Oct. 20, 2011
Virginia leaders visit Soldiers in Afghanistan
By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs
SANDSTON, Va. — Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Green, the State Senior Enlisted Leader, visited Virginia National Guard Soldiers currently deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Oct. 11- 16. The top Virginia leaders travelled to Afghanistan where they met with Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division’s two Security Partnering Teams in Kabul and the 116th Brigade Combat Team Headquarters Company in Zabul.
Maj. Gen. Daniel Long Jr. and Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Green are presented propellers from the 116th Brigade
Combat Team Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems platoon at Forward Operating Base Lagman Oct. 16. (Photo by Maj. Nevin Blankenship, 116th BCT Public Affairs)
While in Kabul, the two had the chance to meet with both teams from the 29th ID Security Partnering mission. The first team began federal service Nov. 1, 2010 and will be replaced by the second team that began active duty Sept. 11, 2011. The first team is scheduled to return to the United States at the end of October.
“We had the opportunity to visit with the leadership of both groups and we had the opportunity to visit with many of the Soldiers and had lunch with them,” said Long. “We participated in an award ceremony where I pinned on approximately 75 ribbons for the folks getting ready to come home.”
Alongside other adjutants general and their senior enlisted counterparts, the two Virginians accompanied Maj. Gen. Myles Deering and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Jensen from Oklahoma, and Maj. Gen. Kevin McBride and Command Sgt. Maj. John McDonough from Rhode Island to meet the 116th Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Lagman Oct. 16.
Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Green, the Virginia National Guard Senior Enlisted Leader, visits Virginia National Guard Soldiers at FOB Lagman during a trip to Afghanistan Oct. 11- 16. Green joined Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, on the trip to meet with Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division’s two Security Partnering Teams in Kabul and the 116th Brigade Combat Team Headquarters Company in Zabul. (Courtesy Photo)
During lunch with the troops from the 116th BCT, Long presented combat patches to four Soldiers.
“Giving Soldiers their combat patch, makes me proud to be part of the National Guard,” said Long.
While visiting the Soldiers in Afghanistan, the Virginia leaders had the chance to see how the Soldiers stay in touch with their families back home using modern technology and by relying on the public affairs assets within the units to disseminate information to the Family Readiness Group leaders in Virginia.
“On my walk-through of the FOB, they said, ‘Right here is the Skype room,’” said Green. “They actually have a little video that goes over the computer to chat with people across the world. I know the time is limited, but they have facilities dedicated and you can sign up for time and have X amount of minutes to talk to your family.
Green said one Soldier told him he was able to sit down and join his daughters for breakfast several times before they went to school.
“That was pretty neat,” he said.
The idea behind the visit was to give the senior leaders face-to-face interaction with the Virginia Soldiers, and make sure they are having their needs met and insure the training they have received prepared them to do their jobs effectively in a combat theater.
“These trips are critical for senior leaders,” said Long. “One of the things I wanted to do was check and make sure that the kinds of training that we provided before and during their post-mobilization training was the right training for their specific mission.
“It’s easy for us to lose focus on what they are doing over there because there are so many issues that we are dealing with here. So, this trip helps keep their mission on our front-burner, and I think having deployed myself, I think it helps remind me of the kinds of things you have to deal with.”
“I think the key is, anytime you can do a face-to-face engagement and thank people for what they are doing, not only for the Virginia Guard, but for the U.S. Army and the United States military is huge,” said Green. “We are concerned about the welfare and morale of Soldiers. Are they contributing to the mission that they are being assigned; are they effectively doing that mission?”
Additional reporting by Maj. Nevin Blankenship, 116th Brigade Combat Team