OTF Soldier Story for February 21, 2011 - Sgt. Reed Webber
Current Unit: 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade
Current Position: Intelligence Analyst and Company Intelligence Support Team Liaison Officer
Component: Arizona National Guard
Current Location: Phoenix, Ariz.
Hometown: Peoria, Ariz.
Years of Service: 18
With an ever-changing enemy and battlefield, military intelligence plays a key role in ensuring the success of the mission. As military intelligence Soldiers gather information on enemy activities, assess risks and establish the appropriate counterattacks, they are forced to make vital decisions that protect the lives of their fellow Soldiers.
Last July, Sgt. Reed Webber’s training and instincts were put to the test when enemy insurgents attacked his forward operating base with indirect fire. Located in one of the most hostile areas of Afghanistan, the unit had already experienced more than 65 interactions with enemy insurgents during their first five months. On that day, however, Webber reacted swiftly and immediately began gathering intelligence on enemy positions in order to strategically return fire and eliminate the threat.
In the midst of protecting his fellow Soldiers, Webber was wounded and received a Purple Heart for his injuries. Yet recounting that day, Webber knows he did what any other Soldier would have done to serve their brothers in arms.
“I still feel that what we were doing had to be done during the indirect fire attack. It was a group effort,” he said, recalling the incident. “I didn’t want to see anyone else get hurt.”
Webber felt a close bond with his comrades, even though he deployed as an individual augmentee. Given his military intelligence expertise, the Arizona National Guardsman was asked to serve alongside the Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry (Mountain) Regiment, a component of the Connecticut National Guard.
“The thought of deploying by yourself is a little bit daunting. But once you get there, it’s not as bad as you thought. Before too long, you get settled into a routine with your newly formed unit; they become your family,” he said.
Prior to serving in Afghanistan, Webber deployed to Iraq in October 2004 with the Arizona National Guard. Throughout his deployment, he was responsible for providing convoy escort support for the 180th Field Artillery Regiment in Kuwait.
”My first deployment helped prepare me in some regards for my second, particularly when it came to leaving my family again,” he said. “But the two missions were completely different. In Afghanistan, I was stationed with infantry in a much more hostile environment and had more exposure to firefights.”
Although he is eligible to retire in a few years, Webber has no plans to leave the Arizona National Guard anytime soon, and he recently renewed his contract to serve for four more years. With his renewed commitment to the military, he hopes to centralize training for all of the state’s intelligence analysts.
“I always loved the Army and felt an overpowering sense of duty to my country, my neighbors and my family,” he said. “I started to bug Army recruiters from the time I was about 12, and I finally enlisted in the National Guard right after I turned 17. I went to basic training the summer before my senior year of high school.”
Webber lives with his wife and son in Peoria, Ariz. When he is not serving in uniform, Webber works as a project manager for the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs. He also acts as chairman of the Peoria Veteran’s Memorial Board, an appointed commission established by the city to assist the city council in recognizing the needs of local veterans.
While Webber was in Afghanistan, his wife assumed his duties as chairman of the Memorial Board, as well as maintaining the household.
“The true heroes of these deployments are the spouses that the soldiers leave behind. My wife gave up her career as a federal employee to support her husband and family during two combat deployments. She served as chief financial officer, unlicensed mental therapist, teacher, house-mom, maid, child-wrangler and pet-wrangler,” Webber said.