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Message To The Force

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. David Mikolaities

This week the New Hampshire National Guard will be recognized as one of the best "companies" in the state to work for in 2022 after placing 8th in NH Business Magazine's annual contest.

What a fitting way to end the training year.

It's the second time in as many tries our organization has achieved the distinction, a direct reflection of the culture we have fostered through hard work, accountability and respect for one another. Each of you deserve credit for this outstanding achievement.

As we grapple with an onerous recruiting market, it's more important than ever that we maintain the high standards of readiness we have set for ourselves, and what the citizens of this great state have come to expect and appreciate.

After two years of pandemic-driven operations, our performance in FY22 has been anything but a reset under the Mission Triad of fighting and winning our nation's wars, securing the homeland and building enduring partnerships. Especially, the last quarter.

Fighting and Winning Our Nation's Wars

The headquarters battery of the 197th Field Artillery Brigade is nearing the halfway mark of its deployment as the field artillery headquarters for U.S. Army Central Command, which includes Jordan, Syria, Qatar and Kuwait.

The 197th FAB has become the standard bearer for field artillery superiority in the Middle East since its first deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. Then, the brigade was conducting security operations in an area of responsibility about the size of a county or two in New Hampshire. Three deployments later, HHB is performing its core mission, coordinating fires across multiple countries. Instead of dealing with local tribal leaders, the brigade's mid to senior leadership is engaging with senior military leaders up to the national level.

Within the same AOR, a three-man crew from the 1986th Contingency Contracting Team has been supporting contracting activities for CENTCOM in Kuwait.

We also have an officer stationed in Germany for a two-year tour with U.S. Army Europe.

In the coming months, another 460 NHARNG soldiers are preparing for deployments in support of the Southwest Border Mission and Operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield. One of our medical officers is scheduled for a rotation in support of the ongoing U.S. mission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The NHANG has one airman stationed in Kuwait with another seven preparing to deploy later this year. At Pease, we welcomed back the active associate wing after a three-year deactivation. The return of the 64th Air Refueling Squadron this summer coincides with the full complement of KC-46A aircraft coming online. The 64th is expected to grow to 160 airmen by December 2023.

Securing The Homeland

During the summer, we completed two innovative readiness training exercise or IRTs, an ingenious program that leverages annual training requirements with tangible benefits to local communities. Soldiers from Detachment 1, 185th Engineer Support Company constructed a much-needed dishwashing station at Greenfield State Park, and a joint New Hampshire Army and Air Guard medical team provided Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, with more than a quarter of million dollars' worth of health care during a two-week medical readiness mission.

Since April, NHARNG medevac crews have supported 10 search and rescue missions with Fish and Game.

Additionally, we fielded a volunteer search and rescue team. More than 40 soldiers and airmen have signed on to help our state partners fill a gap in coverage of the state's southern tier. Last month, the NHNG VSAR joined teams from across the state for a day of familiarization and training led by Fish and Game, State Police, and our NHARNG aviators.

In July, Senior Airman Amy Granfield, a public health technician with the 157th Medical Group, reminded us of what it truly means to serve when she saved the life of a severely injured jet skier on Long Pond in Pelham. To control profuse bleeding, Granfield applied a tourniquet she fashioned from her water ski line. She credited her quick thinking to a combination of military training and clinic site work.

Enduring Partnerships

After a bit of a COVID hiatus, our state partnership program has returned to prominence with a renewed focus on our long-standing alliance with El Salvador and a promising start to our new relationship with Cabo Verde. Under the steady hand of SPP coordinator Capt. Mario Rey, we completed a string of successful key leader engagements with both countries. We also conducted inaugural exchanges with the Salvadoran military's cyber security division and officer academy.

In August, Gov. Chris Sununu signed Senate Bill 360, which makes Guard spouses eligible for tuition waivers at any state community college. This is the first of what we hope will be many advantages we can pass on to our spouses and families to help bolster reenlistments as well as recruitments.

The NHNG was also one of six states recently chosen for a pilot program that will provide free day-care during drill weekends. Additionally, we are planning to unveil a wellness program that will provide a stipend for a gym membership or exercise equipment for eligible guardsmen and women.

Last week, the state veterans cemetery celebrated its 25th anniversary, a momentous occasion that followed the passing the Burial Equity for the Guards and Reserves Act. The new law, passed in June, allows those who served in the Guard and Reserves to be buried in state veterans cemeteries alongside their brothers and sisters in arms.

As we begin a new training year, I am confident we are well positioned for whatever might arise or we are called upon to do. There is no doubt that recruiting remains our biggest concern. Our common denominator is selfless service. It's what inspires us to keep wearing the uniform. Indeed, it's our greatest passion and biggest draw. All of us must make a concerted effort through our words and actions to appeal to next generation of citizen soldiers and airmen. The future Amy Granfields are out there, ready to do their part.

Thank you for answering the call and for making the NHNG one of the most revered organizations in the state. It continues to be my honor and fortune to serve alongside you.

Sincerely,

Major General David Mikolaities
Adjutant General
New Hampshire National Guard