Idaho Army National Guard to spend the summer in a dozen countries

1 Guard: 12 countries.

Soldiers from the Idaho Army National Guard are currently training in four countries and will deploy to train in eight others between now and the end of summer. None of these countries include Afghanistan or Iraq.

Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers are currently training in Canada, Cambodia, Guatemala, and Romania and will soon deploy to Bangladesh, Germany, Nepal, Tanzania, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea and Morocco.

“Soldiers that volunteer for these missions have the opportunity to utilize their Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) with our allies and partners,” said Lt. Col. Scott Sheridan, director of operations for the Idaho Army National Guard. “Anytime you utilize your MOS, you increase your aptitude as well as increase the interoperability with the host nation’s soldiers and our allies and partners.”

As Citizen-Soldiers, Idaho Guardsmen bring more than just their military skill set to these missions.

“Guard Soldiers typically spend one weekend a month and a few weeks at drill,” said Maj. Jon Frye, an Idaho Army National Guard operations officer. “The rest of the time they are at their civilian employment. They bring these civilian skills and perspectives to their Army job.”

Frye said these skills and perspectives helps Soldiers connect with their counterparts prior to the start of and during any training opportunities.

“It helps build bridges when they are first getting to know each other, ‘oh, we’re not so different,’” Frye said. “It helps them find common ground between them.”

Soldiers volunteer to go on these deployments, which are typically in addition to the Soldiers’ annual training requirements and in locations most people wouldn’t otherwise travel. Deployments typically last between five to 21 days and often focus on peace-keeping missions.

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew J. Alandt traveled to Cambodia last July as part of a Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency mission. The CULP program teaches Army ROTC cadets about foreign cultures around the world.

“I enjoyed my trip to Cambodia,” Alandt said. “It was a great opportunity to travel the world while helping mold future Army officers into leaders. It’s a mixture of travel and cultural exchange and teaching other countries’ military the English language and culture.”

Alandt and a small team will travel to Nepal in June with ROTC cadets to conduct a similar three-week mission. During the first week, the group will spend the first week helping to rebuild a housing structure; the second week interacting with Nepal’s military; and the last week visiting cultural sites in the South Asian country.

Missions around the world like these allow the Idaho Army National Guard to have a global impact in both the State Department and the Department of Defense efforts. Idaho Soldiers have trained under eight of the military’s nine geographic combatants.

“Idaho is known as a respectable, capable and willing partner to support different combatant commands by providing extremely capable and motivated Soldiers to complete these missions,” Sheridan said.

Sheridan said his staff will continue to seek opportunities for Idaho Soldiers to train in Overseas Deployment Missions (ODT). He encourages Soldiers who are interested in participating in future missions to start acquiring a “brown cover” passport and completing other overseas deployment requirements. A brown cover passport is used for official government travel.

116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team honors Fallen Soldiers

116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team honors Fallen Soldiers

GOWEN FIELD, ID – The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team unveiled the 116th Cavalry Brigade Fallen Soldier Memorial and re-dedicated the 116th Cavalry Association’s memorial Friday at Gowen Field.

“This is to show the families and loved ones of those who have been lost, that they haven’t been forgotten,” said Lt. Col Jim Harper, 116th CBCT executive officer.

The event, held at both the Gowen Field Memorial Park and the brigade’s headquarters, celebrated the service of and honored the Soldiers who died in support of the brigade’s two deployments to Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom III in 2004-2005 and Operation New Dawn in 2010-2011 were the largest deployments in the Idaho Army National Guard’s history.

During the ceremony, retired Brig. Gen. Alan C. Gayhart read off the names of the 13 Soldiers who died during the deployments. Meanwhile, Soldiers hung individual dog tags on the battlefield cross, which stands on permanent display at the park.

The battlefield cross memorial consists of a cast of the fallen Soldier’s rifle stuck into the ground with the Soldier’s boots at its base and helmet on top of the rifle. Gayhart explained the historical significance of the cross, which is often used to honor the fallen in combat by fellow Soldiers unable to attend their comrade’s funeral.

A battlefield cross was also dedicated to the unit’s fallen Soldiers in a separate ceremony and now sits in the brigade’s headquarters building. The memorial was forged from the brass of ammunition fired by the brigade’s Soldiers during its first deployment to Iraq.

The family of Cpl. Carrie French, who was killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom III, attended the event.