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    28 ID commander holds mid-deployment town hall to update soldiers, field questions

    28 ID commander holds mid-deployment town hall to update soldiers, field questions

    Photo By Master Sgt. Doug Roles | CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 28th...... read more read more

    By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Roles
    28th Infantry Division, Task Force Spartan Public Affairs

    CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 28th Infantry Division received a mid-deployment update from commanders during a June 29 town hall event that also focused on what’s next for the unit. The soldiers are deployed in support of Task Force Spartan.
    The battalion is serving under U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) as the headquarters element for the roughly 9,000-soldier task force that conducts training events, subject matter expert exchanges and symposia, to build interoperability. Approximately 500 HHBN soldiers mobilized from Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania in mid-January for the mission. The unit will return to Pennsylvania this fall.
    During the town hall meeting, Maj. Gen. Andrew Schafer, division commander, provided an overview of the mission and the area of operations, which comprises much of the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt.
    Schafer commended his soldiers on their hard work so far and encouraged them to take care of themselves and each other. Questions from soldiers in attendance ranged from what determines success on this deployment to what the unit will be doing when it returns home. Schafer said there are several components to success, including building readiness and developing positive relationships with ARCENT counterparts.
    "Improving our ‘fight tonight’ capability and providing oversight for transitioning units, that is success,” Schafer said. “I think we have been successful and that we’ll continue to improve.”
    TF-Spartan is comprised of a field artillery brigade, an engineer brigade, an air defense artillery brigade and an armor brigade. Lt. Col. Garry Hahn, division chief of assessment, asked Schafer what his biggest challenge has been as TFS commander compared to his normal role as “Iron Division” commander. Schafer said the 28th normally has mission command for four brigades, all in Pennsylvania, whereas Task Force Spartan conducts theater security cooperation in nine countries in the Mideast.
    “Besides the Spartan brigades, we have some additional smaller elements. Getting around and seeing them all is challenging,” Schafer said. “When I go somewhere here, it’s a challenge. At the Gap [Fort Indiantown Gap] you can visit three or four battalions on a weekend. You can’t do that here.”
    “The amount of information is just overwhelming. You have to count on your staff,” Schafer added.
    Schafer noted that the 28th’s division staff doesn’t normally work with theater-level air defense assets. He joked that as he has traveled the area of operations to visit air defense artillery sites, his staff has told him that Patriot batteries all look the same.
    “But there are different soldiers at each one,” Schafer said. “Eighty percent of that formation is first-time enlistees. I see great work being done by E-1s to E-3s [privates].”
    In response to a question about junior officer development, Schafer advised soldiers to keep up with their civilian and military education. He said the unit has pushed hard to have noncommissioned officers complete online coursework that is a prerequisite to attending schools required for promotion.
    “We have some junior NCOs and junior officers punching way above their weight. We have lieutenants doing the job of ‘Iron majors,’” Schafer said.
    Unit leaders also talked about what the battalion’s soldiers will be doing after this deployment ends. A focus will be on getting soldiers to their next required military schools. HHBN will also reset and begin the ongoing multi-year Army Force Generation cycle of training. A computer-simulated command post exercise is slated for 2019 and is among a number of training events leading up to a Warfighter exercise planned for early 2021. Warfighter is a culminating training event for brigade and division headquarters.
    Lt. Col. Erik Smith, commander of the headquarters battalion, said there are many soldiers on the deployment who are new to HHBN. He said from the start of the mobilization, through training at Fort Hood, Texas and arrival into theater, the soldiers have coalesced as a team.
    “They have done an amazing job, well above and beyond what myself and the command sergeant major [Command Sgt. Maj. Jeremy Strathmeyer] could have expected from when we left Pennsylvania,” Smith said. “They just stepped up their game beyond belief and came together from across the state.”
    During the town hall, Smith spoke to soldiers about the performance triad. He said that soldiers at Camp Arifjan have multiple options when it comes to working out and can chose healthy foods in the dining facilities. But he warned that consecutive nights with five hours or less of sleep leave a soldier as impaired as a drunk driver.
    “Sleep is a very important part of the triad though you don’t hear as much about it,” he said.
    Schafer and Smith provided a brief history of HHBN and the division at the start of the event. The 28th is America’s oldest continuously-serving division and earned the moniker “Iron Division” in World War I when Gen. John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, referred to the division’s soldiers as “Men of Iron.”
    During the town hall, soldiers also received briefings about the Army’s Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention program – referred to as SHARP - and the code of conduct during deployment. A briefing about extension and re-enlistment options was also provided.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.29.2018
    Date Posted: 07.14.2018 03:32
    Story ID: 284257
    Location: KW

    Web Views: 318
    Downloads: 2

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