Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: November, 2011 (27) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 27

November 4, 2011 at 6:46am

Sacrifice part of Soldiers’ daily routine

Pvt. Jessie Nelson, an all source analyst with HHC, 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. Raiders, speaks to her stepson on the phone Oct. 21, at brigade headquarters at YTC. Even though she's away at training, Nelson still shows her family she cares by calling every d

YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER - Sergeant Matthew McCrea has a switch. It turns on the moment he puts on his combat gear.

He goes from being a Family man who cares for his wife and children to a squad leader who takes care of his Soldiers on the battlefield.

So as he conducted a live-fire with his unit, C Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, Oct. 19 at Yakima Training Center, it didn't dawn on him to call home for his son's birthday until the mission was completed. He had set a reminder on his cellular phone; however, the phone was on ‘silent' so as not to disrupt training. Many servicemembers endure the same sacrifice McCrea and his Family make every day whether they're gone due to deployments or training.

Special events are missed, including birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings. For McCrea, this wasn't the first birthday missed.

A Red Cross message he received while deployed to Iraq from 2007 to 2008 informed him his wife was in labor. Still, he missed the birth of his son by nearly six days.

Once the unit redeployed he was able to witness one of the few birthday celebrations for his now 4-year-old son.

"I got to see him blow out his one candle," remembered McCrea.

Luckily, his Family is understanding and supportive, so much so that he considers himself "blessed." It's his and his wife Amy's spirituality, he said, that has helped them get through two deployments without an argument. Still, he admits that at times, being away from his Family is hard to take.

"Days are filled with (stress and training), but the nights when you're trying to get your couple hours of sleep ... you start thinking about it and thinking, ‘Wow, I could have a 9-to-5 job and be a civilian and be there for everything,'" said McCrea. "But at the same time, everyone has to sacrifice something."

He doesn't consider the sacrifices he makes as putting work before his Family. For him, it's a different responsibility.

"I put my nation first, and I do what I can for my nation," said McCrea. "It's pretty much one of those things where you take the good with the bad."

Another Soldier in 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division "Raiders," Pvt. Jessie Nelson, is missing her one-year wedding anniversary while training at YTC for the month. Nelson was married last October and left for basic combat training the following month.

"We haven't really been able to experience the newlywed phase yet at all," she said.

Though distance can be tough on a newly-married couple, Nelson and her spouse see it as an opportunity to value the time they do have together.

"The only thing that changed is the time that we do spend together is a lot more intense," said Nelson. "It really has made us appreciate each other a lot more."

Instead of never celebrating special events, Nelson and her Family celebrate even more on the holidays they are together.

"October 22 is just the date that we were married," she said. "I think my birthday (in December) is more the time we celebrate."

The all-source analyst with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div., saw her husband a few times before graduating advanced individual training and reporting to her new duty station at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Now she's at YTC for a month.

Spending so much time away not only from her husband, but her stepchildren, hasn't been easy.

"I think with being freshly married into an already-established Family, I missed out on a lot of the bonding that comes with stepkids," said Nelson.

Even though she's away at training, she still shows them she cares by calling every day and sending her stepchildren gifts, like flowers for her 4-year-old stepdaughter.

"I just try to do extra things while I'm gone, so they know that I'm still thinking about them," she said.

While a 20-year career in the military isn't in Nelson's future, enlisting was simply following family tradition, she explained.Her father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served in the military.

"I don't regret walking in (my father's) footsteps," Nelson said. "The entire military experience has shown me a lot about myself."

As Exercise Raider Fusion continues, McCrea, Nelson and other Soldiers separated from their Families take such sacrifices in stride, understanding that tough training now will make future deployments easier to endure.

November 4, 2011 at 7:14am

‘The Cup’ returns to JBLM after year on shelf

After a year-long hiatus, the Commander's Cup is back in play.

The Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate presents the trophy annually to a Joint Base Lewis-McChord unit that accumulates the most points during the intramural sports year. Once flag football and wrestling finish up this month, final points will be tallied and a winner will be announced. No trophy was awarded last year due to a transition in the FMWR staff, but this year's trophy will be awarded in December.

Points are counted in basketball, bowling, swimming, soccer, cross country, volleyball, softball, golf, triathlon, flag football, power lifting, wrestling and the Sound to Narrows run. During league play four points are awarded to first place, three points to second, two points to third and one point for participation. Points are also earned for team placement in league standings or championship tournaments.

In the case of a tie, the unit that earns the most first, second and third place finishes in that order is declared the winner.

"It tries to facilitate and draw in more team participation for the units and promotes their unit cohesion," said JBLM Intramural Sports Coordinator Kathy Salcedo.

One of the purposes of having the Commander's Cup is to assist in developing and maintaining a high state of mental and physical well-being among military personnel and to enhance readiness. It is much of the same reason why the 593rd Sustainment Brigade is so involved in intramurals.

Brigade Soldiers are continuously deploying and redeploying with Soldiers currently in four countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Qatar.

"With the sports it's a great way to build esprit de corps, bringing them together," Lt. Col. Doug Levien said. "It's also a good stress release for the Soldiers and a way to deal with 10 years of war and constant deployments and constantly being away from your home."

The 593rd Sust. Bde. competes in just about every intramural sport and special event offered and is one of the four leading units in the 2011 Commander's Cup standings. Also in the top four are the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, 627th Civil Engineering Squadron and the 38th Engineer Company. But the standings could change drastically once flag football and wrestling points are figured in.

The 593rd Sust. Bde. won the Sound to Narrows run and finished high in several sports. Winning the Commander's Cup would be a significant achievement for the unit.

"Any time you come in first that would be a great honor for the Soldiers and the unit," Levien said. "It's not an achievement for one sport over a short period of time, it's over nine or 10 different sporting events."

While this year's Commander's Cup season began with basketball and ends with wrestling, it will look different next year.

Only five core sports will earn points toward the Commander's Cup: basketball, volleyball, soccer, flag football and softball. The 2012 season will begin with basketball and end with flag football.

The trophy is rotated each year. A unit that wins the cup three consecutive years retains its own permanent trophy and another becomes the prize.

November 4, 2011 at 7:15am

ACOE waives fees to honor veterans

In honor of Veterans Day, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it will waive "day-use" fees for veterans, active and reserve component servicemembers, and their Families on Veteran's Day at all district recreation areas, as well as the more than 2,400 USACE-operated recreation areas nationwide.

USACE's Northwestern Division covers the entire states of Washington and Montana, as well as most of Oregon and Idaho, and extends across the Plains States as far as Missouri. In the Pacific Northwest, USACE has more than a dozen sites which will offer Veterans Day waivers this year.

Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, said whether it's in the Northwest or nationwide, she encourages current and veteran troops to allow USACE to give back to those who gave or continue to give of themselves every day.

"More than 350 million visitors a year enjoy the outdoors at Army Corps of Engineers' recreation projects," Darcy said. "This Veterans Day we will continue the valued tradition of honoring our veterans, active and reserve servicemembers, and their Families with an invitation to visit one of the thousands of USACE recreation sites throughout the country, free of charge. As the Corps is an active member of this administration's America's Great Outdoors initiative, we hope that you will join us."

USACE said verbal confirmation of eligibility will be all that's needed for a waiver which will cover boat launch ramp and swim beach fees. It won't apply to "camping and camping-related services" or "fees for specialized facilities such as group picnic shelters." They also specify that other government agencies do manage facilities on USACE land, and while they're encouraged to also offer this waiver, it's not required.

To learn more To discover the USACE recreation areas nearest you, please visit

November 5, 2011 at 7:39am


Finding a job in the current dismal economy can be nearly impossible, even for those who are educated, trained, qualified and experienced. For military spouses, many of whom relocate every few years and might have difficulty maintaining career continuity, finding work can be even more challenging. But the Heroes at Home 2 program, which launched last month at the Stone Education Center, is seeking to assist spouses stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord with training, tuition, career counseling and job placement.

The program, made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to the Washington State Employment Security Department and overseen locally by WorkForce Central and the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, is funded to support 825 military spouses who lost their jobs in order to accompany a Servicemember on a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move or Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) dislocation to JBLM.

The creation of three Stryker Brigade Combat Teams over the past eight years, along with the effects of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, has led to a 65-percent increase in the active-duty service member population since 2003.

There are currently more than 41,000 Servicemembers (and 53,000 family members) assigned to JBLM, said John Norgren, legislative liaison and community relations representative at the JBLM Public Affairs Office.

And many of those spouses - whether they have been working part or full time, with or without a college degree - need help finding a job.

There are local jobs available, said Linda Nguyen, chief executive officer of WorkForce Central, but matching the right company to the right employee is not always simple.

"People just aren't able to find each other easily," she said. "Our job is to provide training and job placement."

To be eligible for Heroes at Home 2 assistance, spouses must meet the following criteria:

  • Must have dislocated from a job (either full or part-time, career or survival) due to a PCS move or BRAC-related reassignment since 2005
  • Servicemember must be assigned to JBLM
  • Servicemember must be active duty or Title 10 (activated) member of the National Guard or Reserve

For qualified applicants, the program provides funds for tuition, certification fees, lab fees, books and even support services such as short-term child care, transportation costs and rent. Eligible applicants can even receive vouchers for appropriate work clothes, uniforms and equipment.

Heroes at Home 2 is not just for those spouses who need assistance with education or specialized training - those who already have a degree can benefit as well.

For instance, the program can assist with resume building, interview skills refreshment and even provide funds for training in a new, high-demand career field, if the spouses' current skills are no longer in demand.

Spouses who aren't quite sure if they need any of the available services should still apply, Nguyen said.

"Just get in and get verified," she said, "even if you think you don't need it yet."

To apply for the program, call (253) 966-7366 or (360) 570-4271 or stop by the Stone Education Center in building 6242 on JBLM Main and set up an appointment.

Applicants will meet with one of the program's career coaches, who will verify eligibility, then complete an employment assessment and set up an action plan.  

"They'll assess your needs and ramp them up for the end goal," Nguyen said, "employment."

For more information, visit

Filed under: Get A Job Blog,

November 6, 2011 at 6:52am

Program helps families of Wounded, Fallen Start Businesses

Later this month, a group of 17 family members who care for wounded warriors, as well as surviving spouses of fallen service members, will gather at Syracuse University in New York to learn how to start and run their own businesses.

Syracuse's Whitman School of Management will host its second Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans' Families smack in the middle of Military Family Appreciation Month.

The program is a spin-off to a similar program Syracuse and six other universities offer for disabled veterans.

Participants -- family caregivers of post-9/11 veterans with a service-connected disability or surviving spouses or adult children of service members who died since 9/11 as a consequence of military service -- will attend the program at no charge, officials said. Syracuse University and its donors will pick up the cost of tuition as well as transportation, lodging and meals.

The goal, explained Tina Kapral, the school's director of education programs, is to help family members whose lives have been turned upside down by loss or a loved one's disability get back on their feet and provide for themselves and their families.

For many, entrepreneurship may be the perfect solution, she said. It offers the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career while maintaining the flexibility they may need to work around their loved ones' medical appointments and other care-giving responsibilities.

"Our goal is to allow these family members to find a financial path forward and some financial stability for themselves and their families," Kapral said.

As an additional benefit, the boot camp brings together people who understand each other's challenges and provide support. "Our program allows networking and relationship-building and a built-in support group when you are with other people who are in the same situation as yourself," she said.

Participants in the upcoming boot camp actually began the program in October with a full month of online coursework, Kapral explained. They will arrive at Syracuse on Nov. 13 to begin the second phase of the program, an intensive week-long residency course focuses on small-business management. Classes frequently run from 7 a.m. to as late at 10 p.m., all aimed at providing students the best possible foundation to succeed when they return home.

"The whole purpose of all the classes is that at the end, [participants] are writing their own business plan and doing their final venture pitches to experts and faculty for the business they want to kick off," Kapral said.

In many cases, the boot camp experience helps family members identify the kind of business best suited to their interests and needs and refine their ideas and goals, she said.

The businesses they go on to launch run the gamut, she said. During the first family boot camp last year, participants drew up plans to open a bridal boutique, a language translation service, a framing shop, a pottery and glasswork business and a caf�. One planned to work as a consultant, educating other families of veterans about services and benefits available to them and how to apply.

After completing the boot camp, residents receive ongoing support and technical assistance from a team of faculty members, experienced entrepreneurs and other experts to ensure they're positioned to realize their entrepreneurial goals, Kapral said.

Florida State University, one of seven universities that sponsor the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, soon will launch a second program for family members. Seats are still available for that program, which will run Feb. 22 to March 1 at FSU's extension campus in Panama City, Fla.

Randy Blass, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who serves as director for the FSU program, said he welcomes the opportunity to expand the school's support for disabled veterans and their families.

"This program gives caregivers of the men and women who served our country an opportunity to secure their financial future," he said.

Although Syracuse and FSU offer the only entrepreneurship programs for veterans' families, they are part of a consortium of seven schools with entrepreneurship boot camps for qualified disabled veterans. Those programs are available at the University of California, Los Angeles; Texas A&M University; Purdue University; the University of Connecticut; and Louisiana State University.

Details about both the disabled veterans and family member programs and how to apply are posted at with links to participating universities' websites.

*Related Sites:*

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans' Families [ ]

*Related Articles:*

Program Helps Disabled Vets Become Entrepreneurs  [ ]

Filed under: Your Biz ... A Blog,

November 6, 2011 at 6:58am

TV special to honor Veterans, Military Families

A Veterans Day TV special will celebrate service members and veterans and spotlight the issues they face as they leave the military and re-enter their communities and the workforce.

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 'Rise and Honor' A Veterans Day Special" will air Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. The show teamed up with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Hollywood's leading charity, to present the one-hour special, a news release said.

The reality show undertakes massive home renovations for families in need with the help of a builder and a host of volunteers. This season's premiere featured Barbara Marshall, a 15-year Navy veteran who has devoted her life to helping homeless female veterans.

"In 200 episodes, we've seen thousands of armed forces volunteers to help us rebuild homes and lives," said Brady Connell, the show's executive producer. "Now we're thrilled to be able to honor all veterans with this television special."

The special will feature host Ty Pennington as he revisits past episodes with some of the show's most memorable military stories. The "Extreme Makeover" crew also will visit with some of the families featured in those episodes to find out how they've been faring since their home makeover and how they're continuing to aid their fellow veterans.

Throughout the show, celebrities will spotlight the issues veterans face after service, and the strengths and skills they bring to the workforce and their communities, the release said. Celebrities include Whoopi Goldberg, Jewel, George Lopez, J.R. Martinez, Rachael Ray, Sherri Shepherd, Robin Williams and Major League Baseball players Daniel Murphy of the Mets, Shane Victorino of the Phillies and Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox.

Additionally, the Entertainment Industry Foundation will launch its "Rise and Honor" program during the special. The program raises funds to support reintegration services for veterans and their families, benefiting organizations such as the Fisher House Foundation, Hire Heroes USA, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, USO, Volunteers of America and Welcome Back Veterans. These organizations offer veterans and their families services and support such as housing, job placement, health care, rehabilitation and mental health treatment.

"We've highlighted the difficult struggles our veterans often face when returning home," George Verschoor, executive producer, said. "We are so proud to take this a step further with a moving tribute to our nation's heroes, while inspiring Americans to give back to those who've given our country so much."

The special will culminate with an event featuring an audience of active-duty service members and veterans, along with a live musical performance by Jewel, who also will co-host the special.

In the news release, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis cited the importance of efforts such as this one that shine a light on veterans' issues as they transition from military to civilian life.

"All across the country, we have talented and dedicated veterans who have been unemployed for far too long," she said. "These service men and women are right here and ready to get back to work. They just need a little help from all of us to find a good job at a fair wage and successfully transition from military to civilian life.

"We applaud ABC and the Entertainment Industry Foundation for broadcasting this special show to raise awareness of the needs of our returning veterans and their families," she added.

*Related Sites:*

Rise and Honor  [ ]

Entertainment Industry Foundation  [ ]

*Related Articles:*

First Lady Joins Navy Veteran on 'Extreme Makeover'  [ ]

November 7, 2011 at 6:42am

New dining facility gives Soldiers more options

Pfc. Terra Nassif, right, serves a plate as Spc. Yvonne Sibble readies a plate during the Canon & Castle Grill's grand opening Oct. 25, 2011 at JBLM./Jim Bryant

There's an old saying, "when one door closes, another one opens," and in the case of two brigades here on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, those words were proven true and eagerly welcomed.

The 17th Fires and 555th Engineer brigades celebrated the grand opening of Cannon and Castle Grill Oct. 25 with a pre-lunch ceremony and special menu.

The new dining facility opened as the result of units moving and deploying. The 17th Fires Bde. DFAC closed its doors Oct. 1 after the unit relocated from Lewis Main to Lewis North. Prior to Cannon and Castle Grill, Soldiers from 555th Engr. Bde. shared a DFAC with 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Colonel Michael Brobeck, 555th Engr. Bde. commander, said the DFAC's opening was important and a sign of moving forward.

"With the upcoming deployment of (2nd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div.) and the subsequent closer of their DFAC and relocation of 17th Fires Bde., we owed it to our Soldiers to offer them a world-class dining facility," Brobeck said. "It was also important to keep our food service team gainfully employed and promote pride in the service of their job."

Soldiers worked tirelessly to ensure successful closure of the two dining facilities and opening the newest one. During opening ceremony remarks, Brobeck thanked everyone who was involved, and gave special recognition to six key Soldiers - one of whom single-handedly ensured all food items were inventoried, accounted for and later transferred over $35,000 worth of food to other dining facilities with zero loss of accountability.

Judging by the line wrapped around the Castle and Cannon Grill's doors and the aesthetically pleasing atmosphere inside, everyone's hard work paid off.

With a main line, short order, expanded sandwich bar, salad bar and rotating self-serve bar, diners have a wider array of food to choose from. The self-serve bar changes daily, and depending on when you go, serves tacos, chicken wings, pasta and other foods.

A separate "Grab and Go" line offers pre-prepared food such as pizza, burgers and corndogs.

"This is really designed for somebody who's in a hurry," said Sgt. Jeremiah Vanblaricom, administrative NCO with 17th Fires Bde.

During breakfast, the line offers grab-and-go sandwiches, burritos, granola bars and other breakfast items. Vanblaricom, who works and eats at the Castle and Cannon Grill, said the biggest difference between the new and old DFACs is size.

"There's five times more storage here, which allows for more food to be stored," he said. "Now we can offer more of a variety."

Castle and Cannon Grill manager, Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Vaughn, said one of the first things guests will notice is the atmosphere. One side of the dining facility has a sports theme while the other is unit décor. There are six TVs broadcasting sports and news, free Wi-Fi and an open invitation to watch football courtesy of the NFL sports package.

"We won't kick anybody out if they want to come relax and watch the game on Sundays," Vaughn said.

Brobeck anticipates the dining facility will have a significant positive impact on Soldiers living and working on Lewis North.

"Soldiers have the option of avoiding the heavy traffic that plagues our installation during the lunch hour," he said. "They can sit down and enjoy a meal without the rush of making it back to work on time. Additionally, I believe more of our Soldiers will take advantage of the healthy meals being offered."

While Cannon and Castle Grill was built primarily for Soldiers in 17th Fires and 555th Engineer Brigades, anyone is welcome to dine there.

"We offer healthy food choices, and the price is right," Brobeck added. It is free for those with meal cards and a great bargain for those that are not."

If you go

The Cannon and Castle Grill is located on 41st Division Drive and 12th Street in Building P12638. Breakfast hours are 7:30 to 9 a.m., Monday through Friday, and 8:30 to 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 12 to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Dinner is 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

November 7, 2011 at 6:46am

Pacemaker Battalion unveils print honoring engineers

Artist Patrick Haskett (left center) reveals a painting, titled "Clear - Hold - Build" honors combat engineers. The finished work was unveiled in a ceremony held by 864th Engr. Bn., Oct. 24. The battalion, part of 555th Engr. Bde., returned from deploymen

Soldiers of the 864th Engineer Battalion gathered to unveil a painting honoring the unit in a ceremony Oct. 24 near its headquarters building.

Titled "Clear - Hold - Build," the work by artist Patrick Haskett features combat engineers standing watch while their fellow Soldiers build a new structure.

"There's always room for capturing the essence of Soldiering through the beauty and age-old method of painting. This war has been an inspiration for a lot of artists to tell the Soldier's story, and one story that I realized had not been told was that of the Army combat construction engineer," said Col. Mike Brobeck, commander of the 555th Engineer Brigade.

Some of the proceeds from sales of the print copies will go toward the 555th Eng. Bde. Able Soldier and Family Fund. The fund provides goods and services for deployed Soldiers, and the Families of Soldiers killed or wounded in action.

After the unveiling, Soldiers lined up to have their art print copies personalized, numbered and signed by Haskett.

"Over the 12 months I was deployed, we worked with a lot of the Hesco barrier blast walls and we constructed a lot of motor pools. When I look at it (the painting), I think of projects I was involved in as a heavy equipment operator. The one in the print looks a lot like one of the checkpoints that we built in Iraq," said Spc. Alberto Lugo, a horizontal construction engineer assigned to the 617th Eng. Company.

Haskett's paintings include work dedicated to the Old Guard, 1st Special Forces Group, 8th Army and the U.S. Naval Institute. His paintings have featured other subjects of the engineer regiment with a project for the 14th Eng. Bn. and a painting dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith of the 11th Eng. Bn.

"I was approached by Col. (Mike) Brobeck, and he told me that he had Soldiers who would fight their way into an area, build a combat outpost and then fight their way out of these hostile zones. It was such a compelling story," Haskett said.

The painting went through four conceptual drafts and took five months to complete.

"The subject of bravery is very near and dear to me," said Haskett, who's "Tikrit Blast" painting is on display at the Pentagon, in the offices of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and is also a tribute to combat engineers. Haskett joined the Army after high school and served as an official Army artist in Korea from 1968-69. In addition to his duties as an artist, he served on a quick reaction force during a hostile period in Korea known as the "silent war." Haskett recalled those years involved intense demilitarized zone firefights and insurgencies into South Korea.

Haskett created numerous safety posters, and art for general officers - often times maps that would be kept in secure areas.

"A lot of people say my experience as an enlisted Soldier comes through in my work. I put in small elements and details that people spot ... magazines taped together, the way a Soldier is shown holding his weapon. I feel I have a reputation to uphold for accuracy, so I try to maintain that," Haskett said.

November 7, 2011 at 4:14pm

JBLM Stryker killed in rollover at NTC

 JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - One Soldier assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord was killed, and four other JBLM Soldiers were injured this morning when the Stryker vehicle the Soldiers were traveling in rolled over during a training exercise at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.  The accident took place at approximately 8:20 a.m.

The Soldiers are all assigned to the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.  All the casualties were evacuated by helicopter to the military hospital at the training center.  One Soldier was pronounced dead at the medical facility.  Three of the injured Soldiers were treated and released back to their unit. The fourth Soldier was transported from NTC to a civilian medical treatment facility for additional care.

The name of the deceased Soldier is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The cause of this accident is under investigation.

All members of the JBLM community extend our condolences and support to family and friends of the Soldier who died, and to the Soldiers who were injured in this accident.

November 8, 2011 at 6:57am

JBLM soldiers, JAF hold Operation Flexible Saif

JBLM soldiers, JAF hold Operation Flexible Saif Photo by Cpl. Jordan Johnson

Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord walk to the village hospital with members of the Jordanian army while conducting a situational training exercise Oct. 25. The exercise was one of many during Operation Flexible Saif, a joint-training effort between the Jordanian armed forces and a Task Force from 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment. Third Army is shaping the future of operations in the U.S. Army Central Command area of operations by building partnerships between the U.S. and Jordan.

NEAR AMMAN, Jordan - Soldiers forming a task force from 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, recently participated in Operation Flexible Saif with members of the Jordanian armed forces.

Throughout the exercise, soldiers took on an advise and assist role, trained JAF personnel and provided leadership training for their Jordanian counterparts.

"We are building platoon and company level battle drill skills in order to prepare them for future operations," said Lt. Col. Patrick Quinn, commander, Task Force 1-94 FA (-) and St. Louis native. "They're making progress as we go through this training."

Prior to departing the U.S., members of the task force spent months refining their skills and preparing for dual roles as performers and instructors.

"Our predeployment training was about 90 days," Quinn stated. "We did our own mission readiness exercise, very similar to what we're doing here, out at the Yakima Training Center. We trained not only on the battle drills we needed to conduct here in Jordan, but also on how to become better instructors. There's a difference between doing and teaching; we had to be competent in both."

Those assigned to teach JAF personnel covered a wide variety of tasks and drills. Instructors first went over basic soldiering skills, then advanced to more sophisticated topics.

"We are training the JAF soldiers in different phases," said Staff Sgt. Edward Johnson, construction equipment repairman, 1-94 FA (-) and Albany, Ga., native. "We started at skill level one, which covers individual tasks. Then, we moved up to skill levels two and three, which are more advanced tasks involving leadership roles."

Following weeks of training exercises on humanitarian aid assistance, traffic control point procedures, intelligence gathering and many other security operations techniques, U.S. and Jordanian forces participated in situational training exercise lanes.

"Today we had a scenario where the JAF was supposed to have a key leader engagement," Pfc. Michael Limpert, multiple launch rocket systems fire directional specialist, 1-94 FA (-) and Gainesville, Fla., native said. "I played the role of a suicide bomber. After the bomb went off, they performed nine-line medical evacuations and casualty aid."

After going through multiple scenarios with the JAF, Limpert saw improvements in the trainees.

"They are improving in their organization," stated Limpert. "They have a better understanding of where people need to go."

When improvement is evident, not only are the personnel being trained gaining knowledge, but also the teachers get to walk away with a satisfied feeling, Quinn said.

"There's nothing any non-commissioned officer likes more than seeing a soldier he's been training improve," said Quinn. "Those small-level steps of improvement, even in a Jordanian soldier, are significant for any of our NCO/instructors when he's teaching a task."

Having spent the last decade on a battlefield, U.S. service members developed first-hand knowledge of techniques and strategies that work. JAF personnel came to this training mission with an open mind and open ears, said Johnson.

"The JAF are very receptive to the tactical knowledge and the skills we bring to the table," Johnson stated. "With training of their own, they are already skilled, but we're providing some of our skills and knowledge."

Both countries involved with this exercise came away with an even better understanding of each other, and solidified the relationship between the nations.

"This partnership will build a stronger alliance with the Jordanians," stated Johnson. "We both benefit from this partnership."

Third Army is shaping the future of the U.S. Central Command area of operations by holding mutually beneficial training exercises and maintaining strong partnerships with countries in the AOR.

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How do we sign up???


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Military families need support because the situations can be...


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Proud to have served with the unit from April 2004 to October 2007. One deployment to Iraq in...

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