OCT - DEC 2011 5 5 T H B R I G AD E N E W S L E T T E R Vol 1 Edition 1 ST RI K E NE W S BRIGADE’S MOBILIZATION DELAYED The Office of the Secretary of Defense has announced that the 2012 Pennsylvania National Guard’s 55th JAN Heavy Brigade Combat Team FEB (HBCT), headquartered in Scranton, MAR will mobilize nearly nine months after their originally planned date. APR The 55th HBCT was scheduled to MAY deploy to Kuwait in early 2012 and JUN has spent the past year planning and JUL training for this mission. The mission for which the 55th HBCT AUG has been preparing for has not SEP changed, only the dates. OCT The shift in dates is a result of the NOV Department of Defense actions to realign forces in the Central Command theater. “The BCT’s leaders are starting an Since 9/11, Soldiers and units from assessment of the impact of the the brigade have deployed to Central “While the change is abrupt and change and developing plans for Europe, Bosnia, Iraq, Kuwait, the certainly has a major impact on maintaining the unit’s readiness Sinai, and Afghanistan. More every Guardsman’s personal and until the new mobilization date.” recently, over 1,300 Guardsmen professional life, additional time to from the 55th HBCT also assisted prepare for the mission is always Over 3,500 Guardsmen serve in the civil authorities in Northeastern beneficial,” said Col. George 55th HBCT in 23 communities Pennsylvania during flooding Schwartz, 55th Brigade Commander. throughout eastern Pennsylvania. caused by Hurricanes Irene and Lee. FORT PICKETT, PAGE 3 ARMY WARRIOR TASKS, PAGE 2 FAMILY READINESS, PAGE 5
TOO MUCH TRAINING - NO SUCH THINGSgt. Brian Truesdale warrior tasks and four battle drills required in theater. “We have designed Too much training is like too muchmoney, there is no such thing. That is a flowing event so that Soldiers aren’t ARM Y WA RR I O Rgood news as the 55th Heavy Brigade standing at a table talking about hand TA S K S and arm signals,” said Boccardi.Combat Team has not been short ontraining throughout the past year. Instead, Soldiers use their knowledge of multiple tasks at once in The change of the brigade’s a series of simulation lanes. A givenmobilization date will now require lane evaluates a Soldier in several taskssome training to be repeated due to the and sub-tasks. Every Soldier is trackedwindow of time it must be completed to validate that they can successfullyin before mobilization. However, the perform every task in every lane.benefits are not lost since the Army C OMB ATIVESWarrior Tasks (AWT) training is As the brigade resets theirlargely based upon our Mission schedule to meet the new mobilizationEssential Task List and should be dates, the brigade commander wantsconducted every year anyway. to ensure soldiers keep their skills The AWT training is organized to sharp while not over-extending theirevaluate the soldiers’ individual tasks training obligations.in a group environment, according to “Our soldiers have worked hardSgt. Maj. Raymond Boccardi, non- over the past year and accomplished acommissioned officer in charge of the lot. Although we need to stay focusedPre-Mobilization Training Assistance on deployment, we need to ensure they ROLL OVER TRAINERElement, or PTAE. have adequate time for their families He went on to explain that the and civilian employers,” Col. Georgefocus of the training is on an individual Schwartz, commander, 55th HBCT.Soldier’s ability to perform all of the 15 GRENADES S QUAD MOVEMENT
A UN IT O F AC T I O N Soldiers in A co. and B co. 1-109th Combined Arms Battalion conduct squad battle drills during their October Annual Training at Fort Pickett Va. Small unit dominance and close combat supremacy is a result of proficient Soldiers and leaders and close.
A UN IT O F AC T I O NIndividual weapons qualifications was alsoconducted during the October annual trainingperiods.TOP: Pvt Slowikowski, a soldier with HHC 1-109thCombined Arms Battalion, confirms the accuracy ofhis M4 rifle prior to hes weapon qualification.MIDDLE: Staff Sgt. Rossetti, a squad leader with CCo 1-109th Combined Arms Battalion, engages a bluetarget on the rifle qualification range at Fort Pickett,Va.BOTTOM: After scoring an expert qualification onthe rifle range, Sgt. 1st Class Lee, a platoon sergeantwith C Co 1-109th Combined Arms Battalion, testshis advanced marksmanship skills by engagingtargets while wearing a protective mask.
MENTORNET, A BRIGADE WIDE FAMILY NETWORKPV2 Ashley E. Heckard oversight to ensure training and “I realized there are a group of “To provide accessible, monetary dispersement as needs are military spouses that have gonecompassionate mentoring for our identified. through multiple deployments andfamilies through educational outreach.” The ‘Advisory Committee’ is six would be good leaders for the familyThat is the mission statement for the designated battalion representatives readiness groups, providing greatnewly formed “MentorNet”, a military who identify the needs and justification guidance”, said Ranaudo.community where spouses and family to the ‘Executive Committee’. “(MentorNet) also allows the mentorsmembers can receive support from a The last committee is designed to to have a support group as well.”brigade-wide network of strong, manage funds that help support the Most soldiers and their families haveexperienced mentors. brigades Family Readiness Groups. a difficult job adjusting to the “The planning group is made up of “The advisory (Senior Mentors) to deployment atmosphere.about a dozen volunteers, and spouses the Family Readiness Groups are “I have been deployed before and Iof senior officers and NCO’s”, said Lt. experienced and have been around the know the stress that comes along withCol. Marty Kane, the Rear Detachment military lifestyle for quite a while”, said it”, said COL Schwartz. “This is to helpCommander of the 55th Brigade. Gayla L. Debonise, a senior mentor overcome that challenge of separation.”“Membership will be expanded to all of with MentorNet, “I like to sometimes The MentorNet group is still in itsthe HBCT’s battalions in the near call us the ‘oldie moldies’ of the beginning phase, but all who arefuture.” organization.” involved look at the group as a The organizational structure of the The MentorNet organization has beneficial and resourceful project.group is comprised of four separate meetings every other week at the “Our ultimate goal is to improvecommittee’s. The ‘Senior Mentors’, who armory in Scranton, PA. Along with resiliency and work through adverseare the spouses of senior officers and advising Family Readiness Groups, the situations to become stronger thannon-commissioned officers. Their MentorNet plans to organize big events before”, said Schwartz. “Everything wepurpose is to provide life experiences for military families. An ‘Essential Life do is for the Family Readiness Groups,and stability to junior family members. Skills Workshop’ will be held March 3, to improve activities, to have a positive The ‘Executive Committee’ is made 2012 in Scranton, June 9 in impact on the families of Soldiers. Andup of the 55th Brigade’s Commander Philadelphia and August 25 in we will ultimately fulfill that goal.”Col. George M. Schwartz, the Executive Kingston instructed by Kami A.Officer Lt. Col. Judah M. Whitney, Lt. Merrifield, Ph. D, an assistant professor If you would like to know moreCol. Marty Kane, Command Sgt. Maj. for Human Development and Family information about the Essential LifeWade E. Heilman and Sherry Ranaudo, Studies at Penn State University and Skills Workshop you can view that anda Family Readiness Support Assistant. Staff Sgt. Eric J. Darling, the Master more onTheir purpose is to provide command Resiliency Trainer for the brigade. www.militaryfamilylifeskills.org.
BRIGADE SNIPERSSTALK UP ON ASK A JOE What do you expect to experience when you (eventually) reach Kuwait?NATIONALCOMPETITION Pvt. Derek Dur phy Sgt. Robert Farley and Sgt. A Co 1-110 Inf. BattalionCharles Snyder, snipers with HHC Attached To HHC 55th HBCT1-109th Combined Arms Battalion,attended the National GuardSniper Championship held at Camp “Based on what I’ve seen so far, IRobinson Arkansas from 13-20 see my chain of command beingNovember 2011, where they took well organized and getting mesixth place out of thirteen sniper the information I need. Oh....teams. They competed againstNational Guard, active Army, Air and its going to be very hot.”Force and Special Forces snipers in17 events. “This is an outstandingaccomplishment for part time Pfc . JacobNational Guard Soldiers who do S h o e m a ke rnot get much trigger time HHC 210 MP Battalionthroughout the year,” said Lt. Col.Alan Ornoski, commander or1-109th CAB. “These two “I think higher security will beoutstanding NCOs trained very needed in Kuwait with the Iraqhard focusing on their physical pullout happening. So we need tofitness. They shot extremely well treat this as any otherand were consistently in 3rd or 4th deployment, like Iraq orplace the entire competition.” Afghanistan.” The team lost 100 points on thelast event. The object of the lastevent was to evaluate a target anddecide not to take the shot. Both Pvt. L in dse ysnipers debated but agreed that it Romanowas a sniper compaction and they A Co 55th BSTBshould take the shot. Eleven otherteams made the same mistake. “I think there will be a lot of “I am confident of their abilitiesand with this competition under excitement and anxiety,their belt, they will place much especially for those of us whohigher in future events,” said have not deployed or been toOrnoski. that part of the world before.”
MISSING FAMILIES IN READINESS GROUPSCapt Keith Hickox mean something to the Soldier, you FRG CAN PROVIDE It has been said many times before should belong to the FRG,” saidthat behind every great man is a great Ranaudo. 1. INFORMATIONwoman. Often it is turned around to For many, the ‘family’ aspect refers tosay behind every great woman is a great the ‘Army family’. Christina Salisbury is 2. CAMARADERIEman. I am going to take it two steps the president of B Company, 55th 3. EMOTIONAL SUPPORTfurther and say, behind every great Brigade Support Battalion’s FRG. It is aSoldier is a great family — parents, relatively new but thriving FRG within 4. CONNECTIONSspouses, kids, the whole nine yards. our brigade. She said FRG is a very 5. SOCIAL OUTINGS Family Readiness Groups (FRGs) diverse community and everyone bringshave existed for many years in the Army to the table their needs, abilities, talents 6. FINANCIAL SUPPORTNational Guard. By regulation, there and contacts. 7. EXTENDED FAMILYshould be one for every company. “If you are immediate family, distantHowever, you can always ﬁnd units with relatives, friends, or neighbors with a 8. UNIT SUPPORTFRGs that are barely attended or even Soldier we welcome you to join thenon-existent. 9. HOLIDAY PARTIES FRG,” said Salisbury. “The company Why is this? The companies are full Soldiers are just as vital. They are the 10. PIECE OF MINDof Soldiers. I’m certain most, if not all, of ones who encourage their families andthe Soldiers have family members of friends to join the FRG and become involved.” interested in. Another reason to be asome sort. In my opinion, FRGs can get member is to have input and a voice ineverything they need to help families, One turn-off for some who have had what goes on,” said Salisbury. “Ourexcept families. past experience in an FRG are the stiff plans for the future also include a There are several popular theories regulations that you ﬁnd in every formal dinner and events focused onthat may explain why family members military organization. Is it possible to the kids. Other ideas, particularly duringdon’t participate in their FRG. By far the complete the mission of the FRG deployment, are a ‘Pamper Yourself’greatest misconception is that the FRG without its volunteers feeling day, and play-dates at local parks.”is designed for Soldiers’ spouses and overwhelmed? And what about the volunteermore speciﬁcally wives. “Yes, I’m sure the regulations can be ofﬁcers that run the FRGs? Historically, Kevin George is a Family Readiness challenging at times, and that is why we they seem to always be the wife of theSupport Assistant (FRSA) who covers h ave F a m i ly R e a d i n e s s S u p p o r t company commander or one of thethe western part of our brigade area. Assistants assigned to each of the major other ofﬁcers or senior non-He disagrees with this assumption. Not c o m m a n d s a n d j o i n t f o r c e commissioned ofﬁcers. Does the highall Soldiers have a spouse. Soldiers’ headquarters,” said George. “The FRSA rank of the Soldier really translate intofamilies stretch far beyond spouses and supports and trains the FRG leadership, a high FRG position for the spouse?so should their FRG. unit’s commander and the family liaison assistant.” An FRG leader should want the “The FRG and leadership positions position and must be elected into theare available to all associated with the Some FRGs, like in B Company 55th position, not just be put in the position. Soldier and their unit. FRG leaders can Brigade Special Troops Battalion, are “The best person for any job is the onebe spouses, parents, siblings, and newly established and are still trying to who really wants it,” said Ranaudo.grandparents of the Soldier, and also develop more fun events along with “Any individual that is positive,retirees of the PA Guard,” said George. their support activities. outgoing, has leadership skills and loves Sherry Ranaudo is another FRSA “We have annual picnics and their Soldier, Guard and country makescovering the eastern part of our brigade Christmas parties. We also have a ﬁne FRG president,” said George.area, and feels that FRGs are for anyone meetings with professional consultants discussing topics members are see FAMILY page 5...in the circle of the Soldier’s life. “If you
www.facebook.com/55HBCT ALCOHOL, A POOR DECISION MULTIPLIER Beware of the Slippery Slope Command Sgt. Maj. Wade Heilman FOLLOW 55th HBCT Sharing a few drinks can be a driving, they also decided not to ON FACEBOOK great social activity. However, each obey the speed limit. The driver lost drink can make you more control of the car and rolled it. Two vulnerable to making poor occupants ended up in the hospital www.facebook.com/55HBCT decisions. and the other two ended up in jail. One bad decision could cost Too many times I have heard an someone their career or even their excuse that sounded like, “Its not life. Often, poor decisions don’t my fault, I was drunk.” I don’tFAMILY... cont, page 4 stop with one, but continue know about you, but I would not “If you live in Pennsylvania and your spiraling downward to a very accept that excuse from my spouse,Soldiers unit is in Arizona, ﬁnd a local sobering and sometimes tragic a friend or a coworker. I would also thud at the bottom. never use that as an excuse for myFRG to join for support and own actions.information,” said Salisbury. While a brigade unit was Still, there are some who believe the conducting annual training an It is really this simple: beforereason why people don’t join their FRG unfortunate example of this point you drink, make a plan. Decide was made. what you are doing to do and whatis much simpler. “Probably the numberone reason why people do not you are not going to do. Don’t let While the battalion grantedvolunteer or participate in the FRG is friends pull you away from the plan Soldiers permission to drink, they that you know it right. Lastly,that they are too busy with the restricted the Soldiers’ activities todemands of job and family. Also, it could police your buddies. If you see post. Four Soldiers, who werebe the perception that the FRG is just a someone who may be sliding down drinking heavily, decided to not that bad slope, stop them beforeladies club for fund raising, or maybe — only violate one policy but two. something worse does.commanders, pay attention — no one They drove off post while allasked them to join or become a leader,” four were intoxicated. Whilesaid George. The biggest advantage to having a Where will it lead you?strong FRG is keeping families ready atall times throughout the deploymentcycle. A family that is ready andsupported allows their Soldier to focus Excessive drinkingon the mission at hand, thereby makingtheir unit’s overall mission a success. ! Violating policy Support, education, understanding and ! ! Driving drunkstrength. Your FRG is out there with a ! ! ! Excessive Speedgreat purpose and a great support staff. ! ! ! ! Serious Injury As many of our Soldiers are preparing ! ! ! ! ! Incarcerationto deploy to Kuwait, I call for allSoldiers and those who hold them dear ! ! ! ! ! ! Reductionto reach out and participate in your ! ! ! ! ! ! ! DischargeFRG.