Military News

Sunday, August 30, 2015

USARAK commander sets out priorities for readiness

Commentary by Army Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens
USARAK commanding general

8/28/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Greetings to the arctic warrior family. I am thrilled to lead this team and be counted among the cold weather, cold region experts of U.S. Army Alaska. I've been told my family arrived in Alaska during the best time of year, and I have to say I agree completely.

The Alaska community has made us feel extremely welcome, and we look forward to experiencing all the amazing landscapes, activities and culture this state has to offer.

Today, I want to share my priorities for the arctic warriors during my command. Over the coming months, I will be out meeting and talking to our Soldiers, civilians and families to reinforce and expound on these priorities.

My top priority is to provide our Army and our nation with trained and ready forces to accomplish our current and future missions. To do this, Soldiers, and especially leaders, must develop and sustain a field mentality. Exercising field discipline will help Soldiers collectively overcome many of the challenges they face.

Earlier in my Army career when we went to the field, there were only five times we were permitted to remove our helmets.

Those five allowances were during after-action reviews, religious worship, and designated chow, sleep and personal hygiene times. That was it. But it wasn't about the helmet; it was about discipline, a key tenet of our profession and being a professional Soldier. Our leaders enforced the standards, and we learned discipline.

Just as my leaders enforced our unit's helmet standard, I expect all USARAK leaders to steadfastly enforce our standards every day to help instill the necessary level of discipline and through that discipline gain and maintain the trust of the American people.

Thus far, I have been very impressed with the quality of U.S. Army Alaska's arctic tough leaders, the training facilities on our installations and the unique environmental opportunities we have here on the Last Frontier. To live up to our moniker as America's Arctic Warriors, we must always continue to fine tune our skills as the best cold-weather, cold-region combat troops on the planet.

An essential element of achieving a high state of readiness is trust.  I view trust as an equation: credibility + reliability + intimacy (the effort and involvement with getting to know those you lead) divided by the perception of self interest. We've got to maintain trust in each other.

A lot of big changes are coming to our Army, and we don't have a clear sight picture yet. There is a lot of conjecture and rumor about where our Army is heading and especially what will happen here in Alaska. As I get more information about USARAK's future, I will pass it along to our Soldiers, civilians and families.

You are all winners in my book and have my complete trust until you violate that trust. I ask that you in turn trust your leaders. As we move forward in training our units to fight and win our nation's wars, I am confident we will balance our readiness requirements with the force-reduction challenges ahead.

We are working through a very deliberate mission analysis, and we will work closely with our partners to continue achieving the same high training and readiness standards while caring for our Soldiers and families.

I ask that you all continue to be patient, focus on the mission, look out for each other and always give your very best.

Arctic warriors, arctic tough!

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