Friday, November 30, 2007

Battlefield Circulation—Streamlined

A few weeks ago our battalion Command Sergeant Major, CSM Sumner (pictured above and below), and I came up with a plan to maximize Soldier care. Both he and the battalion commander, LTC Silverman, have a Personal Security Detail (PSD): three, uparmored gun trucks, each with a three-man crew of driver, gunner, and commander. The commander's mission--in a nutshell--is to oversee the big-picture aspects of missions and to provide needed guidance to his company commanders. The Sergeant Major's mission is more Soldier-oriented; he ensures standards are maintained and helps his first sergeants see to the care of their Soldiers. Since the Sergeant Major's mission and mine are both Soldier care, we have been experimenting with a plan to work together. The companies in our battalion are spread to the four corners of our brigade's very large area of operations. Having the opportunity to travel with the Sergeant Major's PSD allows Sergeant Tremain and me to see each of the more than 800 Soldiers in our battalion once a week. Each day we leave our camp in the morning, spend the day at the outposts with Soldiers and their leaders providing worship services, counseling, and spirited debate about college football, and then we return to the camp in the evening. The next day we do it all over again for the Soldiers of a different company. Before, I used to stay the night with the Soldiers, but I could not circulate as often, and it would be much more tiring. I would have to take every third week to catch up with the Soldiers back here at Camp Blue Diamond. Now, we work just as hard--if not more so--but it is so much more efficient.

On our way to visit the Soldiers of Alpha company at JSS Sedgwick this week we swung by Camp Ramadi and picked up my good friends Captain Bolton and Staff Sergeant Moore of our brigade mental health team. When it comes to issues such as grief and depression, we also work closely in caring for Soldiers. They joined us for worship service. Afterwards, while I met with a few Soldiers dealing with marriage and family issues, they were able to follow up with a few Soldiers who had previously gone to Camp Ramadi for their assistance.

Among the events of the day, was the promotion of Staff Sergeant Kelly to the rank of Sergeant First Class. He had long since been serving in the capacity of platoon sergeant (a position associated with the rank of sergeant first class) so the joke was he would now finally be paid for the job he was already doing. As mentioned in a recent post, SFC Kelly is a fine leader. His Soldiers respect his matter-of-fact take on life in combat. After CSM Sumner and CPT Ralls replaced his SSG rank with that of SFC, and everyone insisted on a speech, he started off with: "As you know, I'm not very smart . . . " he went on to explain that if he could succeed, he was confident his Soldiers could too.
On our return to Camp Blue Diamond that late afternoon, we opted to leave the IED-pothole-riddled road for a more direct and safe route, providing us a modest off-road opportunity for exploration. It was a memorable day all around.


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