KAISERSLAUTERN, GERMANY - As the main civil affairs provider for U.S. Army Europe, Col. Bradley Heston is making it his priority to prepare the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade to support units across Europe.

Heston addressed his priorities to his brigade and subordinate leadership from Germany and Italy at the 361st CA BDE's Commander's Conference March 22 to 23.

"We have to be that go-to asset so instead of [USAREUR] asking for [continental United States] based units, we are here," said Heston. "We have to be trained and ready so USAREUR acknowledges that and they always ask for us first."

Heston, the commander of the 361st CA BDE, hosted the event that allowed his brigade staff to interact with subordinate commanders in a face-to-face forum.

"My intent for this event is that we have good, open, honest, frank dialogue between commanders and their ops guys and my staff," Heston said. "A lot of this [conference] is sharing ideas, best practices, things that we've been doing right, things that we've not been doing too well."

Heston held the event because he previously hadn't had a chance to convey his vision, means of success and standard of conduct down to the company level due to the high operational tempo.

Heston took command of 361st CA BDE several weeks before the brigade deployed to Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, to support USAREUR's Saber Guardian 17 exercise last summer.

"I want [my subordinate commanders] to be able to take [my vision] back to their units to empower their first line supervisors to ensure that they understand the communicated vision and intent I have, so that we can collectively impart this on the command to bring it to new levels of excellence."

The conference included topics such as medical readiness, command policies, mission and training requirements, and the brigade public affairs program.