Task Force Viper
December 9, 2011
First, I want to say thanks for the tremendous amount support from the families. The packages continue to roll in and it's great to see Soldiers' faces when they find out they have mail. The J1 shop is gearing up for the big holiday surge in packages -- yesterday the bus carrying mail was so full that they barely had room for a passenger. We will probably all gain a few pounds from the extra sweets -- not to worry, as we all do a lot of extra walking each day just to get around the forward operating base (FOB).
Amenities continue to get better: all of the Soldiers are now in permanent rooms, and both Burger King and Pizza Hut are open on our FOB -- thanks to Specialist Turnbow and Sergeant Potter, who both volunteered their time to assist in the final set up of these establishments. The Thanksgiving meal was very, very good, and the chaplain's outfit was a "hoot" … or maybe a "gobble" in this case. We are now looking forward to a great Christmas meal, which is just around the corner.
We recently promoted 2nd Lt. Guerrero to first lieutenant, and we held our first promotion board this week. The word is, all did very well, so we should hopefully see a few more promotions soon. We just held our first big morale event at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Center here on the FOB, and it went very well. Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) was responsible for planning and set-up and did a terrific job. The food was great and there were lots of sporting events to participate in -- truly something for everyone.
The Soldiers are do-ing outstanding and truly get better at their jobs each and every day. I'm very proud of their performance and its obvious our hard training has paid off. Thanks again for your continued support from the home front!
Victory through Intelligence!
Command Sergeant Major's Comments
The Soldiers of the battalion have readily adapted to their new surroundings on the FOB. All are actively engaged in their individual duties and have already made a positive impact on the mission in just a short period of time. This initial drive and intensity has served them well thus far and will, no doubt, propel them to even bigger and better accomplishments as we progress through the deployment. In the meantime, the pace of operations is fast enough to dull the acute sense of absence that might otherwise fill the void during this upcoming holiday season.
Letters and phone calls of support and encouragement from friends and family back home are the single most important contribution to the mission over which the Soldiers have no control. Your continued support will ensure that each and every Soldier maintains the focus necessary to overcome the challenges of the daily grind ... a condition commonly referred to as Groundhog Day. It is still early enough in the deployment that spirits are high despite the prospect of a pro-longed separation from those we left behind and the sense of normalcy that comes with it.
Leaders at every level are constantly on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary. Take comfort in knowing that your Soldier is a valued member of this organization and will be well cared for throughout the deployment. We have assembled a great team and have every expectation that at the end of the road, we will depart just as we arrived ... as quiet professionals intent on making a difference.
HHC Commander's Comments
I hope this newsletter finds all of our families and friends in good health -- especially over the holidays. I'm honored to be in command and I'm grateful for the opportunity to lead such professional men and women.
So far our deployment has been going smoothly. We have a lot of great Soldiers doing a fantastic job. Every one of our Soldiers works hard to make sure we accomplish our mission, and every day our Soldiers are setting the bar higher.
This Thanksgiving our dining facility did an outstanding job preparing dinner for all of the Soldiers here on the FOB. They prepared turkey, ham and roast beef. Our Soldiers had access to free phone calls home the entire day, and we were all able to take some time to relax and reflect on everything in our lives that we're grateful for.
HHC has the mission of supporting the operations of the battalion, and we do this very well. Our mechanics take pride in ensuring that every vehicle we have is fully mission capable. Additionally, they've taken it upon themselves to provide working generators, new and more functional work areas, and have helped to establish a new deck which we'll utilize as a morale center for the battalion.
Our orderlies have really made operations run smoothly. Daily, they coordinate for personnel to move from tents to housing units, keep track of outgoing personnel, receive new incoming personnel, and manage movement in and around the FOB.
On Dec. 2 we had a Battalion Fun Day where Soldiers will be able to participate in basketball, volleyball, pingpong, billiards and poker. It was a great day to have some fun and take time to relax.
Thank you for all of your support. We would not be able to function without the support of our families and friends. The letters and care packages that we receive really keep our spirits up and remind us that we have loved ones waiting at home for our return.
HHC First Sergeant's Comments
Families and friends, I hope all is well back in beautiful San Antonio. I am honored to let everyone know that your husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers are all, as ex-pected, setting and exceeding the standards.
The past month our HHC Soldiers have set up support operations for the battalion without a hitch. Let me highlight accomplishments by each section:
J1 has spent numerous hours building and constructing the battalion mailroom to ensure the morale is kept at a high level. Who would have thought Lieutenant Guerrero, Corporal Cassiano and Sergeant Carreon were great carpenters! And congratulations to Lieutenant Guerrero on his promotion.
J3 has taken control and set the standard with the daily operations for the battalion -- no small task after working long hours to keep the organization synchronized. They are truly the heartbeat of the battalion.
J4/Maintenance has been essential in the procurement of all supplies for the unit. Lieutenant Turner, Sergeant Cooperstein, Sergeant Gause, Specialist Mobley and Specialist Burr have ensured that all personnel have what is needed to complete their mission. Seregant Potter and Specialist Turnbow went above and beyond to get transportation requirements handled without issues. Just when you think our Soldiers can't do anymore, these personnel make something else happen.
J6 with Captain Sallis, Sergeant Cumberlander, Sergeant Reid and Specialist Lace have taken the J6 shop to a new level, learning and implementing new communication methods to assist the battalion in being as effective as can be. Congratulations to Sergeant Cumberlander for his reenlistment and his continued service to our country.
In the HHC orderly room, Captain Nowak, Sergeant Bush, Sergeant Marshall and Specialist Williams are truly the backbone, ensuring living arrangements for the battalion have been exceptional. Whether in RLBs or tents, they have ensured 100 percent comfort.
We miss you and thank you for your support.
Hello and happy holidays from the J6 (formerly known as the S6) shop. We received a warm welcome from the outgoing unit and immediately took on our duties. The Soldiers of the J6 were excited to finally be able to run their own networks. We have a help desk staff of 10 and are comprised of Army, Navy and Air Force personnel.
We service more than 300 users and manage more than 700 user accounts. Some of our duties include creating user email accounts, installing new computer systems, maintaining computer systems, running virus scans, recording video, installing phones, maintaining server racks … the list goes on and on.
Much of what we do here requires on-the-job training and practical application that was difficult to replicate in the rear, but I am extremely proud to say that we have continued providing the high quality of service our users have grown accustomed to. Every day we are learning new ways to improve our systems. Issues have come about that none of us have experienced before and required everyone available to find the solutions, but with each issue, we gain a new confidence that only experience can provide. In the coming months, many of us will be studying for technical certifications while the information is fresh and readily available.
We wish you all well and want you to know that we are in high spirits de-spite being away from our loved ones. Have a wonderful holiday season.
Greetings and happy holidays to everyone back home!
Our team hit the ground running and took over the J1 shop with many more duties and responsibilities than back in the rear. Now we are responsible for the accountability and administrative actions of well over double the personnel and from all different services. We have set up and implemented a mail room system that ensures everything from letters to packages is safely and accurately delivered to your loved ones … just in time for the holidays.
On a side note, it brings me pleasure to inform you that our shop has implemented a "no low-morale" atmosphere. This includes blasting either Tejano, Salsa or Country music; pushups every hour on the hour; and taking time to enjoy a coffee or latte together as a shop. This is our way of staying mentally and physically fit throughout our time away from the ones we love.
I speak for our shop when I say that we miss and love our families and friends and until we return, we will continue to excel at our careers and will continue to make you all proud. Happy holidays from Seaman Dalton, Specialist Acla, Corporal Casiano, Corporal Pate, Sergeant Carreon, Sergeant Panuvong and Lieutenant Guerrero!
Alpha Company Commander's Comments
Hey, everybody! It has been a long and busy journey, but we are finally getting settled here. The biggest thing on the Soldiers' minds is finally moving out of the tents and into their permanent rooms. And as of this week, we are now all assigned a room.
Life on the FOB is pretty good. There is even a dining facility that serves only barbecue. We have our own two-story gym, which keeps most of us busy during our downtime. The post exchange is small, but the trip over to the main PX is a short one. Considering most Soldiers' living conditions in country, we consider ourselves lucky.
We have had two promotions since we have been here. Chief Clemit was promoted to chief warrant officer 3, and Private Long was promoted to private 2. Both have been doing great things and very much deserved their promotions.
In the upcoming days we will be focused on getting settled in our rooms and preparing for the holiday season. We appreciate all of the support our Family Readiness Group and families have been giving us over here. Your support is what gets us through every day.
PERFORMER OF THE MONTH
This month's top performer is Sgt. 1st Class Roderico Balagtas. Currently, he is the acting executive officer and operations officer of the company. His hard work and positive attitude is an example for all Soldiers to follow. Congratulations.
Alpha Company First Sergeant's Comments
Hello to everyone back there. I would like to thank everyone for the support that they have given so far and for the support that will be given in the future.
The Soldiers are starting to settle and into a rhythm now that the outgoing has left. The Soldiers didn't have any issues transitioning into their jobs and hit the ground running. The relief in place went very smoothly, and the outgoing unit did a great job of helping our Soldier's with the turnover.
Now that the outgoing units are leaving, a lot of the congestion on the camp is going away and the facilities aren't so crowded. The mail service is pretty fast, depending on what priority it is sent; packages are arriving between five and 10 days, which is great and always helps with morale. The internet is available for purchase if the Soldiers don't want to go to the MWR. It's not the fastest, but it's better than nothing, and quite a few Soldiers are taking advantage of it to keep in touch with loved ones.
Thanks again for the support. You really do not know how much it means to all the Soldiers. It is what fuels them and keeps them going when they start missing all their loved ones back home. Thank you for all you do!
Brvao Company Commander's Comments
MWR coordinates several different kinds of activities to keep Soldiers occupied when not at work during the deployment. There are opportunities to participate in karaoke, poker nights, aikido and Brazilian jiu-jiutsu. Here on the FOB we get to try something new: archery. I've gone through many deployments, but never seen an opportunity to practice archery skills until now.
Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat, so what could be better suited for a combat zone than archery? Bows and arrows might not be the number one weapon of choice these days, however, it is a great leisure activity and a stress relief.
Sailors from Task Force Trident offer the opportunity to practice archery skills. They provide a short archery lesson, and all the equipment for anyone who wants to test his/her skills in hopes of becoming the new William Tell of the unit.
Some Bravo Company Soldiers decided to put their M9s and M16s aside and face this new challenge. We had experienced Soldiers as well as beginners trying to aim and hit the target. Proper technique is important when pursuing archery, and everybody seemed to master the basic techniques. "With a great amount of dedication, patience, and practice we can accomplish anything," goes a long way also when it comes to archery.
Sandbags, which played the role of targets, felt the sharp tip of the arrow more and more as time went by. Even the little red apple that was meant for the more experienced archers got to feel the expertise of the Bravo Company Soldiers. Everybody became more proficient during the practice, but it was not all about hitting the bull's-eye. Soldiers seemed to enjoy this experience and had big smiles on their faces, no matter where the arrow traveled. "Yeah, this is cool, I want to do this again," was the comment that convinced me of this; a Soldier is a Soldier no matter what weapon they are given.