News: New Bobcat commander draws on unit’s rich legacy
Story by Sgt. Thomas Duval
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - In January of 1966, the Infantryman of the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment entered the thick jungles of Vietnam to fight for a piece of ground that would later be used as the 25th Infantry Division’s headquarters in the Cu Chi District, an area known by the soldiers who fought there as ‘hells half acre’. On the surface of Cu Chi, the 1-5th soldiers were met with fierce fighting from the Viet Cong and Viet Minh, who used the thick brush and dense jungle canopy to initiate ambushes and other guerilla warfare techniques. Beneath the soldiers’ feet, under a thick surface, lay 240 square miles of tunnel networks the Viet Cong used to move undetected from one place to another. After 66 days of continuous and intense fighting, the soldiers of the 1-5th defeated the enemy and seized the base of operations. This wasn’t the end of the war for soldiers of the 1-5th, but their mission was, for the moment, complete.
It’s these heroic stories combined with the lessons learned throughout the 5th Infantry Regiment’s 200 year history that Lt. Col. Jason Wesbrock, commander of the 1-5th, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division will use to help define the future of the Bobcats as the unit’s current soldiers prepare for future missions.
“I knew that I was walking into a phenomenal organization with a great history,” Wesbrock said. “Being selected to be a battalion commander is an awesome and humbling experience and the fact that I get to serve in an organization like the Bobcats, that can trace its history back 200 years and have fought in every major conflict since 1808, is incredible.”
Wesbrock, a native of Apache Junction, Ariz., has shaped his command philosophy around the unit’s previous successes as well as his personal experiences.
Commanders find the things that work well in the unit and continue those things and then add or adjust little things to help fit the mission and the individual’s philosophy, according to Wesbrock.
Since taking command July 11, 2012, the father of two has implemented a command philosophy to get the unit where he feels it needs to be.
That philosophy has three priorities: mission, family and balance.
“I don’t think you can focus on one specific topic as a commander. I think you have to look at the whole picture of what will make the organization great,” Wesbrock said. “My command philosophy is focused on disciplined Soldiers that are well trained, that inculcate safety, and that balance their work life with their family life.”
Wesbrock said his unit will be trained and combat ready.
“Our readiness level should never be in question,” Wesbrock explained in a memo to his battalion’s leaders.
“To prepare ourselves for our mission, we will focus on training, deployment readiness, leader development, force well-being and safety,” he added.
Wesbrock has challenged his leadership to ensure each soldier is well rounded both on the field and at home.
One of the most important priorities for Wesbrock is family – specifically family welfare and family readiness.
“One of the big challenges our military has had over the last 10 years, is we do really well at resetting our equipment and our units in a year, but what we are seeing is the challenge of resetting families in that same year time frame,” Wesbrock said.
To ensure families get the assistance needed, Wesbrock has stressed the importance of family readiness groups and plans to monitor the morale and success of each FRG closely.
Together, family readiness and mission readiness play a vital role to ensure balance throughout the unit.
“We have to make sure we balance all of our training now with making sure we allow soldiers to reconnect with their families,” Wesbrock said. “The soldiers will have plenty of time to work long hours while they are in the field and deployed, but in garrison [we need to] ensure they make the time for their family and friends.”
With these three priorities outlined and in place throughout every level of the organization, Wesbrock said he is looking forward to getting back to doing what he loves most; leading soldiers.
“Being with the Soldiers, leading soldiers is why I joined the Army,” Wesbrock said.
Motivated by the morale of his soldiers and backed by more than 20 decades of success, Wesbrock hopes his command philosophy and points of emphasis will help carry the torch for one of the Army’s oldest active regiments for another 200 years.