By Col. Jack HaefnerSeptember 25, 2014
CAMP RED CLOUD -- Although the hills and hiking paths of Area I are still green with summer's foliage, the fall has arrived and with it we're ready for exciting new changes in Warrior Country.
Many new faces have joined us during the big summer PCS season. Some arrived in time for Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which ranks among the most important annual military exercises we conduct in partnership with our Korean ally.
Those new arrivals got an early immersion in the "Ready to Fight Tonight" culture of our ROK-U.S. military alliance. And that will stand them in good stead as their Korea tours progress.
They were also in time to see our Korean friends observe one of their most important national holidays -- Chuseok, also known as "Korean Thanksgiving."
Each autumn, Koreans take to the highways in the hallowed ritual of visiting parents and in-laws for Chuseok. Korea's roads and rail networks are thick with holiday travelers, many of whom go from one end of Korea to the other to be with relatives.
Being here during Chuseok can give our Soldiers and civilians additional insights into the culture of our host-nation. And the more we know of our Korean hosts and allies, the better equipped we are to be their good neighbors as well as their partners in the defense of the peninsula.
One of the most exciting changes this fall is just around the corner: the departure of a combat unit that served a nine-month rotation in Warrior Country, and its replacement by a similar unit.
The 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment arrived in Korea last February. Part of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, it's been on a nine-month Korea rotation with the 2nd Infantry Division.
Its Soldiers moved into facilities our garrison renovated for them at Camp Stanley and Camp Hovey.
During their rotation we got to know them and see their pride and proficiency and the great leadership of their commander, Lt. Col. Arthur W. Sellers, and Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald J. Graves, their senior enlisted leader.
I thank the Soldiers of the 1-12 Cavalry for their hard work and cooperation. Although we'll miss having them as part of our Warrior Country community, we're glad for the time they were with us.
Replacing the 1-12 will be the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, also a 1st Cavalry Division unit out of Fort Hood.
I'm super-excited that they'll be with us, and our garrison is eager for them to make use of the training venues and other support we have waiting for them.
Their rotation with the Warrior Division isn't only valuable training for them; it's also important for us at U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I.
Because it will help us further refine the methods we bring to bear in carrying out our number one mission: supporting the 2nd Infantry Division and other tenant units with what they need to stay ready for their wartime role.
If anything, our experience working with the 3-8 Cav carries added importance because the skills we hone in supporting them will make us that much better able to continue that support for the units that rotate in after them.
Being the garrison that gets to play such a central support role for these rotations is a pivotal responsibility. And we're eager to do all we can to make the 3-8 Cav's rotation here an across-the-board success.
While I'm on the subject of our new arrivals, I don't want to miss a chance to remind all members of our Warrior Country community of the amazing and varied recreational opportunities available here in Area I.
For starters, our region, North Gyeonggi Province, is known for its fresh air, mountain landscapes, and quality hiking.
But along with that is the robust array of tours, programs and facilities of our garrison's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. These add greatly to the quality of life of our Soldiers, civilians and family members.
Of special note are the tours that take you to Korea's DMZ, an experience you shouldn't miss. FMWR lists these and many other opportunities in its In The Zone magazine and they're also listed on our Area I Facebook page.
And of course there are Area I's fitness centers, libraries, and organized sports like the highly popular flag football whose season opened this month.
Sports, outings and other recreation aren't just fun, they're a potent means of building emotional and psychological resilience among our Soldiers and civilians. And with September being National Suicide Prevention Month this is an especially good time to highlight the importance of staying resilient.
Remember the responsibility each of us has to watch out for the other, and be ready to step in with firm, friendly and prompt concern if you think someone around you may be on the brink of a bad turn. "Be a battle buddy, save a life."
Your resilience is of highest importance to our garrison, as is your safety. Mentioning this is timely because September is also National Preparedness Month, its slogan, "Be Disaster Aware. Take Action To Prepare." Our garrison is vigilant year round in anticipating hazards and taking action to meet them. This applies to seasonal hazards, including those of cold weather, which is not all that far off.
As part of that vigilance, we're already gearing up to deal with snow and ice and ensure that when winter hits, our roads and walkways are kept safe and passable.
Meanwhile, always, our garrison continues its focus on keeping our installations well protected, and on doing all we can to support leaders at all levels in keeping their Soldiers trained, resilient, and Ready to Fight Tonight.