News: New ‘Automatic’ commander shifts focus to soldiers, families and core competencies
Story by Sgt. Thomas Duval
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – For more than 50 years the 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, has adapted to a wide range of missions; from Panama to Guantanamo Bay to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Having recently returned from a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan, the 2-8th is once again changing its focus and adapting, but this time it’s not for an impending war.
Instead, Lt. Col. Thomas Robinson, commander 2-8th FA, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, is shifting the battalion’s focus to promote strong families.
“The Army has asked us to be ready to go anytime, anywhere and for me that means training and being good field artillerymen while also ensuring soldier and family readiness,” Robinson said.
“I am a big supporter of families. I myself am an Army spouse and right now my soldier is deployed,” he said. “For the guys just coming back from deployment, it’s important for me to ensure the guys are getting off at a reasonable hour and that we are affording them time with their families.”
Unlike many commanders, Lt. Col. Robinson understands what it’s like to be a soldier and a military spouse.
His wife, Lt. Col. Lori Robinson, is deployed to Afghanistan where she serves as the commander for the 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, based out of Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii.
“I miss the heck out of my wife,” he said. “This is the first time we have been away from each other, but we deal with it like any other family does. We email and call whenever we can.”
Although, he admits it’s tough, the Stony Point, N.Y., native, insists the challenges are a way for him to relate to his soldiers and their families.
“Being married and now my soldier is deployed, I feel like I can relate to the families more,” he said.
In addition to improving and strengthening the bonds between the soldiers and their families, Robinson is preparing his unit to get back to the “core competencies” that come with being artillerymen.
“Over the last 10 years the mission of field artillery has been in flux,” said the Iraq and Afghanistan veteran. “Artillerymen have been asked to do a lot of things other than shooting. For example, in Afghanistan they were conducting convoys and pulling convoy security. With the Army changing we get to focus on straight field artillery training while also maintaining the lessons learned from the skills we learned … and the guys are excited.”
“I want to get back to training and shooting,” he said. “The guns are coming and the guys are excited about it. They love to be back on the guns.”
With the Alaska winter rapidly approaching the artillerymen may not be excited for too long, but it’s a challenge Lt. Col. Robinson has faced before.
Shortly after completing the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, Robinson’s first assignment was at Fort Wainwright where he served as the fire support officer for A Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Battery followed by a stint as the executive officer for B Battery, 4th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment.
“Coming back here where it all started for me is awesome,” he said. “I was excited when I found out I was going to be the commander of the 2-8th Field Artillery and believe me, I’m no stranger to the cold.”
Prepared for the Alaskan winter and the return of his weapons systems after a very demanding reset process, Robinson said he’s looking forward to his time as commander of the 2-8th.
“We have a solid unit with good leaders and good Soldiers and I’m confident there is no mission they could throw at us that we couldn’t accomplish,” he said.
This work, New ‘Automatic’ commander shifts focus to soldiers, families and core competencies, by SGT Thomas Duval, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.