By Spc. Shawn Denham, 35th Air Defense Artillery Bde. PAOMay 16, 2013
OSAN AIR BASE -- Arriving to South Korea can be a challenging situation for incoming Soldiers, but the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade is working hard to streamline the process. Soldiers transitioning to the 35th ADA received special attention from "Sponsorship Coordinators" at Osan Air Base, May 14. These dedicated sponsorship staff communicate with the incoming Soldiers to help ease the transition process, said Sgt. Austin White, one of the unit sponsorship coordinators.
"Sponsorship coordinators get the Soldiers set up with a sponsor and meet them when they arrive," said White. "This whole program is to make sure they have everything they need before they get here." These sponsors are Soldiers specifically chosen and trained to show new Soldiers their way around to eliminate confusion, White added. "Sponsors are important because they help the Soldiers get a grasp of what's going on in their area," said White.
Transitioning begins when Soldiers receive their orders to a new location. From the very beginning, the sponsorship coordinators make contact with the new Soldiers and work to provide a positive experience. The transition has been pretty easy, according to Spc. Andrew Bone, a newly-arrived 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment Soldier.
One benefit of the sponsorship coordination program is that new Soldier moves are made predictable. "This is my first time in Korea," said Sgt. Robert Smith, who is going to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 35th ADA. "I knew where I was going before I got here." In his last move, to Fort Bragg, Smith said he only learned what his new unit would be after he had reported.
Upon arrival here, new Soldiers are greeted and briefed by a sponsorship coordinator. From there, it is a 30 minute bus ride to Suwon Air Base to attend the "Iron Horse Integration Course," named for the 6-52 Iron Horse Regiment. The IHIC is a two-week course that all Soldiers (staff sergeant and below) go through to ensure their medical status, driver's training, physical fitness test and other mission-essential requirements are fulfilled before they report to their actual jobs, added White.
"The program has been very productive," said White. "I'm tracking close to 500 Soldiers who have gone through the process this year and I expect to see about 300 more come through before the end of the year."