11/19/2019 | By Brig. Gen. Tony Wright Commanding, 98th Training Division (IET)
From the 98th Training Division (IET) Commander
I enlisted in 1983 as a cannon crewman and my first duty station was Fort Polk, Louisiana. I learned a lot about the Army there, but more importantly, I discovered the camaraderie that is the Army. My intent was to complete my initial contract and then attend college. However, shortly after returning home, I realized the mark the Army left on me, and I missed the deep friendships and sense of membership I had found in uniform. I became determined to reenter the Army, but this time as an officer where I felt I could impact Soldiers, while still accomplishing the mission.
I received my commission as a distinguished military graduate from Ohio University with a regular Army commission as a Field Artillery officer. I served for more than seven years and learned from some truly amazing and dedicated NCOs. As my wife Valerie and I started have children, I made the decision to leave active duty and transferred to the IRR while I started my business and purchased a farm in Oklahoma. Once again, I quickly missed the officers and Soldiers who were such a part of my life and began looking for a Reserve unit to join.
As an artillery officer, I ended up in the 95th Training Division at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, working with drill sergeants for the first time. There, I served at the battalion, brigade, and division levels, and even as a unit administrator for a period of time.
From these experiences, I believe I understand our mission set and many of the challenges we face. I have been away from the drill sergeant environment for several years now as a Brigade Commander for the Southern Division of the 75th Training Command and as the Deputy Commanding General of the 88th Readiness Division. Both of those opportunities enabled me to broaden my understanding of the Army Reserve and how we support the Army.
Now, as I join the 98th Training Division team, I see that our greatest current challenge is drill sergeant production, which includes recruiting. Readiness is a priority for both the Army and Army Reserve. We must be ready to be relevant, and in order to be ready, we need to have enough qualified and available drill sergeants to accomplish both our peacetime and wartime missions. I understand that production is the most challenging task for us. I do not believe there is a simple solution or a silver bullet out there. This will take a multi-faceted approach with multiple lines of effort. The G-3 is currently working on a Production Campaign Plan and we are working with brigades, battalions, and companies to develop a comprehensive approach that still allows for flexibility at the company level to tailor the production effort to the region. We understand recruiting in New York City will be different than rural Alabama or Kentucky.
Regardless of location, one thing is certain though. We cannot be successful without a team effort. It will take every Soldier, of every rank and job, to contribute. I ask you all to think about our mission and challenges. How does your role contribute? Is there something different that you and your section/peers can do?
I know the Army Reserve asks a great deal from each and every one of us. And I know it has become increasingly difficult to balance it all with your families and civilian careers. So, I am not asking you for MORE necessarily. I am asking you for excellence. I simply want us all to be the best Soldiers we can be and operate as the most effective and cohesive team possible.
From what I have seen so far, there are a number of leaders in our ranks, and I believe we have a lot of great opportunities before us. I look forward to serving with each of you.