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    To get the shot, you need the will to climb a mountain

    This story originally appeared on the Army Public Affairs Center Medium page on Oct. 17th, and can be found at:

    Growing up in the Army as a combat engineer taught me a lot about service and leadership. The most important lesson I learned was that no matter what we do, we’re constantly being evaluated. Many times, those assessments are unknown to us, but they can have a major impact.

    As a Public Affairs NCO assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group, I can fully appreciate what it means to face daily evaluations. Recently, I took an assignment to work with the Special Operations Advanced Mountaineering School at Fort Carson, Colorado. The seven-week Senior Mountaineering course is designed to prepare Special Operations Forces to operate in and lead untrained teams through extreme terrain.

    Most of the products would be for internal use, but this was my first big opportunity to show my new unit the breadth of my capabilities.

    This was true in more ways than one as I quickly found that the only way to get the coverage I needed was to participate in the mountain training myself. I couldn’t get the footage I needed by just standing near the climbing wall, I needed to harness-up and hang over the side, or ascend and descend with the trainees on 100-foot vertical wall-climbs. I may have started out as the “camera guy” in the eyes of those who were training, but I ended up learning nearly as much as the Green Berets going through the course themselves.

    Now, I had no particular ambitions to becoming a mountaineer, I just wanted to get good coverage of the training.

    However, the cadre of the school took notice of my willingness to take part in the tactical mountain operations, and before I knew it I was being requested by name for some exciting and challenging missions including assisting local authorities during a search and rescue.

    It sounds like an opportunity of a lifetime, but some of our fellow PA colleagues may be apprehensive or not able to take on those challenging assignments.

    Here is an example: On one exercise, the SF students partnered with and led a conventional unit on a mission through the Colorado mountains. That unit sent their own PA professional to cover the training, but due to the altitude and physical demands of the training that individual could not finish the exercise. This meant that he did not capture his unit reaching the summit or ex-filtrating the mountains.

    Now I mention this story not to be judgemental of that individual, but to make everyone understand that we’re always under evaluation. In the eyes of some of the Green Berets along with members of his own unit, public affairs had failed because it’s hard to tell the story of our Soldiers if we can’t train beside them.

    Luckily for me and my unit, the SF cadre did not see me in the same light. They recognized my hard work, and I earned the trust of the group I was with throughout the duration of the training. In the SOF world that means everything especially as a PA professional. In the Special Operations community, the reward for hard work is inclusion.

    During another training event, we went on to summit two 14,000-foot peaks. At one point, while traversing the ridgeline between the two peaks, the instructor I was tethered to looked at me and said, “If I fall to the right, you have to jump off to the left. It’s going to hurt like hell, but it’s the only way to save both of our lives.”

    In that moment, I couldn’t afford to just take photos — I had to immerse myself in the task of not falling off a mountain, and balance that need with my role as a Public Affairs professional. I also realized that if the people you’re with can’t trust you, they won’t include you when something remarkable happens.

    Too often, some PA Soldiers go to the field and think they’re just there to cover the event. While that is our primary mission, never discount the value of the training, and how we can grow as Soldiers and military leaders.

    While standing tall on the 14,000-foot summit, after weeks of hard work, physical exertion, and uncomfortable field conditions in the cold, windy and rainy environment, it occurred to me: To get the shot, you need the will to climb a mountain.

    That analogy may seem like low-hanging fruit, especially considering I was literally standing on top of a mountain when it came to me, but it applies to every facet of Army Public Affairs.

    It means making yourself valuable to the units you’re attached to and taking that extra step to make sure your story is getting the attention and effort it deserves. It may seem like a lot of the stories we cover may seem repetitive, or seemingly uninteresting. It may seem easier to just phone in the effort and move on to the next deadline. However, there are ways to make them better.

    The reward for hard work is often more work, and you never know where those future assignments will take you — maybe even to the top of a mountain.



    Date Taken: 10.17.2017
    Date Posted: 12.06.2017 12:18
    Story ID: 257665
    Location: CO, US

    Web Views: 156
    Downloads: 0