By Kim Gillespie, USASAC Public AffairsMay 16, 2017
Dick Wiles returned to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because he missed the Army's mission and community. While that might seem like a strange statement, Wiles, the chief G3 at the Office of the Program Manager, Saudi National Guard (OPM-SANG) Modernization Program, emphasizes it is not unusual for those who have been there.
"It's special--such a small area (Eskan Village) that it really brings people together," he said. "The command climate is very good and there is a true sense of camaraderie because of a common mission and a sense of family when you are there."
Wiles was no novice to OPM-SANG, having been assigned there while on active duty with the Army, and then working as a civilian employee. Wiles, third generation military with 24 years of service, was also no novice to operations and force protection. After retiring from the military, he was selected and served four years as the director of security for the command.
In his previous position with Homeland Security he served as both Assistant Federal Director-Screening and Federal Security Director and oversaw more than 500 security officers.
"It was a lot like being in command (in the Army)," he said, which also made it one of his favorite jobs.
Wiles is a certified Security Specialist, Advance Executive Protection Specialist, Force Protection and Antiterrorism officer, and has worked in numerous operational and command positions. His current role at OPM-SANG requires him to help synchronize the staff in order to meet the goals and objectives of the Program Manager, Maj. Gen. Frank Muth.
The OPM-SANG G3 is also responsible for security.
"We work closely with OPM's mission partners and the 879th Air Force Security Forces, which is responsible for security at Eskan Village," he said. The G3 staff works across organizational boundaries to ensure a synchronized and seamless effort when it comes to operations and security.
Additionally, Wiles oversees the training program for OPM-SANG for all military and civilians. All these G-3 efforts are coordinated through OPM-SANG's higher headquarters, the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, and the major command, Army Materiel Command.
The importance of the OPM-SANG mission is something he feels strongly about because of its support to strategic readiness.
"We are partnering with a key ally to provide a defense network within the Middle East," he said. "The Saudis provide a balance to the Iranian threat," he added.
Wiles notes that while it was the British who had an initial relationship with the Saudis, "they have relied on Americans as advisors for more than 40 years" and "have a deep respect for the U.S. as a country."
He emphasized that there was a lot of trust and friendship between OPM-SANG, its mission partners and our Saudi counterparts. Wiles provided an example of how important lasting relationships are to the Saudis.
"I have remained friends and in touch with several Saudi officers that includes a retired two-star Saudi general and my CGSC (Command and General Staff College) classmate that is now a Minister of State for the Saudi government."
Wiles' G3 staff is a mixture of Dept. of the Army civilians, contractors and military, with the contractors being scattered at various locations in the country.
"I have really good people to execute the mission, it is not only important to be mission focused here, but you also have to enjoy and experience the culture to be effective." he said.
While he cites his biggest challenge as team building with mission partners and host nation, "meeting those challenges is rewarding."
One of his current projects includes designing and coordinating a special security project on Eskan with our U.S. security force and the Ministry of Defense, which is not typical. However, he enjoys the relationship building aspects of the project, which he says is what makes OPM-SANG such a strong partner.
According to Wiles, the important mission of OPM-SANG requires specialized expertise for its staff, but is also requires an adventurous spirit.
"It's a place where you will make lifetime friendships," he said. "…And where else could you go dune running and desert camping within hours of each other?"
To learn more about OPM-SANG and working and living on Eskan Village, visit: www.army.mil/opm-sang.