By Kim GillespieDecember 7, 2016
Maj. Erich Roberts has some valuable insights to share with his teammates at the Office of the Program Manager for the Saudi Arabian National Guard (OPM-SANG) regarding the importance of their day-to-day jobs.
"Your successes today are the product of a person's efforts three to five years ago," the program manager's (PM's, Brig. Gen. Frank Muth's) executive officer stated. "Your hard work today will guarantee the success of the leader filling your role in the future. Guarantee the program's future success by doing a great job today."
A self-described optimistic, Roberts plays a crucial role for OPM-SANG--synchronization.
"I synchronize the PM's tasks and priorities with the (OPM-SANG) divisions," Roberts said. "I ensure the details get done…I consolidate the collective progress of the organization and feed reports to our higher headquarters."
He also handles everything from visitors and protocol, to overseeing contractors who provide the facilities support at the headquarters building.
While relatively new to OPM-SANG's Command Group (he was selected by Muth to be his Executive Officer this summer), Roberts is a "people" person and uses his positive energy to make sure everyone gets what they need--especially information.
"I find myself along the seam of helping others turn assumptions into facts," he stated.
The need for synchronization is critical to the OPM-SANG's mission of modernizing the Saudi's Ministry of the National Guard, which in turn, assists the U.S. military with regional security. Roberts breaks down the importance of OPM-SANG's mission into three categories: tactical, operational and strategic.
"Tactically, we're providing the SANG subject matter expertise across all Army functions, saving the SANG decades of hard lessons learned and allowing rapid modernization," he said.
Operationally, he views OPM-SANG's efforts as building regional stability. Strategically, he feels the United States is sending a message by standing with a key ally.
"When (the U.S. government and military) keeps its promises to our partners, we are sending a good strategic message. Other countries do care what we are involved in and are watching to see if we will fulfill our promises," he explained.
The mission of security assistance and foreign military sales that Roberts now supports at OPM-SANG was not something unfamiliar. He says everything the Army has done in the past decade, whether it be fighting insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan, is about providing security assistance and working with international partners.
"The fight against global terror relies on regionally aligned security assistance," he emphasized.
Roberts also emphasizes trust as being the key to success--whether it be with international partners, or with leadership.
"Sometimes I may not understand why decisions are made, but I trust those (leaders) making them and do what needs to be done," he added.
He works to build trust with those he works with through constant communication.
"Some people prefer we communicate through e-mail and some by phone. But a lot of what is done here is face-to-face. This is a relatively small organization, so that makes seeing it each other a lot easier."
Capt. Joe Davis Prince, the battalion advisor for the Saad Abdulrahman Mechanized Brigade, works closely with Roberts and is one of the many personnel at OPM-SANG who prefers to visits him in person to discuss issues. Davis described Robert's role as, "Providing us the PM's guidance and getting into the details."
Despite his aversion to acronyms, Roberts finds the Army the perfect fit for his personality and values.
"I did not plan to go into the military. A high school counselor suggested I apply to a military academy," he stated.
He credits Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson with having the biggest impact on his military career because she worked the recommendation for him that go to West Point.
"If I was not in the Army, I might have ended up being an engineer," he said.
So Roberts' gift for details are being used daily to further increase the effectiveness of the mission at OPM-SANG. He celebrates the small, day-to-day things, such as accomplishing the PM's tasks, or helping his wife by fixing her car. And what is the secret to his daily achievements?
"I don't always succeed, but I genuinely care," Roberts said.