Nine months ago the Kansas National Guard’s 635th Regional Support Group became the first ever National Guard unit to take on the mission of filling about half of the key staff and support positions at U.S. Army Central Forward Command Post. The positions they filled were at forward elements mainly in Kuwait, which acts as the eyes on the ground for USARCENT, and controls the U.S. Army’s ground forces in the Middle East.
After successfully pioneering the mission they concluded their tour by handing the reigns over to a fellow Guard unit, the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 151st Regional Support Group, at a change of responsibility ceremony at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait February 28.
“It was impressive to watch as we all wondered how the RSG was going to fit into the USARCENT headquarters,” said Col. John Strange, the Deputy Chief of Staff for USARCENT (Forward). “Rounding out the U.S. Army theater headquarters was not a Regional Support Group mission, but it seems only a Regional Support Group can do it.”
Traditionally a Regional Support Group is a headquarters unit comprised of less than 100 Soldiers whose role is to focus on base camp management. This is to allow the combatant commander to focus on combat operations. However, for the USARCENT mission the Guard units have roles that go far beyond the scope of base operations, filling staff positions in everything from range operations to engineering.
“They are going to gain a vast amount of knowledge of not just how the Army or the National Guard works, but of how the military as a whole functions,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Palmer, the Senior Enlisted Advisor for USARCENT (Forward). “It gives Soldiers a lot of opportunities to excel outside their comfort zone, they are going to learn a lot more than what they went to training for.”
Spc. Meghan O’Connell, who was trained as a Financial Management Specialist, is one of the 151st Soldiers who will find herself far out of her traditional role serving in the Executive Services Branch. This will take her from managing Soldiers’ pay to planning visits and escorting dignitaries like General Officers and politicians around the Middle East.
“This mission gives the other branches we work with a chance to see what is unique about the National Guard,” said O’Connell. Read more