Tag Archives: Wyoming Army National Guard

An Interview with SSG 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/