By Sgt. Raquel VillalonaNovember 4, 2019
SAGAMIHARA, Japan - The Fires Center of Excellence command team is dedicated to raising the standard of training and education by identifying new and innovative ways to educate and train Soldiers to be productive members of their units.
A way to achieve this objective is to reach out and speak with the newest to the most senior Soldiers.
Maj. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, commanding general, FCoE and Fort Sill, and Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Foley, FCoE and Fort Sill senior enlisted advisor, navigated the hallways of the 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade headquarters speaking with Pacific Guardian Soldiers to better understand the unit's challenges and successes associated with reactivation of the brigade during a visit at Sagami General Depot, Nov. 1.
"The FCoE command team visit was a tremendous opportunity for the Pacific Guardians to convey to a wider audience both our pride and excitement in pursuing our mission in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility," said Lt. Col. James L. Crenshaw, deputy commanding officer, 38th ADA Bde. "The visit also presented a great opportunity for Soldiers at all levels to receive news about the future of the ADA branch from Army senior leadership."
The 38th ADA Bde. reactivated Oct. 31, 2018 to provide combined, joint air and missile defense in support of the U.S. Indo-Pacfic Command, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, and U.S. Army Japan.
"The reactivation of the 38th ADA Brigade was a huge deal in the U.S. Army," said Shoffner. "You don't see too many new units being established throughout the world, so the fact that the 38th ADA Brigade stood up here signifies an apparent need for air defense oversight throughout the Indo-Pacific region."
Leadership covered key topics affecting units now and potentially in the future, including: Army Total Force Policy; the ongoing transition to the Army Combat Fitness Test; Army training initiatives such as Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercises; new talent-management programs and opportunities for Soldiers' careers; and ongoing efforts to balance Army readiness and modernize the force.
"Priorities will begin to shift from building readiness to sustaining readiness and modernizing the force toward a Multi-Domain Operations-capable force," Shoffner said. "We will deliver on that mission by developing Soldiers and leaders, mastering the fundamentals, and modernizing our force, while continuing to support the Army's global commitments with ready forces."
Given the threats posed by North Korea's ballistic missile programs, it is important for both the U.S. and Japan to have robust missile defense capabilities and Soldiers who are ready and able to accomplish that mission. To maintain and increase the unit's readiness, training for the ACFT has commenced to better prepare Soldiers.
"When our junior leaders take ownership of ACFT training and preparation, the Army's fitness culture will experience an authentic transformation," said Foley. "The ACFT provides an excellent assessment of our Soldiers' physical fitness and mental toughness and offers a well-rounded test that encourages Soldiers to develop speed, strength and athleticism."
Shoffner discussed how important it was for leaders to focus on the Soldiers who "do the right thing" by explaining the 10/10/80 rule.
"In a group, there are 10 percent of Soldiers who do the wrong thing most of the time; 10 percent who are always excelling; and 80 percent who are generally doing the right thing," said Shoffner. "Leadership tends to focus on the 10-percenters most of the time, when their focus should be on those in the middle who are most likely to be influenced by attention given to their efforts."
Pacific Guardian Soldiers were asked the pros and cons of their experience with their assignment thus far. Many highlighted the various travel opportunities and value of cultural immersion with the Japanese, while conversely some mentioned the traffic, which is common amongst major cities.
"I love being stationed in Japan because it's such a safe country and the locals are so polite," said Sgt. Meagan Esposito, unit supply specialist, 38th ADA Brigade. "I was with another unit at Sagami General Depot prior to this brigade reactivating and took the opportunity to extend my stay by joining this new and exciting team."
The visit yielded an open dialogue with leaders and Soldiers expressing their unique experience in establishing the brigade, which was both challenging and rewarding. Parties involved with the visit gained a new understanding of how Fort Sill and the FCoE operates and how the 38th ADA Bde. plays a key role in the global air defense posture.
"It's clear from Maj. Gen. Shoffner's and Command Sgt. Maj. Foley's comments that air defense is a significant area of growth for our Army," said Maj. Peter Flores, brigade executive officer. "Our brigade is at the forefront of this growth and the presence of our Soldiers here in Japan are a manifestation of the importance of our alliance and this region. Maj. Gen. Shoffner and Command Sgt. Maj. Foley listened to our Soldiers intently and will undoubtedly take our many lessons learned back to the FCoE for the betterment of our force."