By Staff Sgt. Isolda ReyesDecember 3, 2017
TAJI MILITARY COMPLEX, Iraq - The 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, visited with Soldiers from the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade at Taji Military Complex, Iraq, Nov. 25.
Lengyel received a briefing from the 29th CAB commander, Col. Mark Beckler, and brigade staff officers about the Army aviation mission in Operation Inherent Resolve. Beckler noted that 29th CAB is the only aviation brigade supporting Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve.
Lengyel expressed interest in the CAB mission as 29th CAB prepares to hand over their missions to the incoming 449th CAB, which is moving into Kuwait and Iraq now.
"I want to be able to understand the issues so I can advocate what's best for the mission," said Lengyel.
Following his meeting with other National Guard units at Taji, Lengyel and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Kepner, the 11th command sergeant major of the Army National Guard, enjoyed lunch with a selection of Airmen and Soldiers during which he emphasized his role with Soldiers' life in the National Guard.
Lengyel stated that his top three concerns are Soldiers and making sure they receive the right training, while ensuring National Guard personnel receive the right opportunities for their careers and families.
Soldiers followed up with questions that ranged from keeping an Apache fleet in the National Guard, operational support and personnel questions, including allowing National Guard Soldiers access to Tricare even if they are Federal Government employees.
Lengyel expressed how important it is to bring these issues to the command's attention because Soldiers and Airmen are at the forefront and they matter the most, because Soldiers are not easy to acquire and the organization thrives off of retention.
"I will follow up on each of these questions," said Lengyel.
The Soldiers present at the luncheon appreciated the general's and command sergeant major's candid responses and conversation.
"They were both very personal with the soldiers," said Spc. Jacqueline Schultz, an aviation operations specialist.
Other Soldiers echoed this appreciation and stated how much Lengyel made them feel at ease by telling them how appreciative he is for all of them as they all are willing serve the nation - a characteristic that not everyone possesses.
"Hearing this from the chief of the National Guard Bureau made me feel special and was extremely motivating," said Schultz.