News: BSB commander ready for the challenges ahead
Story by Capt. John Farmer
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Lt. Col. Mike Scarlett has his hands full.
In July of this year, he took command of the 25th Brigade Support Battalion; a battalion comprised of just over 800 soldiers, split up into four companies, with four completely different mission sets.
Soldiers in this battalion represent more than 50 different military occupational specialties, almost all of them technical in nature, ranging from weapons repair technician to Stryker mechanic to truck driver to combat medic.
Hailing from Kalispell, Mont., Lt. Col. Scarlett recognizes that the men and women responsible for fueling, feeding and fixing the battle-hardened soldiers of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, are the lynchpin for the brigade’s success.
“I want the soldiers to understand that every job in this battalion, regardless of your [military occupational specialty], is critical to this brigade’s ability to perform its mission. It doesn’t matter if you’re a truck driver, a cook, a mechanic or the mail clerk; if you don’t do your piece, they can’t do their piece,” Scarlett said.
In addition to the integral role they play in supporting the brigade’s overall mission, Scarlett stressed how important it is for his soldiers to take pride in their work. Already having witnessed firsthand the outstanding professionalism and technical competence of his soldiers, Scarlett beams with pride whenever he talks about how impressed he is by his soldiers’ ability to accomplish any mission asked of them.
Scarlett said he recognizes that, as the battalion commander, he has the responsibility, and the privilege, to ensure his soldiers are put through the rigorous training they deserve so they are able to support the rest of the brigade. He constantly stresses the basics. If his soldiers can shoot, move, and communicate, in addition to their technical skills, they can deploy to any part of the globe and perform whatever is asked of them.
Lt. Col. Scarlett’s commitment to training and preparing his soldiers goes beyond the boundaries of the brigade.
“I’m not just training them for their time in this battalion. I want every soldier that leaves this battalion and goes somewhere else … to be able to present him or herself as knowing what they’re talking about, because we’ve trained them to the Army standards, and we’ve developed them,” he said. “So, when it’s time to pin on chevrons or to get the rocker for the next higher grade, or to take command, we have prepared them here, so they’re ready to go. I want people to understand that we’ve got to be deliberate in everything we do.”
Giving soldiers ample time for training is paramount in any unit, especially in one as unique as the BSB; a task complicated by the nature of the battalion he commands. Lt. Col. Scarlett and his team face the daunting challenge of organizing training and bringing unity to a battalion with a vast array of specialties while at the same time supporting the brigade.
The 25th Brigade Support Battalion is composed of four separate companies: Headquarters and Headquarters Company not only contains the staff who plan training and coordinate resources for the battalion as a whole, it is also home to the food service personnel that feed the brigade; the Brigade Support Medical Company is responsible for numerous medical functions across the brigade; the Forward Maintenance Company provides the mechanics to maintain the Brigade’s Strykers and other equipment; and the Distribution Company functions to run the Supply Support Activity and move equipment, food, fuel and water across the battlefield.
Despite the hard work, late nights, long hours and intense training that lie ahead, Scarlett said he is excited to see what his soldiers are truly capable of.
“I’m really looking forward to this spring when we get to take the battalion to the field and see where we stand; establishing the [Brigade Support Area], going through lanes, working together as a team from one location with our sole focus being training the tactical aspects of our jobs,” he said. “The next thing I’m looking forward to is [the National Training Center] where we actually get to go do it with outside eyes evaluating us [the NTC Observer Controllers] and see how far we’ve come.”