By Kim GillespieFebruary 3, 2017
The opportunity to advise and assist our Saudi Arabian Ministry of the National Guard counterparts, help expand its capabilities and take care of U.S. Soldiers was an assignment Sgt. Maj. Marc Stevenson, Office of the Program Manager for the Saudi Arabian National Guard's sergeant major, could not pass up.
Stevenson arrived at OPM-SANG in November and began assessing "what the organization's strengths and weaknesses are, so I can begin tapping into those."
His previous assignment was overseeing the Virginia Tech ROTC program. And while he loved teaching and mentoring future officers, Stevenson stresses the importance of OPM-SANG's mission to national security.
"The effort here has an impact at the strategic level," he said. "The fight is here --not in the U.S."
Stevenson believes his previous assignments have prepared him well for his current position. He previously served with the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault, 2nd Brigade, advising and assisting the Afghanistan military. And teaching and mentoring future Soldiers is similar to the role OPM-SANG members play in assisting with the modernization of the Ministry of the National Guard.
Stevenson provided an example of the impact OPM-SANG's Health Affairs Division has had on SANG's combat life support. "The survival rate for their injured has increased dramatically with the modernization of their medical capacity," he said. "This means it improves their fighting capability."
Stevenson had high praise for the work done by other OPM-SANG divisions, which includes Maneuver, Aviation, and Support and Sustainment. "SANG has stood up an entire aviation brigade with our (OPM-SANG's) Aviation Division's advice and assistance. We are able to share our lessons learned ranging from combat and training, to technology and sustainment," he said.
According to Stevenson, the breadth of OPM-SANG's mission means they are "always looking for quality Soldiers and civilians." He also emphasized that the role OPM-SANG members play is more than just knowledge-based, "it's about trust, it's about relationships." Stevenson hopes that outstanding Army people seeking a challenge will consider seeking positions at OPM-SANG.
"I thought I might be in for a culture shock, but when I arrived here (in Saudi Arabia) and saw the accommodations, I went 'wow!'" In addition to the top-notch working and living conditions, Stevenson also emphasized the career aspects. "This is great place for professional growth," he said.
Stevenson says the most important contribution he will make is "making sure we uphold Army values." He asks everyone who works for him to ask themselves "what have you done today" to assess their accomplishments and support to the mission.
And most importantly, Stevenson wants those he works with to start each day with energy and a positive attitude. "It's amazing what you can achieve if you make a commitment to finding solutions rather than creating the problem," he said.