News: Deputy commander enables return of elite arctic training
Story by Sgt. Thomas Duval
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – The soldiers of the 75th Ranger Regiment are recognized as some of the best trained, experienced and lethal troops. Their precision night raids into enemy territories and their ability to rapidly deploy make them one of the most effective and largest special operations elements in the Army.
In August, the commander of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Col. Brian Reed and his 4,000-Soldier Brigade welcomed a former member of the elite team into their ranks.
Lt. Col. William Gottmeier, a West Point graduate and the new deputy commanding officer for the 1-25th SBCT, plans to combine what he learned while serving as the 75th Ranger Regiments Strategic Plans and Requirements officer and their chief of operations in Operation Enduring Freedom along with his experiences in U.S. Army Alaska G-3/5/7, strategic planning and operations officer, in an effort to help Col. Reed put the arctic back into the Arctic Wolves.
“Some of the deployment requirements to Afghanistan or Iraq are coming off our plates and allowing us to refocus on some of the tasks that we haven’t looked at in a long time that are also a part of our mission essential tasks,” Gottmeier said. “Perfecting the basics successfully and having highly trained teams that can shoot, move and communicate are the building blocks to any successful combat formation.”
As the deputy commander for the Alaska-based Stryker unit, Gottmeier, among other things, is directly responsible for getting the unit back to the basics by overseeing both arctic and mountain training.
He plans to accomplish this mission by maximizing the soldiers’ exposure to some of Alaska’s most prominent training environments like the Black Rapids Training Site.
Home to the Northern Warfare Training Center, Black Rapids includes some of the most challenging arctic, subarctic and mountain environments available to Soldiers.
“NWTC is a world class asset that we need to tap into… It’s the only one like it in the Army,” the Sandy Hook, Conn native said.”
In a state where temperatures can go from 50 degrees one day to below zero the next, Gottmeier said he is focused on “building the training path to get the unit on an arctic leaders certification program where they will be able to train in the extreme temperatures and survive and not just survive, but also succeed and accomplish missions.”
Some of the specific courses Gottmeier plans to utilize include but are not limited to the basic mountaineering course, mountain warfare class and cold weather leader’s course.
“We could go anywhere in the world and we have to be prepared,” he said. “These skills are applicable and it’s training the Army has gotten away from for over a decade as a matter of necessity for units to focus on multiple deployments,” he said.
Getting a brigade with approximately 4,000 soldiers, most of which are new to the unit or the Army, ‘winterized’ and combat ready is a daunting task for any individual, but it’s Gottmeier’s impressive history as an Army leader that has Col. Reed and the rest of the 1-25 SBCT on track to maintaining their dominance as one of the Army’s elite and most versatile, arctic Stryker elements.
“Lt. Col. Gottmeier is a perfect fit for the Brigade and is an enormous asset,” Reed said. “He is professional; a standard based, and leads by example. I am very excited to have him and his family as part of the Arctic Wolves team and his experience and leadership will make us a better brigade.”
In addition to three deployments with the 75th Ranger Regiment and a stint with USARAK, Gottmeier has led elements from the 10th Mountain Division, the 5th Ranger Training Battalion and 1st Cavalry Division.
“I have been lucky enough to be in a variety of Infantry units; I have been in heavy, light and airborne ranger assignments, so there is a wealth of experience on the different means to get the infantrymen to the fight that I can bring to the 1-25 SBCT,” the DCO said.
Gottmeier plans to work with Col. Reed to have the unit fully equipped and trained by the upcoming summer.
“By next summer the unit will have battalions and companies that have all their essential men, weapons and equipment and are fully trained on their mission-essential tasks,” Gottmeier said.
In addition to individual skills, he plans to employ and exploit the vast capabilities of the unit’s Stryker vehicles.
“Strykers are the median force between light and heavy and have really good tactical and strategic mobility,” Gottmeier said. “A Stryker can move large distances and that’s what makes the Stryker formation so great and such a versatile platform compared to a light or airborne formation which are often limited to how they can move around the battlefield. We plan to use this asset to our advantage and maximize our training.”
Having his men trained and prepared for the mission ahead is an area he said he takes great pride in but it’s not just the training that has this expert infantryman excited.
The father of two said he is “happy to be back in a tactical unit with Soldiers that I can talk to and be a part of their career.”
The mission for the deputy commander is strenuous and extremely detailed but it’s a mission he’s not tackling alone.
When the DCO isn’t outlining training plans, assisting the commander, or getting to know the soldiers better he will be spending time with his family exploring the Last Frontier.
Standing beside Gottmeier is his wife of 17 years, Heather, daughter Brooke and son Will.
He said they are just as excited to be here as he is.
Though he admits that getting the unit where it needs to be will have its challenges, Lt. Col. Gottmeier said he is living out his dream and doing exactly what he always wanted to do.
“I always wanted to be in the military. When I was a little kid I was always running around playing guns and I wanted to be on America’s side, not the bad guy’s side,” Gottmeier said. “I’m excited to be here and I am very impressed with where this brigade is.”