Security assistance managers also serve as Guardsmen

By Terri StoverApril 22, 2022

Capt. Michael Roach Jr., right, assumes command of the 167th Theater Sustainment Command Headquarters and Headquarters Company, April 2 at Fort McClellan.
Capt. Michael Roach Jr., right, assumes command of the 167th Theater Sustainment Command Headquarters and Headquarters Company, April 2 at Fort McClellan. (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Dunkle, 167th TSC) VIEW ORIGINAL

Many people choose a life of service, which can include wearing a clergy’s collar, a set of medical scrubs, or a military uniform. Sometimes the military uniform is worn once a month.

The Security Assistance Command has many people who serve part time in the Army Reserve or a National Guard unit – Army or Air Force. These organizations provide unique opportunities to serve our country without making a full-time commitment. Two USASAC employees serve in the Alabama Army National Guard, and have been part of a change of command ceremony.

Michael Roach Jr., division chief, SOUTHCOM/NORTCOM directorate, and Wade Preston, division chief, CENTCOM directorate, both serve in the 167th Theater Sustainment Command, Anniston. Preston is the battalion commander, and Roach took company command in a ceremony April 2.

Both men joined the Guard without having been part of a ROTC program or serving full time in the military. They have similar positions within USASAC, and have similar jobs in the Guard as 90A, multi-functional logisticians.

“I enlisted in May 2013 and graduated from the Alabama Military Academy in August 2014, where I earned my commission as a second lieutenant through the officer candidate school program,” Roach said. “Maximizing leadership opportunities to influence positive mission outcomes and helping Soldiers achieve their goals, has been very rewarding. In addition, I grew quite a bit, professionally, while serving in multiple leadership roles, during an exercise rotation at the National Training Center.”

Roach grew up in a military family and knew from an early age that he wanted to serve in the military. “I was born in Birmingham, but also spent time as a child growing up in Germany and Missouri.”

Preston joined the Alabama Army National Guard in 2004, while working for the government. He also went through the officer candidate school.

“I joined the National Guard right after 9/11,” Preston said. “It was the ongoing Afghanistan and Iraq deployments that I saw my friends going on. I saw the toll it was taking on our military firsthand and felt that I owed it to them and our country to do what I could to help. For me, that was why I enlisted into the U.S. Army.”

Preston has been deployed three times, however, he says, “nothing I have done while deployed overseas compares to being able to help your neighbor.”

In April 2011 he was activated to support the Phil Campbell area after the tornado outbreak in North Alabama. “It didn’t matter if it was to provide meals, assist in clearing roads, or pulling security missions at night, the Alabama National Guard really had a part to play in all aspects,” Preston said. “In a time when our neighbors needed us, the Guard was there to assist and help out communities anyway we could.”

Preston has been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Jordan. The longest deployment was to Jordan. “USASAC opened the door for me to take an active-duty assignment in Jordan,” he said. “As the country program manager for Jordan I worked closely with the Embassy. The Embassy had augmented slots for reservists. Through my work with USASAC I was selected and was able to serve as a security cooperation officer in Jordan for two years while serving on active duty.”

The skills gained in the Guard can help in a civilian career and vice versa. Both Roach and Preston have used the knowledge gained as a Guardsman to help support foreign military sales partners.

“Since joining the Alabama Army National Guard, I have received hands-on training on some of the weapon systems that we transfer to our FMS partners, so that has allowed me to better understand the importance of logistics and sustainment as it relates to FMS,” Roach said.

“Currently serving in the 167th Theater Sustainment Command that supports SOUTHCOM, USASAC gives us a unique perspective in understanding our partner’s capabilities and what areas we can leverage for support and what areas we need to provide more support.”

When asked if they would recommend anyone to join the Army National Guard, they both said an enthusiastic yes. “Best move you could ever make,” Preston said.

“The Guard is a very rewarding profession that allows people to serve their country and in their local communities while also providing great career opportunities and assistance,” Roach said.

The Army National Guard consists of mostly part-time Soldiers, or Guardsmen. They serve both their state and the country. They work one weekend a month, and train for two weeks a year.

Most people think of the National Guard as only assisting during natural disasters. While this is true, the National Guard also serves their country and can be called into active duty to serve in their state or abroad.

The National Guard has an estimated strength of over 340,000 Soldiers, which is nearly 40% of the Army’s operational force.

National Guard members have varied civilian jobs, can stay close to their family and community, and complete their drills near their home. They do all of this while receiving Army pay and benefits.

Their responsibilities differ based on state and federal missions. State missions are what they are most known for and are when Guardsmen help with their communities. However, the Guard still works to fulfill the military’s needs by being trained, equipped and ready for mobilization whenever needed.