Lt. Gen. Antonio Aguto Jr. shakes hands with Lt. Col. Julian Kemper of the 120th Infantry Brigade after arriving at North Fort Hood, Texas.
Lt. Gen. Antonio Aguto Jr. shakes hands with Lt. Col. Julian Kemper of the 120th Infantry Brigade after arriving at North Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Michael Parker) VIEW ORIGINAL

First Army’s new commanding general and command sergeant major were greeted by Division West leadership at their headquarters July 27, followed by a tour of North Fort Hood’s training facilities and engagement with observer coach/trainers.

Lt. Gen. Antonio Aguto Jr., commanding general of First Army, had just taken command in July, and was ready to observe the training capabilities of the OC/Ts from 120th Infantry Brigade and 166th Aviation Brigade, to include meeting with their command teams as well as battalion-level leaders.

“I am pleased with the visit to Division West and North Fort Hood, and am happy to have met the command teams and observe how the OC/Ts from across the division are carrying out First Army’s mission,” Aguto said. “It is an honor to be First Army’s commanding general and speak to the Soldiers undergoing their training. I am humbled to join in on the continued partnerships Division West has built over the years.”

Aguto’s visit was accompanied by Maj. Gen. Richard Johnson, commanding general of Division West, who further assisted in the commander’s first-hand look at each brigade’s leadership, mission, current strengths and capabilities, and observations of what North Fort Hood provides to Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve mobilizations.

“We’re glad Lt. Gen. Aguto was able to visit and not only review our division’s current operational picture over Army mobilizations, resourcing and MFGI expansion projects, but also directly engage with the Soldiers and observe the quality of life provided at North Fort Hood,” Johnson said. “We had many of our OC/Ts and Soldiers meet with him and learn from First Army leadership, and we thank Lt. Gen. Aguto and Command Sgt. Maj. McDwyer for taking the time to visit our team.”

The 166th Aviation Brigade provided their introductions followed by discussions and a briefing about their organization as part of First Army’s premiere trainers for mobilizing Army National Guard aviation units.

Royal Netherlands Army Maj. Jan Q. Elsinga, deputy commander and foreign liaison officer of the 302nd Royal Netherlands Aviation Squadron, also participated in the meeting with 166th Avn. Bde. to meet and observe First Army leadership.

“I personally enjoyed the open forum where the command teams of 166th Aviation Brigade were able to have an open discussion with the new commanding general,” Elsinga said. “As a former Dutch OC/T or observer coach/trainer, as we call ourselves, I certainly agree with the commander’s emphasis on building partnerships and investing in the trainer/trainee relationship to enhance training results.”

Elsinga further related to one of Aguto’s tenets that all leaders must always provide a sense of purpose to their Soldiers.

“I think the commander’s take on sense of purpose is integral to our line of work,” Elsinga shared. “We (the RNLA) tend to only see ourselves in severe crisis situations. Our purpose is to train for these situations, and be ready when needed. And even when we’re not facing an actual crisis, our leader’s sense of this very purpose only helps our personnel achieve their self-actualization – it’s a reminder of the top tier level to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory on motivation that we use to enable growth and development of our Soldiers.”

Following flyovers of North Fort Hood’s training grounds, Aguto’s first stop was with Soldiers who were on break at the PX. He spoke to Soldiers from 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Tennessee Army National Guard, to learn about their recent eXPortable Combat Training Capability exercise that fulfilled their annual training.

Groups of 278th ACR Soldiers exchanged feedback about the facilities, XCTC training support from First Army OC/Ts, and Army service stories with Aguto, resulting in several receiving First Army command coins of excellence for their hard work demonstrated.

“It was definitely a surprise visit for sure, but a great morale booster for us,” Sgt. Dylan Rowe, a team leader from 1st Platoon, Troop F, 2nd Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, and resident of Chattanooga, Tennessee, said. “The experience was absolutely fantastic. This was actually my first time getting to talk with a general officer and being able to share with him who we were and the training we conducted alongside First Army OC/Ts. Both generals were very approachable, personable, and extremely knowledgeable.”

Aguto, alongside Command Sgt. Maj. John McDwyer, command sergeant major of First Army, followed up with Longhorn division’s OC/Ts over a lunch break in Gatesville. Both engaged with the Soldiers to get a good highlight of where each Soldier came from prior to joining First Army, and what it meant to them serving and impacting Soldier readiness.

While continuing the tour of North Fort Hood, First Army leaders received a briefing led by Lt. Col. Julian Kemper, executive officer of the 120th Infantry Brigade, followed by an open forum between Aguto, McDwyer, and the training support battalion command teams.

“I am very pleased with the demonstrated professionalism and dedication to all training exercises supported by our First Army OC/Ts at North Fort Hood,” Aguto said. “From the Division West leadership to the down-trace units from each brigade, it is very gratifying to see that safety and Soldier readiness remains as the top priority. The quality of life provided by our MFGIs, to include COVID mitigation protocols, shows the mission remains no change, and I look forward to leading and guiding First Army’s mission.”