced the yellow sand and rows of small run-down buildings. An Airmen is pulled through one of the green door frames into an empty room by his panting K-9 partner. Their eyes are drawn to a furry, lifeless figure in the corner.

“It looks like your dog fell and injured his leg, what needs to be done now?” asked a veterinary technician.

The Airmen dropped his backpack full of medical supplies and sprang into action, taking out a wooden splint and cloth to provide care. The lifeless figure in need of assistance was a Jerry K-9 CPR manikin, used for practicing first aid techniques on a dog.

The 49th Security Forces Squadron Military Working dog trainers performed this handler lane training with U.S. Army veterinarian technicians from Fort Bliss, Texas. They simulated medically assisting their dogs in multiple scenarios that can take place in a deployed environment.

This training is done approximately twice a year to keep both the handlers and veterinarians sharp on their skills.

Members from the Holloman Veterinary Treatment Facility also conduct quarterly medical training with the MWD handlers. This portion of the training mainly consists of Powerpoint presentations instead of exercises.

“What we did was a dual training for them where they were practicing their detection, searching areas and sniffing bombs,” said U.S. Army Spc. Madison Jenkins, VTF noncommissioned officer in charge. “Then we would add emergency scenarios for the handlers, which required providing medical care for their dog.”

The mock deployment area allows the handlers and dogs to run through scenarios that could happen downrange, such as a broken leg or a spider bite, and simulate providing medical assistance to the dog while maintaining combat readiness in case of a threat.

Staff Sgt. Dennis Kim, 49 SFS MWD trainer, added that the stress handlers undergo during the exercises, are sensed by the dogs as well; and it is good to expose both to these situations in preparation for real deployments.

Although the MWD teams are emphasized during the training, the veterinarians gain experience as well.

According to Jenkins the training is invaluable for newly qualified veterinarians, and although deployments are very rare in the career field, they are not impossible.

“It’s important that they are ready in the event that they do deploy with the dog, or if an emergency occurs with a dog in-garrison,” said Jenkins. “It’s also helpful to learn and then teach somebody, it kind of solidifies it a little bit more for them.”

Since the veterinarians rarely deploy with MWD’s, handlers will take their dog to a human medic in the event of an emergency downrange. Even though these medics receive training, it is important for the handlers to be knowledgeable as well.

Jenkins stressed that the first few moments of a crisis before visiting a medic can be the difference between life and death for the dog, and with all the responsibilities of being a MWD handler and police officer, the additional knowledge of medical procedures can be difficult.

“It’s a lot to know for sure,” said Jenkins. “But it’s unfortunately just part of being a handler, they have taken on the responsibility of this very expensive living equipment. There are dogs deploying from here on a regularly basis, and it’s a constant cycle. So it is important that they are prepared.”

Author: Airman 1st Class Quion Lowe – 49th Wing Public Affairs  

Gallery+Story: Alaska National Guardsmen mobilize at Fort Bliss

Alaska Army National Guardsmen of 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, 38th Troop Command, are at Fort Bliss to train and prepare for an upcoming deployment to Kosovo in support of NATO’s Kosovo Force.

The battalion are staying in Texas for approximately two weeks to complete mobilization that began last September. They are participating in primarily administration, medical and personnel in-processing. They will be flying directly to Europe for their deployment after completion of mobilization.

Half of the unit departed to Fort Bliss on the morning of May 29, followed by the second half on the next morning of May 30.

During the training leading up to the unit’s departure, the Soldiers took part in a capstone training prior to their ceremony. They participated in multiple events, such as JBER’s Baumeister Range urban training complex where they simulated multiple scenarios such as unexploded ordnance and urgent medical situations requiring immediate attention from combat medic specialists.

During this training, Soldiers from the Wyoming National Guard participated as well.

The unit had its deployment ceremony at their home base, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on May 5, where Alaska Army National Guard Col. Joel Gilbert, 38th Troop Command commander spoke on behalf of the KFOR, or Kosovo Force, mission that the unit is to support while overseas.

The KFOR mission has existed since June 1999, marking this year as the 20th since its naissance.

The NATO mission in Kosovo is primarily to guarantee a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all citizens of Kosovo, as mandated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244.

In carrying out its mission, NATO cooperates and assists the United Nations, the European Union and other international actors, as appropriate, to support the development of a stable and peaceful Kosovo.

According to NATOS’s website, the objectives of KFOR are currently to deter renewed hostility threats against Kosovo by Yugoslav and Serb forces; establish a secure environment and ensure public safety and order; demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army; support the international humanitarian effort; and coordinate with, and support, the international civil presence.

The KFOR operation is supported by approximately 4,000 troops provided by 28 different countries, according to the NATO website.

Author: Pfc. Grace Nechanicky  – 134th Public Affairs Detachmen  |  Photos by: Candis Olmstead – U.S. Air National Guard

Ceremony recognizes Fort Bliss fallen heroes

Courage. Commitment. Bravery. Strength. These words resonated through the quiet gathering of friends, families and community members during the Fort Bliss Field of Honor Ceremony May 17 on West Bliss.

Guest speaker Brig. Gen Leigh R. Tingey, deputy commanding general for 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, spoke on the relentless dedication to service that defined the life of Spec. Avadon A. Chaves.

“He made the decision to serve and embodied everything the Army and the nation looks for in a Soldier, said Tingey. “Spec. Chaves was known for being a kind and loving family man. His selfless service is a lesson to us all.”

His surviving spouse, Tesa Chaves lovingly remembered her husband’s sense of humor.

“He made everyone laugh and had a huge heart for family and friends. “My best memories are of our wedding day, they will stay with me forever,” she said.

Chaves was remembered on a bronze monument that displays the names of 1st Armored Division Soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice since Sept. 11, 2001.

The California native was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bliss. He entered the U.S. Army on Aug. 8, 2015. His first assignment was B Company1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment as a Grenadier. Chaves died Dec. 20 2017 in Iraq.

“Let this Soldier’s name, and the name of the 94 other Soldiers be a reminder of why we serve,” Tingey said. “I implore you to visit this monument and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country.”

The Fort Bliss Memorial Day Ceremony will be held May 27, 9 a.m. at the Fort Bliss National, Cemetery.

Author: Stephanie Santos  – 1st Armored Division 

WBAMC hosts Fort Bliss Days of Remembrance observance

The Equal Opportunity team at William Beaumont Army Medical Center hosted Fort Bliss’ annual Days of Remembrance observance at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center, April 17.

The US Congress established Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. This year’s Days of Remembrance will be officially commemorated on Thursday, May 2, 2019.

More observances and remembrance activities will occur nationwide April 28 through May 5.

“The brutality of the Holocaust was a crime against men, women, and children. It was a crime against humanity. It was a crime against God,” reads a presidential message from President Donald J. Trump, published on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27. “To remember these men and women—those who perished and those who survived—is to strive to prevent such suffering from happening again. Any denial or indifference to the horror of this chapter in the history of humankind diminishes all men and women everywhere and invites repetition of this great evil.”

During the observance, an ensemble of children from the El Paso Jewish Academy recited Ani Ma’amin, an ancient Hebrew affirmation of faith which is interpreted as “I believe”. Following the rendition, WBAMC leaders lit candles in remembrance of those who did and did not survive the world’s deadliest genocide.

The observance also welcomed guest speaker Rabbi Ben Zeidman, of Temple Mount Sinai in El Paso, who spoke about his grandfather, a Navy veteran, and stories he heard growing up.

“(My grandfather) took great pride in his service. When I was old enough, I would hang out with him and the rest of the group of Jewish War Veterans,” said Zeidman. “One of the greatest lessons I learned from them was how our country was willing to fight when confronted by those who are motivated by hatred, destruction, fascism, and corruption, it’s a matter of our country’s values.”

According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, in the aftermath of World War I, Germans struggled to understand their country’s uncertain future. Citizens faced poor economic conditions, skyrocketing unemployment, political instability and profound social change. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party used these factors to offer solutions, exploit people’s fears, frustrations and hopes to win broad support.

The 1920s and 30s saw the rise of support for the Nazi Party, eventually leading to Hitler’s appointment as chancellor, and later declaring himself Führer and Reich Chancellor, leader of the nation and head of the government, leaving no authority above or beside him. Germany’s armed forces, civil servants, including teachers and police, members of parliament and the judiciary, swore an oath of loyalty to Hitler, not to any constitution.

Hitler further drew on the population’s fears by insisting “superior” races must battle “inferior” races or be corrupted by them, leading to the mass genocide of millions of Europeans.

“Hitler created a common enemy, and that rallies people together to do things, they thought they could never do,” said Col. Erik Rude, commander, WBAMC. “It’s never going to happen again because in America, we don’t swear to a dictator or a monarch, we swear to a constitution. We swear an oath to an ideal, a constitution that guarantees freedom for all.”

Originally, Nazis established ghettos to concentrate Jews and segregate them. Later, Germans and their collaborators deported roughly 2.7 million Jews and others to killing centers in German-occupied Poland.

“What I’ve noticed, 75 years after it ended, (discussions have) become very soft when we talk about (the holocaust), and it doesn’t need to be soft. If it gets soft, we forget how horrendous it really was,” said Rude. “It’s one of the most awful things that has happened since the beginning of mankind, so when we explain this to our children, It has to be (realistic), we have to explain how bad this really was.”

“I became a rabbi because I felt called to serve the Jewish people after the flames of the holocaust destroyed two thirds of the Jewish people in Europe, more than a third of Jewish people worldwide,” said Zeidman. “I also became a rabbi because I’m an American and a Jew, and my faith teaches me the pursuit of a perfect world is the obligation of my Judaism and my citizenship.

“We are here to remember that all bear responsibility to ensure nothing like what happened happens again. And if it happens, to recognize it is a disastrous loss of life and an attack on all we as Americans hold dear,” said Zeidman.

“Evil knows no borders, and the destruction of life must be fought. It goes beyond religious boundaries.”

Author/Photos by: Marcy Sanchez  William Beaumont Army Medical Center Public Affairs Office

Fort Bliss Mobilization Brigade holds Transfer of Authority ceremony

The 210th Regional Support Group transferred authority to the Fort Bliss Mobilization Brigade mission to the 653rd Regional Support Group at the Fort Bliss Museum.

The transfer of authority between the 653rd RSG and 210th RSG symbolized a changing of the guard where the 653rd RSG assumes control of the Fort Bliss Mobilization Brigade.

In conjunction with the CONUS Replacement Center and 5th Armored Brigade, the Fort Bliss Mobilization Brigade supports mobilizing and demobilizing Army Reserve and National Guard units with a cradle to grave approach which provides the training, logistical, administrative, personnel and quality of needs that units and Soldiers require prior to and after mobilization.

The Army Reserve and National Guard make up over half of the total Army, and the 210th RSG helped to mobilize and prepare more than 70,000 Soldiers and civilians for operations all over the world.

“In the past 17 years of sustained conflict, we’ve become very reliant on RC (Reserve component) units to mobilize, train, deploy, fight and win on behalf of our nation,” said Col. Steve O. Murphy, Fort Bliss Garrison commander. “Hence, the mobilization brigade‘s impact isn’t localized here to Fort Bliss, but across all theaters of conflict to where we deploy our RC Forces.”

The 210th RSG of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, mobilized a year during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which decimated the island, but the unit still succeeded in the face of adversity.

“Simply put, and unequivocally, the 210th RSG excelled in their role as the Fort Bliss Mobilization Brigade since their assumption of authority last May,” said Murphy.

The 653rd RSG of Mesa, AZ, assumes control of a mission that serves as force generator throughout the force around the world. And while the mobilization for the 653rd RSG is a stateside deployment, the mission is just as critical.

“We know the bottom line is taking care of the sons and daughters of this nation and ensuring the combatant commanders get their capabilities on time,” said Col. Chandra Roberts, 653rd RSG commander. “We know we’ve got to be flexible, we’ve got to be adaptive and anticipate things.”
Just as the many Reserve component units and Soldiers who mobilized in support of the mission here, each unit’s approach to the mission is typically the same.

“We executed every mission like we were going to fight,” said Col. Javier Rivera, 210th RSG commander. “My admiration to all the NCOs (non-commissioned officers) and Soldiers who executed their mission to perfection.”

The 210th RSG will redeploy to Puerto Rico near the end of the month.  The transfer was held on April 15, 2019.

Author:  Capt. Joselyn Sydnor  – 653rd Regional Support Group

Dakota Family ‘Leads the Way’ as Staff Sgt. Earns Ranger Tab

“Rangers Lead the Way!” The U.S. Army Ranger motto symbolizes its unique mission set; the ability to deploy forces within 18 hours of notification.

One of the requirements to be an Army Ranger is to complete the grueling 61-day Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia. This arduous task requires training and support from loved ones.

Staff Sgt. Austin Forby, cavalry scout, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment “Dakota,” 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division (Rotational), graduated from Ranger Class 04-19 at Fort Benning, Georgia, April 5. His wife, Emily, and son, Kason, were there to see him earn the highly-coveted Ranger Tab.

“Without a strong family support network I would have never made it through Ranger School,” said Forby. “The letters I received from my family and friends really helped push me through the hard times.”

The Forby family comes from the small town of Benton, Illinois, which continued to support them throughout Cole’s military service and multiple deployments.

“I, along with different family members and community members at home wrote him over 100 letters,” said Emily Forby, who is also the family readiness group leader for Troop A, 2-13th Cav. Regt. “We come from a small town that really supports Cole in everything he does.”

Cole is preparing to join the rest of 2-13th Cav. Regt. forward in the Republic of Korea assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division in the coming weeks.

Emily and Kason will continue to support their troop as he goes forward along with the rest of his support network from back home, who kept him going through Ranger School.

“After I made some posts on Facebook about Austin being at Ranger School, I had lots of people ask for his address so they could write him,” she said. “Our hometown is amazing with support.”

Graduates and cadre members of Ranger School Class 04-19 gather for a class photo at Fort Benning, Georgia, April 5, 2019. Ranger School is a 61-day combat leadership school designed to test the physical and mental toughness of Soldiers who volunteered to join the elite ranks of U.S. Army Rangers or who have desired to master the fundamentals of small-unit tactics. (U.S. Army photo courtesy of Emily Forby)

Author: Maj. Anthony Clas  – 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs 

Local U.S. Army Reservists head to the field for battle assembly

DONA ANA, N.M. – The U.S. Army Reserve 383rd Quartermaster Battalion, headquartered in El Paso, conducted a readiness focused field training exercise last weekend, April 4 – 7, 2019.

Time is always a challenge for the Army Reserve as traditional drilling Soldiers only conduct their military duties one weekend a month with fourteen to twenty nine additional training days to use sometime during the fiscal year. Field training exercises like this one allow units to maximize their training time, focusing on tasks and drills that build capability and increase their combat-readiness.

Lt. Col Marc Braswell is the commander of the 383rd QM BN. He said he planned this four-day FTX to get Soldiers out of the classroom and into a realistic training environment.

“Soldiers need training on basic soldier skills so they have to get out of the reserve center,” said Braswell. “We have to get out of the classrooms and get into the field environment where we can have real combat training.”

When Braswell took command a year ago, he saw a missed opportunity in the way the unit trained. He reorganized his weekend battle assemblies to allow the unit to go into a field environment every quarter.

“No one joins the army to sit in a classroom, Soldiers want to get out and train,” said Braswell. “When I took command, I told the Soldiers, if you every feel like I’m wasting your time, and not giving you realistic training, you need to tell me. That’s the promise I made.”

The transition hasn’t been completely smooth, but that’s what Braswell expected, it’s what he wanted. He says that he wants his unit to hit bumps and work them out in training so they are ready and experienced if they are called upon for deployment.

“Bottom line is, we are going to make this happen,” said Braswell. “Whatever hiccups we have, whatever problems we encounter, those are natural parts of the growing process, so I expect friction but we are pushing through it.”

1st Sgt. Anthony Rogers, with the 356th Transportation Company, part of the 383rd QM BN, said he had challenges to overcome to get his Soldiers to the FTX. As a new Ready-Force unit, they are still being filled with equipment and only had five vehicles, not nearly enough to carry all their Soldiers to the field.

“We will overcome it by pure will and ingenuity,” laughed Rogers. “Our higher command knows the challenge, and we are working it, but the mission doesn’t stop.”

Rogers and the 356th’s brand new commander, Capt. Zachary Wise, coordinated with other units in the BN for transportation support. That’s exactly the kind of solutions Braswell expects his leaders to come up with.

“It comes down to a paradigm shift,” said Braswell, “I am helping people understand that this is what we are going to do now and this is a different experience than they’ve had the past four years.”

Another challenge came once the communications team arrived at the training site. They set up two OE-254 communication antennas and the command post’s communication kit, then immediately ran into a problem with power.

“Right now we are trying to get another generator so we can run on our own,” said Spc. Demetrus Jacobs, a signal support specialist with the 383rd QM BN. “When we go to the field, we put out heads together to make sure we have everything we need and make it work.”

Jacobs prefers field training to sitting in a classroom. He recognizes the value it brings to him and his fellow Soldiers. He says it’s important because his unit has to be ready to mobilize and deploy if they are needed.

“I think hands on is always more valuable,” said Jacobs. “You get more out of it than sitting in a class.”

Braswell feels very positive about these FTXs. Soldiers are practicing their skills, morale is going up and the units are overcoming challenges. Most importantly, the BN’s combat-readiness is improving.

“If we don’t get the Soldiers out here to train on these tasks we are really cheating them,” said Braswell. “We have to stick with it and move forward because just getting the BN out here and working the process is a win.”

Soldiers from the US Army Reserve 383rd Quartermaster Battalion set up lighting equipment in their tactical operation center during a field training exercise in Dona Ana, New Mexico, on April 4, 2019. Field training exercises allow Army Reserve units to maximize their training time, focusing on tasks and drills that build capability and increase their combat-readiness. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Maj. Brandon R. Mace)
Soldiers from the US Army Reserve 383rd Quartermaster Battalion settle into their sleeping tents during a field training exercise in Dona Ana, New Mexico, on April 4, 2019. Field training exercises allow Army Reserve units to maximize their training time, focusing on tasks and drills that build capability and increase their combat-readiness. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Maj. Brandon R. Mace)

Author: Maj. Brandon Mace  – 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

Fort Bliss’ 2nd ABCT Strengthening U.S., Polish alliance one exercise at a time

DRAWSKO POMORSKIE, Poland – Spectators watch closely as U.S. and Polish tanks crawl over the hill in a tactical formation before firing, sending shock waves across the training area as the artillery rounds hit the impact area.

Mariusz Blaszczak, the Polish Minister of National Defense, and Col. Patrick Michaelis, the commander of the Mission Command Element in Poznan, Poland, are among the crowd observing a multinational maneuvering demonstration in Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland.

“Today’s training could have only happened with the close coordination between our two nations,” said Michaelis. “It shows the strength of the alliance and our friendship.”

The demonstration featured Soldiers from 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas, and Polish Soldiers with the 12th Mechanized Brigade, 12th Mechanized Division out of Szczecin, Poland participating in a live-fire exercise and a static display of Polish and American armored military vehicles.

The 1st Armored Division Soldiers deployed to Europe at the direction of the Secretary of Defense to exercise the U.S. Army’s ability to rapidly alert, recall and deploy under emergency conditions.

“What we have just witnessed was the exercise between the Polish Armed forces and U.S. troops in Drawsko Pomorskie,” said Blaszczak. “This is very important because it shows this was an allied training within the North Atlantic Alliance. The commander of this exercise [Col. Chad Chalfont, commander of 2ABCT] approached me and said this exercise is not organized because the Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Poland visited this training arrangement, this is daily training being conducted in Drawsko Pomorskie.”

This exercise highlighted the U.S. and Polish strong partnership, cooperation, and U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance by working closely with each other.

“I have to say that the 12th Brigade is very proud to be a part of this training. Because of the unique training opportunity, we were able to use U.S. military equipment and understand their operational functions,” said Col. Slawomir Dudczak, the commander of the 12th Mechanized Division out of Szczecin, Poland. “We really gained a new experience. I’m very happy that my sub-units will be able to participate in the training for the next seven days to implement new strategies that we have learned over this exercise.”

The Soldiers work together, shoulder to shoulder, to integrate and build stronger relations for future joint exercises.

“Today, three days before the 70th Anniversary of NATO, an alliance we are all committed to, we are well represented by Polish and the U.S. Soldiers that you see,” said Michaelis.

“As they sharpen the art and science of putting steel on target, it is a clear expression of combined strength, interoperability and determination. Today’s demonstration of the dynamic enforcement of U.S. forces across oceans, across continents without warning and without notice, serves as a demonstration of our capacity, of our mutual commitment, and our mutual resolve…it’s an Atlantic Resolve.”

Author: Spc. Christina Westover  – 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element

School Days: Fort Bliss NCO earns coveted spot in prestigious academic program

There’s an incomparable force of energy that always travels right alongside this dedicated Soldier as she readily takes on new challenges and excels during her assigned missions.

It’s a passion heard in her voice and an intrigue seen in her eyes. These positive vibes define her as she continues to raise the bar and motivate other service members to follow her lead.

Her energetic passion is what led Staff Sgt. Felicia Jagdatt, who serves as the public affairs non-commissioned officer in charge for the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, to earn a coveted seat in the Military Visual Journalism Program at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.

This 10-month curriculum focuses on teaching its students to become better storytellers taking courses in communications, photo and digital journalism, photography, design, sound and documentary production. Upon completion, students will earn 30 credits of college coursework.

Jagdatt competed among her peers for one of only four Army slots awarded to public affairs professionals. She will begin her course of study this summer, and said she is looking forward to starting this new chapter in her career.

“I was so excited, and at first I couldn’t believe it,” she said, “It took a while for me to absorb everything, then I ran to tell my commander and called my family members.”

The 28-year-old expressed that she is not only hoping that this experience will enhance her storytelling abilities to tell the U.S. Army’s story in our society’s ever-changing information environment, but it will also help her become a better leader to mentor her future Soldiers.

“Our future is information-and a big part of every war is information skills,” said the New York native. “I want to become a better mentor and teacher to our Soldiers. Any person that has a skill-and then develops that skill-becomes an asset to the entire Army.”

This fast-paced noncommissioned officer is no stranger to hard work. She monitors her career progression and personal goals through detailed Excel spreadsheets. She said these reminders keep her career path goals on track and within reach.

“I use these spreadsheets daily to stay challenged and competitive. These stats help track where I should be at this point of my career. It puts my ‘Why’ into perspective and keeps me moving,” she said.

So how else does this seven-year Army veteran stay motivated? By telling the Soldier’s story!

As a military public affairs professional, she says that taking photos, producing videos and writing stories is her passion, as well as getting to know each Soldier and bringing their story to light.

Although she has already earned her Master’s degree in Policy and Government, Jagdatt said she ‘loves the idea of going back to school’ and is ready to take on her new role as a communication and journalism student.

“This new experience gives me a chance to indulge with my peers from all of the branches of service, share my perspective, and learn from theirs,” she said “I want to absorb all the pockets of the military. This will help me experience the moving and diverse pieces of this puzzle that makes us so powerful.”

The Newhouse School’s Military Visual Journalism program has four competitive slots throughout each of the Armed Services including the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. The goal is to cross train each student, take them out of their comfort zone and bring their storytelling skills to an advanced level to share with other service members and better communicate the military’s story with the American people.

One of the key pieces leading to Jagdatt being considered for the program was her strong application, which included a firm print and video portfolio, as well as letters of recommendation from senior leadership. She has been recognized by the El Paso community as well as Army leaders assigned to Fort Bliss.

Capt. Lindsay Roman, the public affairs officer for the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, described Jagdatt as hardworking and professional. Roman said that although has only worked with Jagdatt for less than a year, she has seen this NCO grow. “She always keeps herself one step ahead and brings her ‘A game’ to the table every day.”

Jagadatt’s key mentor throughout the application process was Master Sgt. Alex Licea, assigned as the NCOIC for the 1st Armored Division’s Public Affairs office. Licea said her passion, motivation and great personality emulate what every leader looks for in a Soldier and NCO.

“She’s a self- motivated, positive force who is consistently growing and learning,” said Licea. “Jagdatt is not afraid to ask for advice and guidance, and she is always looking to challenge herself. I know she will continue to grow within the public affairs career field and our Army.”

Throughout his 17 years in the Army, Licea noted that he has trained Soldiers across the globe, and Jagdatt stands out as being one of the best Soldiers and junior NCOs he has ever mentored; demonstrating all of the attributes to become a future leader.

“I know that she will move forward and this broadening opportunity can elevate her to the next level. She is meant to be a future leader and is completely dedicated to telling the Army and the Soldier story,” said Licea. “If she continues on this path, without a doubt, she is a future sergeant major.”

Author: Stephanie Santos – 1st Armored Division

Trump’s emergency declaration could mean Texas’ military installations lose millions for future projects

Texas’ largest military bases could lose tens of millions of dollars already earmarked for future projects if President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to build a border barrier withstands legal challenges and the administration diverts money from the military for wall construction.

The bases include U.S. Army and Air Force installations at Joint Base San Antonio, Army installations at Fort Bliss in El Paso and Fort Hood in Killeen, and the Naval Reserve center in Galveston, according to the office of U.S. Rep Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo.

In all, about $265 million for construction and other projects on military bases in Texas could be diverted to build walls on the southern border, according to a list of potential projects the Department of Defense released to lawmakers Monday.

The president signed his emergency declaration after a five-week government shutdown spurred when Congress refused to approve $5.7 billion that Trump requested for border barriers. The president issued a national emergency declaration last month that would divert billions in defense spending to construct the barriers. The U.S. House and Senate voted recently to oppose the declaration, but the president vetoed the measure.

“After failing to convince the Government of Mexico or U.S. Congress to pay for his ineffective wall, the President is trying to bypass constitutional authority and undermine the training, readiness, and quality of life of our military and their families in Texas,” Cuellar said in a written statement.

Joint Base San Antonio could lose about $10 million for an air traffic control tower, $10 million for an aerospace operations facility, $38 million for a military training classroom and dining hall, and more than $13 million for a vehicle maintenance shop. Fort Bliss could lose $20 million for defense access roads, more than $8 million for a blood processing center and $24 million for supply support.

At least seven lawsuits have been filed to halt any wall construction under the emergency declaration, including litigation filed by El Paso County and the Laredo-based Rio Grande International Study Center.

“It’s clear that @realDonaldTrump’s political stunt only hurts our troops and endangers our national security. This must end!” U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D- El Paso, tweeted Monday after learning about the potential cuts.

It’s not clear which projects will be chosen or when that decision will be made. The Department of Defense noted that construction projects already awarded and other projects awarded during the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, won’t be affected. If money for a border wall is included in the next federal budget, none of the projects listed will be affected, the fact sheet states.

The Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Cuellar’s statements.

Author: JULIÁN AGUILARThe Texas Tribune

Gallery+Story: Final Air Assault Class graduates at Fort Bliss

Ten days of building mental and physical endurance. Ten days of concentration and commitment.

Ten days of rigorous training that began with 271 Service Members on Day 0 and ended with a total of 160 graduates who earned the coveted Air Assault wings March 11 during a graduation ceremony for the Air Assault Course at the 1st Armored Division Parade Field.

The course brings a series of challenges: Attention to layout detail, hands-on and written exams, rappelling, a full obstacle course, and timed sling-load inspections. Leading up to the morning of graduation, students could not celebrate their success until they each completed a rigorous 12-mile foot march with a 35-pound ruck in less than three hours.

“We push each Soldier physically and mentally. They learn the importance of detail. There is no rank here…a Pvt. can help a Sgt. 1st Class and a Spc. can help a Capt.,” said Air Assault Instructor Sgt. Clinton Sargent. “The focus is never on rank, but on what each service member can do to help each other.”

The course stressed maintaining standards and discipline at all times. Students agreed that Day 0 allowed no room for error, and one layout mistake could get them sent back to their unit.

Even after 21 years in the Army, Command Sgt. Maj. Jose Palomino assigned to 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, said the course was intimidating, but he had to meet the promise that he made to his fellow Soldiers.

“I have to lead by example. I’m doing this for my Soldiers and yes, it’s scary to be the oldest person here,”said the 42-year-old leader.

Palomino felt that the air assault training built confidence and the class became closer while learning how to work together. He noted that every student was held accountable, and there was no chance to redo something that was incorrect.

“As leaders, we are never done with training, and we can’t sit in our comfort zone,” he said. “This course taught us to remember the basics and what it is to be a Soldier, remain resilient and never quit. I put myself through this to show that it is never too late to develop yourself.”

After rapelling from the 34-foot tower, Pfc. Lillyanna Puig assigned to the 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, said a lot of her motivation came from proving to herself that she could push herself to the next level. Puig was one of four female service members to graduate from the course.

“A lot of times as females in the Army we put ourselves in a gender box, but we are all Soldiers. We have to stay motivated,” she said. “I want to achieve as much as possible in my Army career.”

Instructors concurred that although the course is a physical shock, its benefits prepare Soldiers to better train their forces, build more confidence and be an example to their peers.

Building ‘esprit de corps’ is how Air Assault Course Chief Sgt. 1st Class Mitchell Levart defined the intense instruction. He stressed that the school opens new doors for all military personnel, and can serve as a basis for career progression.

“It’s always been my dream to run an air assault school, he said “I feel like I am doing something that they will always remember.”

In response to Class 004-19 being the last class to graduate from Fort Bliss, Staff Sgt. Matthew Heckman explained that the class values and new strengths developed will still travel with each person regardless of where they are stationed in the future.

“It’s rewarding to know that we have affected these graduates in a positive way and knowing they will make a difference,” said Heckman, who was named instructor of the cycle. “Even though the class here has ended, the Air Assault Course legacy will continue to live on.”

Author & Photographer:  Stephanie Santos  – 1st Armored Division

2019 Army Trials at Fort Bliss: Games Give Soldiers, Veterans More Than Competition

Over 80 wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans came to Fort Bliss to compete for a spot on Team Army for this year’s 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

After 10 days of intense competition in 14 different sports, the 2019 Army Trials is coming to a close.

Returning Army Trials athletes like Staff Sgt. Samuel Daniels, who was also a 2018 Team Army member, are making the most of their second Army Trials, while also mentoring first-time participants.

“I’m one of the big dogs now, whereas last year we were the trainees,” Daniels said. “I was here last year so I knew what to expect, but I also did two new sports (archery and shooting) so I could identify with that ‘new’ feeling this year too. I’m excited and nervous and I hope I (make Team Army) again.”

Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Beth King participated in her first Army Trials this year and was humbled by the opportunity.

“It is truly an honor to be [at Army Trials]. When you have an injury that changes your abilities it is easy to lose yourself in the diagnosis and in the list of things you can no longer do,” said King.

While Army Trials is a competition, with a chance to go to Warrior Games on the line, behind the scenes it’s an opportunity, particularly for veterans, to be around others with similar injuries and in similar situations, something they may not have readily available where they live.

“As a veteran, it’s easy to feel invisible or even forgotten. I came here only knowing one other person and believing that cycling was all I was really good at. Being here I’ve found new allies, people who see me and want me to succeed at more than just my specialized event,” King said.

Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Olson, another first-time participant, also enjoyed the opportunity to compete at Army Trials and be around other wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. “Watching people overcome whatever (injury or illness) they have to overcome every day and come out here and compete the way we are is amazing,” Olson said. “It’s motivating and inspiring and being around others facing similar challenges is great for me.”

Now that the Army Trials competition has come to an end, its participants will head home and wait to hear if they will be one of 40 athletes selected to represent Team Army at the DoD Warrior Games at Tampa. Those who are not selected for Team Army this year may try again next year, something Daniels encourages them to do for one simple reason: family.

“Being at Army Trials is like a family reunion. We all keep in touch and motivate and support each other, not just with adaptive sports, but in life too,” said Daniels. “It’s great to be able to see everyone in person and that alone is worth the trip.”

Author: Christopher Fields – U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition

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