FORT HOOD - The Army National Guard’s 35th Infantry Division will deploy for a historic mission overseas.
As the 35th ID nears the 100-year- anniversary of their founding, it is only fitting that they spend it in a historic mission overseas, First Army stated in a press release.
More than 600 Soldiers of the 35th ID conducted a Missional Rehearsal Exercise on Fort Hood with First Army’s Division West from May 31 to June 15.
It was the culminating training event of more than a year of preparation for the 35th ID’s imminent deployment to the Middle East.
Col. Timothy Bush, the 35th ID’s chief of staff said this MRX did a very good job of exercising their division battle staff across all of the functions that we will be executing down range.
“It pushed us to see the units we will be taking mission command over, and track their capabilities,” he said.
The 35th ID will be relieving the 29th Infantry Division, taking command of approximately 10,000 Soldiers in Kuwait, Jordan and the surrounding areas of operation.
The 35th ID partnered with First Army observer coach/trainers in all their major exercises since 2016.
First Army said they comprise of a mix of active duty, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers, all bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to the table. Col. Paul Garcia, commander of First Army’s 5th Armored Brigade, based out of Fort Bliss, Texas, emphasized the importance of his team’s diversity in preparing Reserve and National Guard unites for active roles overseas missions. Col. Garcia said they live Army Total Force Policy every day in their mission.
“Specific to 5th Armored Brigade, there’s no way I can function without all the components,” he said. “We’ve got Reservists, National Guard [Military Intelligence] formations, as well as active duty.”
Garcia said there is no way they can do their mission without the full support of every component.
The 35th ID, headquartered at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is composed of Kansas and Missouri Army National Guard elements. Additional National Guard soldiers from Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina and South Carolina are accompanying the 35th ID on their mission.
First Army said the 35th ID will assume a key role in two separate strategic initiatives: Operation Spartan Shield in Kuwait and Operation Inherent Resolve in Jordan. Both focus primarily on partnering with America’s allies in the region even though the missions are different in scope.
Lt. Col. Michelle Hannah, commander of the Kansas Army National Guard’s 635th Regional Support Group said the exercise is really helping them see the environment from a much high level and see the bigger picture and how their operations affect their allies over there.
Major General Victor Braden said he prefers to think of the three Army components as a unified force rather than separate elements. He said if you look at the holistic view of all three components, it makes for one Army that is very strong.
“One thing the Army National Guard does bring is their life experiences in the civilian sector,” he said.
The biggest challenge for deploying reserve-component units is building a team, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Dillingham, the command sergeant major of Division West. He said people are being uprooted from their families and being put together with people they only see 39 days a year.
“And some of those are not from that unit, and they mobilized from different locations,” he said.
As the final preparations for deployment are made, even some of the most junior Soldiers in the 35th ID feel confident in their team’s ability to meet the challenges ahead. Missouri Army National Guard Spc. Zachary Alder said he feels they are coming together great.
“We’re definitely learning each other’s strength and weaknesses,” Alder said. “We’re taking our weaknesses and trying to make those stronger points. We’re really gelling well.”
Major General Braden believes that the 35th ID mission will have a meaningful impact for both America’s interests and their partners in the Middle East. He said each generation has its calling.
“For that World War I generation, it was the calling of Europe,” he said. “For World War II, it was the calling of Europe and the Pacific.”
For his generation and the next, Braden said the calling is in Southwest Asia.
“Our mission there matters,” he said. “It matters to our nation, and it matters to the security and stability of that region.”
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