News: Brig. Gen. drives message home: Don’t forget us.
Story by Sgt. Jessica Barnett
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Being in the Army Reserve or National Guard allows soldiers to experience both a military and civilian life. For Brig. Gen. Mark Corson, commanding general of the Army Reserve’s 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Maryville, Mo., native, this means leading two lives: one as a deployed soldier, and the other as an associate professor of geography at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo.
Prior to the new school year, the university president, John Jasinski, holds an annual, all-employee meeting. Through video teleconferencing Aug. 25 in the 103rd ESC Joint Operations Center at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Corson was able to participate in the meeting as this year’s keynote speaker.
Corson received a standing ovation as he was presented to his peers back home, followed by a heartwarming greeting from his youngest daughter Ashton.
Corson shared with his community the ins and outs of the logistical support that he and his 5,000 soldiers and airmen, and 8,000 contractors, provide for the ongoing mission here in Iraq.
Corson also took the opportunity to explain to his employer what he has learned and can contribute to the university when he gets home.
“I have learned an awful lot about executive level strategic leadership from great mentors,” shared Corson. “I teach things like geography of the Middle East, political geography and military geography, and I have learned absolutely tremendous lessons here as we’ve participated in making history for those things. And when I come back, I am going to have a lot of good insights to share, that I have actually experienced here on the ground.”
Soldiers should take the opportunity to inform their employers of what useful lessons they have learned from their deployment, to ensure that they are being used to their best capabilities, and to demonstrate what they can gain from the deployment, advised Corson.
“As citizen soldiers, I want to ensure that our employers understand both the contribution that we are making, but also the things that we are learning that we will bring back to our employers so that our employers will support us and value us.”
His overall message to the community was simple.
“While we have ceased combat operations on a unilateral basis, this is not over,” said Corson. “Please don’t forget us! In the press this has already been referred to as the ’forgotten war,’ but at least for the next year and a half, the 50,000 service members here are in harm’s way. There are still dangers here; indirect fire on this base several times a day. My convoys are out there still experiencing sporadic attacks. It’s still a war zone. Now on the flip side, to put this in perspective, the violence has decreased 85 to 90 percent since 2006-2007. We have a democratically elected Iraqi government with very capable security forces, and things are much safer than they were. But the bottom line is that we are taking care of the folks here and we would ask that you not forget us.”