Tag Archives: Wyoming Army National Guard

Wyoming Soldiers compete in Best Warrior Competition

CAMP GUERNSEY JOINT TRAINING CENTER, Wyo. – Anticipation heated up when soldiers from the Wyoming Army National Guard started reporting for the Best Warrior Competition at Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center, Wyo., on April 8, 2021. After months of training, planning and logistics, the time had come. Soldiers, support staff and sergeants major gathered together to begin the competition.

Normally, there are around 25 participants, but his time around, only seven came to compete. The BWC is not for the faint of heart. It tests you physically and mentally. Participants are tested on their knowledge of warrior tasks and drills, everything from weapons and combatives, to land navigation.  Competitors go non-stop with little sleep, moving from one event to the next with barely a break in between.

As soon as the brief for the competition ended, evaluations began. Three grueling days pushed the soldiers to their limits. The events are designed to test a soldier’s ability to perform in a combat-like environment. Early mornings to late nights left the competitors exhausted, like when you end a land navigation event around 1 a.m. and wake up again at 4 a.m. to get on a bus to start a six mile ruck march.

Besides starting some familiarization training a few months prior to the competition, most of the competitors only have a basic knowledge of these events. Some haven’t had to do any since basic combat training. The weapon systems especially. A good portion of guard soldiers only qualify on the rifle once a year, and that’s it. Another goal of this competition is for the soldiers to use the knowledge they’ve gained in all of these events and take it back to their units.

“Coming here and having the sergeants major and the non-commissioned officers teach us hands-on warrior tasks, then letting us execute is helpful. Their critiques allows us to refine our skills,” said Sgt. Tyler Holloway, a fire support specialist with the 115th Field Artillery Brigade. “It’s great baseline training that I want to take back to my unit.”

There were a couple of injuries along the way, but all seven competitors made it through to the end. All in all, every competitor said that it was a challenging and fun experience. Even though they were competing against each other, they also supported each other through every event.

“Yeah, we’re trying to beat each other, but at the end of the day you don’t want to have that butting of heads, or that cutthroat mentality against your brothers,” said Spc. Tyler Long, a satellite communication systems operator-maintainer with the 148th Signal Company. “Camaraderie is key in this competition.”

They were all very close at the end of the competition in terms of points. Staff Sgt. Josh Barry of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Regiment and Spc. Aiden Carroll of 133rd Engineer Company came out on top. They were named NCO of the Year and Soldier of the Year respectively. Barry and Carroll will head to Oregon in May to compete in the regional Best Warrior Competition.

The competitors:
Staff Sgt. Josh Barry of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Regiment
Sgt. Tyler Holloway of 115th Field Artillery Brigade
Sgt. Joseph Ogirima of 133rd Engineer Company
Sgt. Jerry Selby of 960th Brigade Support Battalion
Sgt. Wayde Phelps of 960th Brigade Support Battalion
Spc. Aiden Carroll of 133rd Engineer Company
Spc. Tyler Long of 148th Signal Company

94th Troop Command welcomes new commander

94th Troop Command welcomed their new commander, Lt. Col. Marko Rubich, on Nov. 14, 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the change of command ceremony that had been planned to be held in Cheyenne, Wyo. was cancelled in order to comply with local state and health guidelines. Rubich took over command from Lt. Col. Toby Alkire.

Alkire, who served as the 94th’s commander for almost three years, will be moving on to become the Joint Director of Operations in Cheyenne.

“I’m really going to miss this position,” Alkire said. “I am leaving with a heavy heart. We have some of the best leaders in the Wyoming Army National Guard in Troop Command.”

Alkire felt a good majority of the success he found at the 94th came from the exceptional command teams, leadership, and full time staff that were there. He was especially thankful for Command Sgt. Maj. Lindsay Schmidt who helped him throughout his command. He felt that he couldn’t have asked for better people to work alongside.

Alkire also said he is going to miss working with the wide variety of units 94th has, but looks forward to working with domestic operations and Homeland Security. He has no fears that the new commander of 94th will do great.

Rubich previously served with the 115th Field Artillery Brigade where he was the deputy commander. He has been a member of the Wyoming National Guard since 2013, after transferring from active duty.

“The command relationship with soldiers is special compared to almost any role you might have,” Rubich said. “It’s an honor to be able to command 94th Troop Command.”

As commander, Rubich plans to focus on individual soldier readiness, deployment readiness and improving and maintaining relationships with the other units that the 94th is aligned to train with.

Throughout his 16 years in the military, Rubich said he has been a part of many units similar to those that fall under the 94th. He hopes to be able to further the units and help them to become better than they were before.

“This is a privilege that only comes around a couple of times in an officer’s career,” he said, “and my door is always open. I am here for every soldier in the formation, all they need to do is pick up the phone and call me.”

Interview with Staff Sgt. Kari Brafford: Celebrating National American Indian Heritage Month

The Wyoming National Guard is celebrating National American Indian Heritage Month by paying tribute to the culture and heritage of these remarkable Americans who deeply enrich the quality and character of our Nation. 

For this month’s observance, I spoke with Staff Sgt. Kari Brafford, a Human Resources Specialist, who has served 10-years in the Wyoming Army National Guard. Throughout her career, she has held the position of State Master Fitness Trainer and is currently the Training non-commissioned officer (NCO) for Joint Force Headquarters in Cheyenne, Wyo.

Brafford is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. She explains what this month means to her and how her Native American heritage has played a role in serving.

Q: What does National American Indian Heritage Month mean to you?

It means the celebration of people that helped us evolve into who we are today. Many of the foods we eat and the medicines and remedies we use were introduced by American Indians. Many of our highways that establish our routes today follow an Indian trail. Our literature and our arts draw upon Indian themes and wisdom. Countless American Indians have served in our Armed Forces and have fought valiantly for our country.

 

Q: Do you know about your family history? 

Yes! I have a lot of family history here in Fort Laramie, Wyoming where I currently live. My ancestors and family were the first Native American people to work with the settlers as they came through. They were also part of the many treaties and agreements that we read about today in history, such as the Treaty of Fort Laramie or the Sioux Treaty of 1868. I am also the great-granddaughter of Chief Stephen Standing Bear. He was an Oglala Sioux tribe Chief, as well as a famous actor in the Wild West Buffalo Bill show.

Q: How has your heritage has played a role in your military service? 

The Akicita is the Lakota word for warrior. That spirit has been passed to me from my ancestors. It has always guided me to be brave. Native Americans have a great understanding of defending one’s land and that inherent belief led me to my military career. I feel that Native Americans play an important role in the military as they serve at a higher rate of 19% compared to 14% of all other ethnicities. No matter the conflict, American Indian men and women continue to risk their lives for the very government that once tried to eradicate their way of life. That also says a lot about their character and integrity. I hope to continue to be a role model for all Native American people and the Army has provided me a great opportunity to do so.

Q: What do you do in the civilian world?

I am a part-time college Business Instructor with NICC (Nebraska Indian Community College) out of Macy, NE. I took this position specifically because I get to “give back” to my people. Many of my students are disadvantaged socially, economically, and financially. I mentor at the college to help students with their career and education paths. I also enjoy time with my family, especially my new grandchild. She reminds me that life is simple in nature. I love to travel and see new things! I also work on the ranch and farm.

Q: Do you ever feel as though you live in two worlds, Indian and Non-Indian?

I do feel that culturally speaking Native American people believe in a different way of life than what they currently live on the reservations. My grandmother was raised in a catholic school on the Pine Ridge reservation and always told me that “Life is what you make of it.” She inspired me to demand better for myself. I take a personal interest in helping Native American youth see the advantage of education to make their lives better. I grew up in a disadvantaged world and made it to where I am today with furthering my education!

 

Field artillery conducts live-fire exercise

The 2-300th Field Artillery Battalion (FAB) of the 115th Fires Brigade conducted a live-fire exercise with their high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) last Tuesday. The exercise is the culmination of their annual training in which they are required to qualify with the system every year. But what many may not know is the amount of preparation that goes on before the rockets even fire.

Before firing, they must adhere to strict safety procedures. Fire Direction Officer 2nd Lt. Matthew Buchanan creates and performs the missions for the launchers and also preforms safety analysis.

“I coordinate with range control and build a safety diagram for this range, from and to our desired target,” Buchanan says. “Before the launchers can shoot, they need to verify where they are pointed to make sure they are pointed in a safe direction.”

All of this can be coordinated from a specific location. The Tactical Operations Center (TOC) is the central area where all of the preparation and communication happens. You know when the rockets are about to fire if you are standing near the area as you will start to hear excited chatter over the radios and finally, “Fire when ready!”

Soldiers are given four rockets and are required to hit a target 9,500 meters away in order to qualify. Normally there are 16 HIMARS that fire four rockets each for qualification. This time, there are only four.

This was a different type of annual training for the 2-300th as most of the Soldiers are either deployed or just coming back from deployment, so the number of Soldiers at training is much lower. Because of this, they were able to fire the rest of the rockets, 66 in total, for extra practice between the four HIMARS that were used.

“This is to ensure we are lethal and capable of doing our missions on the battlefield,” says Battalion Operations Officer Maj. Casey Henry. “They’re going through all of their certification processes to ensure that we can deploy and go to war.”

This was the first time the unit fired in this particular location. The unit continued their live-fire training and finished at the end of the week.

Strength in Modernization

The Wyoming Army National Guard (ARNG) conducts a ceremony in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Feb. 24, 2020, to recognize a team of Soldiers and civilians that worked together to make it possible to “go live” in the Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army (IPPS-A) human resources system.

The IPPS-A team traveled from Arlington, Va., to spend approximately three weeks with ARNG personnel in preparing for the Army’s next-generation human resources and pay system that transforms the way the Army does business and brings the Total Force into the digital age. IPPS-A integrates personnel and pay while providing three main capabilities: Total Force Visibility, Talent Management, and Auditability.

Maj. Gen. Greg Porter, adjutant general, Wyoming National Guard, thanked those involved, for successfully leading the way in modernization and changing how we interact with our Soldiers.

To learn more about IPPS-A, the Army’s future online HR, Pay and Talent Management solution to provide integrated capabilities across all Army Components, visit:

IPPS-A website: http://www.IPPS-A.army.mil
IPPS-A Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/armyippsa/