EDINBURGH, Ind. – An Illinois National Guardsman headed east to gain experience, professional growth and development.
Maj. Andrew Salmo now wears the 38th Infantry Division's CY patch and serves as the Cyclone Division's plans officer. He's also now an Indiana Guardsman.
"I thought the opportunity to be at a division level would be really developmental for me because a division has so many more assets," said Salmo. "It has a lot of fire assets, it has Air Force assets, and so you get so many more opportunities to develop as a leader. It's a pretty exciting opportunity."
In combat, those assets – which also include infantry, armor, aviation and sustainment brigades and maneuver enhancement brigades – mean more responsibilities and more to account for as a plans officer preparing for a major operation.
Formerly the operations officer with the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, Salmo returned in October from a deployment supporting Operation Spartan Shield in the Middle East. Salmo had heard of the aligned-for-training program, and his commander recommended him for the division's open position.
"I've learned a lot about how divisions fight and operate," Salmo said. "And that was something that when you're at a battalion level, you don't see how that process works. So coming up here and seeing that higher-level process, I think, it is very different the way a division fights and organizes versus how a battalion does it."
While Salmo serves as the division's plans officer for this year's warfighter exercise and an additional exercise in 2022, he will learn even more.
"I thought that would be a great opportunity because this is really one of the major training events for the Army when divisions do warfighters. That's a big deal. So I thought that would be a good experience also to have."
Salmo can apply those lessons learned to future assignments as a battalion or brigade commander.
"When I go back to a battalion or brigade, I'll have that knowledge to sort of understand how higher is probably thinking, so here's how we can operationalize it at our level," said Salmo. "And for me also, I like the tactical piece."
Salmo credits aligned-for-training as a fantastic opportunity for himself and others.
In July, the Army National Guard announced its divisions would align with down-trace formations within the divisions' headquartered states and regionally in adjacent states.
The 38th Infantry Division units are Indiana's 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 38th Combat Aviation Brigade and 38th Sustainment Brigade. Regionally units from other states are the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Urbana, Illinois; 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Columbus, Ohio, and 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Richmond, Kentucky.
"The 38th Infantry Division's alignment for training program includes the states of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan," said Col. Cathy Eaken, the division's chief of staff. "The goal is to build capacity by selecting the best and brightest candidates to serve at the division staff level."
Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, now chief of the National Guard Bureau, shares those sentiments.
"This alignment will not only help us improve readiness, but it will also greatly enhance talent management from company to division level," Hokanson said in a release last July. "Through coordination between adjutants general and division commanders, our Soldiers will have opportunities for key leader development positions previously hampered by geography."
That holds true for Salmo, who headed east, or potentially any direction on the compass for any National Guard Soldier and leader.