News: Learning the Air Cav way
Story by Sgt. Alun Thomas
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — For troops of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, deployed since April, there has been ample time to adjust to the rigors and firm guidelines during a deployment.
However, not all 1st ACB Soldiers have been involved with the mission since it began over four months ago, and their late arrival means they have to catch up on what is expected of them while deployed — especially those in combat for the first time.
To help these late deployers achieve a level of understanding about the rules of deployment and hardships that may be felt, Col. Douglas Gabram, from Cleveland, Ohio, commander, 1st ACB, led a newcomer's brief at the Taji Ministry Center, Sept. 3.
"I'm going to be upfront and tell you about some of the ground rules we have here," Gabram said. "These are things we believe in and find rewarding."
Gabram explained his command philosophy and said one of the most important points was to "stay positive, stay alert and take care of each other."
"It's hard to stay positive, especially when you think about your family," Gabram said. "We all go through problems, regardless of the rank you wear, and in a year a lot of things happen at home. So if we take care of each other, we can stay positive."
Staying alert means keeping your head up, Gabram reminded his troopers.
"For all the first time deployers who think [Camp Taji] is a safe place; there are bad people out here," he said. "Whether you're in the cockpit or outside the wire, keep your head up."
Gabram instructed the audience about General Order violations regarding various topics such as alcohol, drugs and gambling.
"We want everyone to come back wearing the same rank or a higher one, so that means doing the right thing," Gabram said. "We have high standards and we are not going to turn our back to any of these things."
Learning these procedures was first time deployer, Spc. Jennifer Sybert, from Morrisville, Vt., a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, who said she has been in Iraq a month and found the brief informative.
"It covered a lot of stuff and was a good introduction considering I came here late," Sybert said. "It's good that the command sergeant major and the colonel came out here to talk to us. That was a plus."
Despite the reduced levels of activity, Sybert said she is still happy to be deployed.
"I'm a medic and I had to load two people on Blackhawks which was exciting," Sybert said. "I'm happy here and enjoying myself nonetheless."
"That's why we're doing this brief, so you know where we're coming from and why we've emplaced the things we have," said Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Vela, from Dallas, command sergeant major, 1st ACB. "Sometimes the follow on guys have a hard time catching up."
Some Soldiers new to the 1st ACB may have a tendency to revert back to their last unit's policies, which are not applicable in their new environment, he said.
"You have to be familiar with our procedures because we're going to do things the Air Cav way."