CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Senior leadership from the U.S. Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve visited troops deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Feb. 6-8, as part of the Joint Monthly Access to Reserve Component (JMARC) program. JMARC helps facilitate face-to-face interaction between RC and National Guard leaders and their deployed units.
Among those leaders visiting was Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., the Adjutant General for the state of South Carolina, and Command. Sgt. Maj. Robert H. Brickley, Jr., South Carolina Guard National Guard State Command Sergeant Major, who met with 751st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion soldiers.
“The purpose of my visit is to meet with the great troops of the South Carolina National Guard and get an understanding of their mission and how it fits into the [U.S. Army Central] mission overall, and how we can properly support [U.S. Central Command], and to carry back any lessons learned, so we can better prepare our people to help with the mission here,” said Livingston.
He said he was pleased that the 751st CSSB had hit the ground running, quickly establishing themselves as a unit with a good reputation for getting the job done.
“They fit right in as a member of a team. [U.S. Army Central] has a tremendous mission and a very difficult mission. They’re up to the task; especially with drawdown, because we have so many multi-talented people in the 751st,” said Livingston. “As we draw down these supporting units, the battalion is asked to do so many different things, and they’re very well suited to do it. It’s a tremendous amount of movement of equipment and supplies.”
During a private lunch with the general, Livingston thanked the Soldiers for their sacrifices. He said they were carrying on a tradition which had made the country great: that of individual contributions. He inquired into the living conditions of the Soldiers and their impression of the deployment thus far. There was even talk of the harsh winter weather back in the U.S.
“It’s good that [the general] has come here. He’s brought us a little piece of the state, of home. I think the soldiers in our unit are enjoying their opportunity to talk with him,” said Sgt. Tarrah Gonzalez, an administration specialist with the 751st CSSB. “I feel that his presence shows a concern for us and our wellbeing.”
Gonzalez is on her second deployment, with a previous deployment to Iraq. She has served 12 years in the National Guard. She said there is a unique family-atmosphere in the National Guard, because people remain within the same unit for their entire careers, rather than moving to different duty stations. She said she had often seen the general in their offices and felt comfortable engaging him – a sentiment Livingston heartily endorsed.
“We know each other. Our Families know each other. They really care about each other. One of our big efforts is to help traditional [National Guard] soldiers find employment. We’ve taken the rate of unemployment in that group from about 16 percent down to 3 percent,” said Livingston. “That [success] is because our soldiers have connections within their communities, and they are able to expand those connections to help their fellow soldiers. You’re not just helping your nation; you’re helping your next door neighbor.”
In addition to visit his troops, Livingston said he would interact with the other leadership attending the JMARC event and exchange ideas on how to continue to improve the National Guard and serve the state of South Carolina.