February 25, 2009

Virginia Adjutant General and Command Sergeant Major visit Iraq and Kuwait

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr. visits Virginia Guard Troops in Iraq

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia,  visits with the Soldiers from the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company Feb. 26. Newman and Virginia Army National Guard Command Sgt. Major Carl Holcomb visited Virginia National Guard Soldiers on federal active duty in Iraq a week-long trip from Feb. 16 to 22. (Photo by Sgt. Charles C. Jones, 180th Engineer Company)

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers serving on federal active duty in Iraq and Kuwait are seamlessly working side by side with their active duty counterparts, and Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Holcomb, the Virginia Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major, got to see first hand just how well they are doing during a trip to Iraq and Kuwait conducted Feb. 16 to 21.

“During our trip I spoke with the leaders of the active duty units commanding our Virginia National Guard Soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait, and they had nothing but praise for how our Soldiers are doing,” Holcomb said. “The operations there are seamless. When you walk into a work area, you can’t tell who is active duty and who is National Guard. Our Soldiers are doing remarkable things.”

Newman and Holcomb were able to visit the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, the Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company and the Manassas-based Computer Emergency Response Team during their trip.

“It was good to see first hand what our Soldiers are doing,” Holcomb said. “Across the board, morale was high in all the units. I can’t say enough about what a great job they are doing and how proud I am of them.”

The 180th Engineers have a horizontal construction mission and have been busy working with Air Force and Navy engineers building logistics bases. With the horizontal construction mission, the Virginia Guard engineers have been building roads and preparing build sites, and then the Air Force and Navy engineers construct and refurbish buildings. Holcomb said that since their arrival in January, the 180th has helped build three separate logistics bases and are hard at work on a fourth.

The 266th Military Police Company has the mission of mentoring and training the Iraqi police. Holcomb said the Soldiers from the unit have been working outside of their operation base and in the towns and communities working with Iraqi police. While some Soldiers in Iraq are living in built up areas with many “creature comforts,” Holcomb said the 266th MPs are operating in a more austere environment.

“They are doing a great job and making the most of what they have,” Holcomb said.

Virginia Guard Leaders visit Virginia National Guard Soldiers in Iraq

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Virginia Army National Guard Command Sergeant Maj. Carl Holcomb visit with Soldiers from the Manassas-based Computer Emergency Response Team during their trip to Iraq and Kuwait Feb. 16-21. (Photo courtesy Computer Emergency Response Team)

The Computer Emergency Response Team is assisting with network security throughout the entire Central Command area of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, Holcomb said. “The Soldiers in the CERF are helping make sure there is no interruption in network capacity through the entire area of operations,” Holcomb said.

With each unit visit, Newman and Holcomb received a mission briefing from the unit’s leadership and then had a chance to meet with Soldiers in small groups and spend time with them at meals, Holcomb said. He additionally met with Soldiers one-on-one if they needed to address a particular issue.

Holcomb said he was able to identify some finance and administrative issues, and now that he is back in Virginia, he is working to find solutions for the issues.

For Holcomb, the trip to Iraq and Kuwait came just a year after his return from serving at the command sergeant major for the 116th Brigade Combat Team.

“The trip brought back a lot of memories,” Holcomb said. “Sometimes it felt like I had never even left.”

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