News: Arizona Army Guard commander to build ‘bench’ of leaders, mentors
Story by Sgt. Adrian Borunda
PHOENIX – The adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard selected a new head of the Army component late last year to lead the state’s 5,100 soldiers and mold an organization built on leadership and adaptability.
Army Brig. Gen. William A. Hall, the former deputy commanding general of the Texas National Guard’s 36th Infantry Division, is Arizona’s land component commander.
“I’m excited to be a member of the Arizona National Guard for two reasons: one because of the quality of the people in the organization and the potential that lays ahead for us in fulfilling our state and federal missions,” Hall said.
His five-year vision for the Guard is seen through a lens tempered by his own foundation built on Army values.
Hall, who was born in Virginia, describes himself as a “National Guard brat.” His father was a career soldier and several of his family members served in the military.
Although it would seem like Hall was destined to serve, it’s not what he originally had in mind as a career.
“I thought I was going to be a welder or a cowboy,” Hall said. “I enjoy being outside and working with my hands. I thought those were the two things that I might do.”
His family moved from Virginia to central Texas where he grew up near Austin.
“I went off to college at New Mexico Military Institute where I got my commission and finished at Angelo State University,” he said. “I went to work for the National Guard in 1990 and I’ve been pretty much full time for the Guard ever since.”
Hall says he has been blessed with great mentors, especially early in his career.
“There was a battalion operations sergeant major with whom I worked for about five years,” Hall said. “He definitely forged in me the values and doctrine of how we do business in the Army and it stuck with me ever since.”
Those lessons built upon the values he learned during his childhood and as a young adult at NMMI.
“They were instilled in three distinct places. One was how I was raised by my parents; the second one was when I went off to the New Mexico Military Institute – being a military college it was instilled in you – and then my continued service in the Army.”
Welcome to Arizona
Hall sees the Soldier’s Creed rooted in the core values and sees the future as a prosperous one for the Arizona Army National Guard if all soldiers live by it.
“If we lived by the Soldier’s Creed we wouldn’t need a lot of policy and memos. Commanders would have a lot of free time to train because they would not have other distractions,” Hall said.
According to the general’s command policy the organization’s unlimited potential will be realized if trust is earned and maintained. With trust, Hall believes his soldiers can meet his specific, long-term goals.
“I have two goals. The first is to have the Arizona Army Guard to be in the top 10 percent of the 54 states and territories,” he said. “The second goal is to build a bench. The adjutant general told me, ‘Your job is to build a bench, that’s what I need you to do for the Army Guard.'”
The bench is where Hall sees future leaders of the Guard, so his focus will be to build an organization that fosters the growth of great leaders.
“I’m taking a long look at the organization and although there are short-term challenges, I am more concerned about where we are going to be as an organization five years from now.”
Part of that vision includes training future leaders to make difficult decisions by placing them in difficult jobs.
“One of my mentors when I was a major allowed me to watch decisions being made. He gave me hard jobs that allowed me to see things that I otherwise would not have understood,” Hall said.
Earning trust, making hard decisions, living by values echoed in the Soldier’s Creed are the ingredients of Hall’s plan to prepare soldiers for the future, which he says will look very different.
“We have lived in 13 years of unlimited resources. We are now shifting back to a time of constrained resources. The challenge is if we don’t adapt to that change then we will not be the organization we must be,” Hall said.
“There is going to be change in Arizona National Guard, but we don’t know what it will look like,” he said. “We have to see that with change comes opportunity. If we are able to adapt more quickly than other organizations in the military, then we stand a chance to gain new, important missions.”
A bright future
According to Hall taking care of soldiers and oneself is essential to the evolution that will take place.
“I think for those of us who wear the uniform, we work very hard and it is important to have a balance, and part of that balance is faith, family, personal interests and work,” Hall said.
“Maintaining the balance takes self discipline and effort because when we go home at night we must focus on family and not focus on what happened that day or what will happen tomorrow.”
For Hall, the balance is easier to maintain when he can get back to the outdoors and working with his hands.
“I like hunting, I like to ride four wheelers and be outside,” Hall said. “Anything that I can enjoy with my daughter at this point is great, she’s very important to me.”