News: Behind the lines with Human Resources
Story by Spc. Thomas Duval
ZABUL, Afghanistan - There is an unsung group of heroes in our Army fighting an endless war. Their pictures are rarely, if ever seen on Army recruitment posters, and they are seldom depicted in Hollywood movies. Nevertheless, they have dedicated their lives and make it their duty to battle the never-ending mounds of paperwork that seem to mark each milestone of a soldier’s career.
The soldiers, who embody this admirable work ethic, are the human resource specialists of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
Working around the clock, the HR soldiers provide a valuable service that not just any soldier can perform.
Master Sgt. Paul Wayfield, senior human resources non-commissioned officer of 1/25th SBCT, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, leads the S-1 shop, which is responsible for the staffing, personnel movement and the administrative needs of more than 4,000 “Arctic Wolves” soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
As the senior brigade HR NCO, Wayfield and his soldiers provide all aspects of essential services and support to Arctic Wolves and their families whether at home station or in a deployed environment, he said.
The HR team also shoulders the responsibility of an almost endless list of tasks most would consider overwhelming, such as identification cards, requests for leave and earnings statements, promotions, reductions and enlisted records updates.
“We see many things in our job and the most important part is taking care of the soldiers whether that includes updating ERB’s or writing a letter to the family members of our fallen soldiers,” said Cpl. Samuel Whaley, an Ogden, Utah, native and the 1/25th SBCT strength management noncommissioned officer in charge.
Whaley and Wayfield both agree their team accomplishes these difficult tasks through a term commonly used by soldiers, teamwork.
“Respect is earned … and teamwork plays a very important role,” Wayfield said. “Working in an operational environment, leaders have an excellent opportunity to build teams and systems that can be sustained long after operations transition back to garrison. In this environment soldiers share many things that would otherwise not be possible due to garrison battle rhythms.”
According to Wayfield the key to overcoming the demanding workload is to ensure that leaders at the lowest level are involved in their soldiers’ lives and that each soldier gives their all everyday – something he said his soldiers do very well.
“Knowing the soldiers, their strengths and weaknesses helps all leaders ensure all soldiers’ needs are addressed no matter how big or small,” he continued. “After 18 years, soldiers never cease to amaze me, no matter the conditions soldiers strive to do their best each day.”
Wayfield and his Soldiers have mastered the ability to build a great team and their battle buddies have began to notice the importance of HR specialists.
“It’s always easy for soldiers to overlook the jobs that aren’t necessarily combat arms MOS’s (military occupational specialties) but our S1 shop usually works just as hard as the men on the frontlines, and you never find them complaining,” said Pvt. Cody Spradlin, a fire support specialist assigned to the Brigade Troops Battalion, 1/25th SBCT. “They do everything to help our soldiers.”
“Our work is our biggest motivator … for us to know that we actually helped someone further a soldier’s career or gave a family member closure makes all the long days and nights worth it,” Whaley said.