Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Family’s Support Makes Difference Through Multiple Deployments

By Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Six times in the last 10 years, Sgt. Maj. Jeff Zentz has deployed with his Ohio Army National Guard units. Zentz’s most recent deployment ended just a few months ago when the 371st

With that many deployments on his service record and a wife and three children, Zentz knows firsthand the challenges soldiers face when they’re away from their families for an extended period.

“Staying connected to my wife and children is one of the hardest parts of being deployed, especially as often as I have been over the last 10 years,” he said. “Being gone for nine to 12 months is not like being gone for a drill weekend or a two- to three-week annual training.”

Zentz credits his wife, April, for giving him the ability to focus on taking care of his military business through the support she’s given him during the six mobilizations and “holding down the fort back home.”

“During every deployment, I handled most of the issues at the home level,” she said. “Even though things may have been difficult, I always made sure I did not complain to Jeff. I knew he had a lot of important responsibilities where he was, and I didn’t want to draw his attention away from those.

“We have been married for 26 years now,” she continued, “and working together with my husband and children throughout all of the deployments has made us a very close family. I wouldn’t change anything.”

Serving Together

Zentz has served with both of his sons during two different deployments. In 2012 he and his son Army Spc. Jordon Zentz were in Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment, and last year he and Army Sgt. Jaaron Zentz deployed with the 371st Sustainment Brigade. Jordon was deployed with his unit at the same time last year and all three were able to get together for a brief visit.

“When deployed with one of my sons, it is nice to have a family member close,” he said. “The negative side is others tend to assume that I insert myself into their business, which I do not. They may be my sons, but they are not my soldiers. There is a very distinct difference.”

Jordon called the experience of being deployed with his dad “interesting,” and Jaaron said it was “nice, as I was able to spend time with him when we had free time.”

The military experience also has helped the Zentz family pay for college tuition, including that of daughter Mikayla, who recently graduated from Michigan State University.

Zentz is on active duty at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and is scheduled to retire Nov. 30, 2019. With the support of his family, he said, he has been able to support the Ohio National Guard’s federal mission to defend the homeland and will be able to retire after a successful career as a citizen-soldier.

Commander Describes Exercise Trident Juncture Effort, Planning

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- NATO is preparing for its largest military exercise since 2002, with more than 40,000 personnel from 30 NATO and partner counties participating.

The NATO commander of the exercise, Navy Adm. James G. Foggo III, briefed reporters on the planning for Exercise Trident Juncture 2018 at NATO headquarters in Brussels yesterday. Foggo is the commander of NATO’s Joint Force Command based in Naples, Italy. He’s also commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa.

Norwegian navy Vice Adm. Ketil Olsen, his nation’s military representative to the NATO Military Committee, also briefed.

Deterrent, Defense

The aim of the exercise is to provide a deterrent effect and defense against “any threat, from any direction, at any time,” Foggo said.

Trident Juncture demonstrates that NATO is relevant, united and ready to defend itself employing collective defense, Foggo said. The exercise’s scenario posits a violation of the sovereignty of a NATO ally -- in this case, Norway.

Under NATO’s Article 5, collective defense means an attack on one ally is considered as an attack against all allies.

The main exercise is scheduled for Oct. 25 to Nov. 7 in and around Norway with a preliminary exercise in the waters off Iceland Oct. 15-17.

Personnel from all U.S. services will participate in the exercise. Sweden and Finland will also participate.

The core of the exercise is the NATO Response Force. The exercise will serve to qualify force the force as combat ready. “Within this exercise we will have the 5,000-person Spearhead Force -- the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force exercising in Norway,” Foggo said.

Challenging Exercise

Trident Juncture will be a challenge, Olsen said.

“Statistically, there will be rain and/or snow and wind. And, there actually might be a lot of it,” he said.

Foggo said the exercise will also test alliance logistics capabilities to land a large force and sustain that force.

“The plan is to upsize the Joint Force Headquarters with a larger contingent of logisticians,” he said.

NATO “is about defend and deter,” Foggo said. “We don’t look for reasons to conduct offensive operations, anywhere. It’s a defensive alliance. That’s what Article 5 is all about.”

Much of the exercise planning has taken place in the unclassified realm, including the dates of the exercise and the relative size of the national contingents, Foggo said.

“One of NATO’s strengths is we have nothing to hide,” he said. “This is a demonstration in a very transparent way of a capability, and we want people to know that.”