By Debra ValineOctober 22, 2018
They came into the world as Army brats, born to then Lt. Bob Sullivan and wife Frances in 1964, while their dad was in the Advanced Course at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Three weeks later they were moving to Mannheim, Germany.
Identical twins Mark and Tim Sullivan grew up in an Army family; their father, a 24-year ordnance officer and Vietnam veteran, retired as a lieutenant colonel from Redstone Arsenal. Mark and Tim each served 27 years in the Army and continue to serve as civilian employees with the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC).
You might say service to their country is in their blood.
In 1986, the Grissom High School class of 1983 graduates enlisted in the Army Reserve. They received their commissions through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Jacksonville State University (JSU), Alabama, in 1988. In 2006, as lieutenant colonels, JSU recognized both as Military Alumnus of the Year.
Tim is the acting G37 - Security Assistance Training Integration Division within G-3. His division ensures that training is fully integrated into the Total Package for all Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases.
"In a typical FMS case, there are multiple training lines," said Tim, who oversees training for partners and allies worldwide. "In a Patriot case, for example, there are 14 training lines leading to the delivery of the system, and multiple lines after delivery. Resourcing those 14 training lines is no simple task when multiple entities across the Army Security Assistance Enterprise have to be involved in the discussion. If we are going to deliver what we promise, we have to synchronize the training."
Mark is the director of the Redstone Field Office that supports the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Interior - Military Assistance Group (MOI-MAG).
"I provide on-site representation here at USASAC for the organization in country," Mark said. "I lead programming activities here in the field office and serve as the technical authority for total package fielding of materiel, training and other services to our Saudi partners.
Mark said he accomplishes everything from the Pre-Letter of Request through closure on an FMS case, which includes the training aspect his brother oversees.
"The organization in-country has two significant roles: advising and training," Mark said. "Once U.S. and Saudi teammates agree on the requirements, the field office here at Redstone takes over."
During their time in the Army, both said they performed Security Assistance tasks without realizing it.
"Like a lot of retired military, we never really thought about it, but the majority of military who have deployed have been involved in Security Assistance, one way or the other," said Tim, an ordnance officer, who came to work at USASAC in 2012. "Whether it is delivering equipment, training or establishing capabilities for a foreign ally or partner, it is far from unusual; most Soldiers are involved in building partner capacity."
"As a field artillery officer, my job had nothing to do with Security Assistance," said Mark, who has been with USASAC since 2013. "But, for two deployments to Iraq, I was actually executing Security Assistance missions. I didn't know I was doing it. By issuing artillery equipment to the Iraqi army, I was doing Security Assistance. People at USASAC were building the cases, and I was issuing the equipment."
While their Army careers generally took them to different places, they served three tours at Fort Benning, Georgia, together.
"We were the first twins to command battalions at the same time at Fort Benning," said Tim, who commanded 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, for 32 months. Mark commanded the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment.
They also deployed three times at the same time to Iraq and Kuwait, though with different units.
"We found each other all over the battlefield," Tim said. "I could almost sense that I would be close to him. I would reach out on the radio. One time, he was less than a mile away, and we were able to meet."
"One time, I was in a combat unit in Iraq, and he was in a logistics unit," Mark said. "We were fighting and protecting his northern flank so they could move supplies and fuel and not get bogged down fighting. We were in the same area for four days, and were able to talk on the radio."
Mark said they both planned to move back to Huntsville when they retired. "Our mother was here; Dad died in 2012." Tim's wife's parents also live in Huntsville. They agree that family time is important.
"Family time is so important to us because of the amount of separation over our military careers," said Mark, who is married and has six children. "Any time we get to spend with our families is a bonus."
Tim is married and has three children; his daughters are identical twins.
Even after 27 years in the Army, and more than five years total federal service each, we remain equally committed to serving, Mark said.
"I think we would agree that what we do now is very rewarding work," Mark said. "Unlike training our Army organizations, we are training international allies and partners. Over time, training our allies and partners to do things the U.S. military does, should mean less time our forces would be deployed."
"What we do every day here at USASAC is very serious," Tim said. "We have a very important mission here. That should be our focus every day when we come to work."