First Team commander engages unit command teams
June 30, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas - The 1st Cavalry Division commander hosted a luncheon with the battalion command teams throughout the division at Club Hood June 23 to discuss his top priorities.
Division Commander Brig. Gen. Michael Bills said he met with the commanders and command sergeants major as a way to provide guidance and to see how things are going in the various battalion formations.
Bills spoke of his priorities, as well as reiterating III Corps and U.S. Army Forces Command priorities. One of the priorities Bills discussed during the meeting was unit sponsorship.
Changes to the unit sponsorship program are intended to provide a better relationship between leaders, incoming personnel and the unit, Bills said.
"We need to ensure we are establishing contact with all incoming personnel," Bills said to the command teams. "When we properly welcome new Soldiers, we're providing them a smooth transition to Fort Hood."
Bills noted that Soldiers receive their overall impression of the unit within their first week assigned to it.
The sponsorship program requires units to appoint a sponsor to all incoming personnel. Aside from helping integrate the new Soldiers to the unit, the sponsors will have to complete training to ensure they know what the do's and don'ts of the program are.
Other topics discussed during the luncheon included Soldiers' medical readiness, proper maintenance management of the unit's property, and enhancing the unit's overall physical fitness program.
The overall theme of the luncheon focused on unit and Soldier readiness - down to Soldiers' behavior on and off duty.
"Changes to the way we monitor Soldiers' behavior is very important," said Lt. Col. Kurt Ritterpusch, the division provost marshal. "That requires commanders to be involved and engaged, maybe a lot more than they've had to in the last 10 years."
Ritterpusch said training focus has shifted from getting ready to go to war to training to maintain readiness to go to war.
"The standards have to elevate a lot higher to maintain a long-term level of readiness rather than a readiness that peaks right before you go to war," he said.
Currently, the division has Soldiers deployed to various places around the world to include Afghanistan, Korea and the Sinai Peninsula. Leaders discussed the importance of their Soldier's physical and mental readiness, and how to ensure any issues do not go overlooked in their formations in that regard.
"I think the topics are certainly nested with overall readiness, whether you're in a unit that's going forward or a unit that's staying here," said Lt. Col. Jonathan Velishka, commander of 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Field Artillery Brigade, 1st Cav. Div.
Velishka said the luncheon provided valuable information to command teams on ways to handle different issues within their units.
"The meeting allowed us to receive guidance and solutions at the same time," he said.
This was the first luncheon Bills has had with all of the battalion command teams in the division. Although he is headed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, he said he will continue the meetings from afar in order to continue providing guidance and mentorship first hand.