JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Capt. Jonathan Klein, public affairs officer for the 259th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, based in Tumwater, Washington, is excited to share the experiences of Army Reserve Soldiers participating in Exercise Always Engaged.
"Their story needs to be told," said Klein, a Chicago native. "Nobody gets to see the blood, sweat and tears a unit sheds to make these exercises happen. The long nights, staff exercises, and pain that goes into forming a unit are important experiences."
Klein attended the Public Affairs Qualification Course at Fort Meade, Maryland, in 2017. He has been assigned to the 259th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade for two years. Before that, Klein served as a battle captain with the 101st Airborne Division.
Klein became a public affairs officer because he was interested in telling the Army story. He found it challenging to transition from a combat arms position to an enabling role -- informing the public and military communities on the lives and missions of Soldiers. Klein was used to managing Soldiers directly and acting on information provided to him; now he supports those gathering that information. Over time, he developed an appreciation for the public affairs community because it recognizes the stories of the Soldiers who make the mission happen behind the scenes.
"It's an extremely hard-working group of intelligent people who fill these roles," Klein said. "They work tirelessly with a vast support structure to come up with this stuff."
That vast support structure is being implemented in Exercise Always Engaged 2018, which provides an external assessment of Military Intelligence Readiness Command units that will ultimately allow commanders to tailor future training objectives.
Klein feels Always Engaged is a unique event because there is only one other Army Reserve unit that can perform the same tasks and missions as the 259th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade. The overall point of the exercise is to prepare the brigade for military intelligence operations and to hone individual and unit-level tasks. These tasks include intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination, as well as all support functions that enable these efforts.
"If we can show that we're ready and able to take the mantle … we could supplement one of those units as early as 2019," said Klein. "There are a lot of people who are working incredibly hard to make an exercise like this happen."
Klein compared the role of the teams within the 259th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade to the role of a pit crew on a NASCAR team: the driver in the car may have the initial glory in crossing the finish line, Klein explained, but he has a large team of people who carry him there.
Klein's role in Always Engaged is to communicate the experiences of Soldiers participating in the exercise to the United States Army Reserve Command, Military Intelligence Readiness Command and 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade public affairs officers so the Army family can appreciate how this exercise impacts their individual and unit-level success.
Klein feels the growth and development within a unit goes unseen without someone there to tell the story. Telling these stories incorporates Klein's favorite part of being a public affairs officer: talking to Soldiers.
Senior leaders and junior enlisted alike have sacrificed their personal time, Klein said, including their 4th of July weekend, to make the training areas ready for the incoming Soldiers.
Klein wants to capture that, not only to give the Soldiers recognition, but also to light a path and provide a standard for Soldiers in the future, to duplicate what Soldiers have done, and ultimately achieve the same results.
"It's not just about finding success for your unit," said Klein. "It's about finding that success for the next unit that follows you."