By Staff Sgt. Austin L. Thomas, JFHQ-NCR/MDW Public AffairsMarch 30, 2017
A noncommissioned officer is the backbone of the Army, and the same holds true for the senior enlisted advisor, who is the backbone of the command. Command Sgt. Maj. Paul E. Biggs assumed responsibility of Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region (JFHQ-NCR) and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington (MDW) Sept. 27, 2016. He quickly learned the JFHQ-NCR/MDW is a unique command, with its own challenges and rewards, which was immediately evident with the 58th Presidential Inauguration.
"Before coming to JFHQ-NCR/MDW you learn the same information everyone gathers," said Biggs. "The biggest thing that gets highlighted is the ceremonial aspect, which is The Old Guard (TOG) and The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own." You almost get lulled into the sense that the ceremonial mission is all that the MDW is comprised of."
However, Biggs quickly learned that while the ceremonial and musical support is important, there is much more to the overall JFHQ-NCR/MDW mission, which includes planning, coordination, maintaining situational awareness, and as directed, partnering in the employment of forces as a Joint Task Force to conduct homeland defense and civil support operations in the National Capital Region to mitigate regional challenges.
"A prime example is the recent inauguration," he said. "The interagency and intergovernmental synchronization and coordination that occurs within this organization is incredible. I would not have been able to tell you six months ago that these relationships existed from a personal perspective, and then you include The U.S. Army Aviation Brigade that is a part of the mix, and my assessment would be WOW! So much goes on in the day to day workings within the JFHQ-NCR/MDW."
Biggs was also impressed with the flawless execution of the day to day operations, stating, "If any organization is the epitome of mission command, it is the Military District of Washington."
The biggest challenge Biggs faces as the command sergeant major is the complicated and unique structure of the command, which is very different from other division level positions.
"Most of the organizations within the MDW are executing their operational mission each and every day," said Biggs. "TOG is doing ceremonial support, casualty assistance and mortuary support every single day. The White House Transportation Agency and The U.S. Army Aviation Brigade are executing support to the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Defense every single day. So forecasting training procedures is a little bit different, because we are not moving towards a metric where I'm building capacity from a squad, platoon, company, or battalion level to generate a T-level rating or fully trained in our old objective standards to be green on a briefing slide. Our operational mission requires us to be green all the time."
The challenge lies outside of the operational mission and involves meeting other requirements that all Soldiers need to be proficient at to do their jobs.
"Finding the time to execute warrior task and battle drills and maintain proficiency at the crew, team or squad level - outside of the ceremonial, the aviation, the driving, the band - outside of their day to day tasks and assignments, is the most challenging thing," he said. "Helping the staff to support that within enough reason so that resources can be allocated to those that need it without being wasteful is what's most critical."
Another priority during Biggs' first 180 days was establishing relationships with senior enlisted leaders of the Air Force and Navy Districts of Washington, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland NCR and the Marine Corps NCR.
"The Joint Forces aspect was the biggest surprise," he said. "Since there was a lot of leadership transition before I arrived, getting those relationships established became a priority. Those relationships are very important within the National Capital Region so all of the services are cohesive in their effort, and nowhere was that effort more evident than during the inauguration."
The U.S. Army Military District of Washington serves as the Army Forces Component and core staff element of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region which conducts operations that deter, prevent and respond to threats aimed at the National Capital Region; and conducts world-class ceremonial musical and special events in support of our Nation's leadership.