​CLAY NATIONAL GUARD CENTER, Marietta, Ga., July 10, 2016 – The 78th Troop Command, Georgia Army National Guard, hosted a change of command ceremony July 10 at the Clay National Guard Center.

The ceremony showcased the transition between the 78th Troop Command’s outgoing commander, Brig. Gen. Craig M. McGalliard, and the incoming commander, Col. Thomas H. Blackstock, Jr.

Approximately 200 Guardsmen, guests and family members attended the ceremony in order to recognize both McGalliard and Blackstock, as each officer plans to embark on a new career path.

After presenting roses to family members in attendance of the incoming and outgoing commanders, the event’s reviewing officer, Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Carden Jr., commanding general of the Georgia Army National Guard, recognized the important contributions of McGalliard and Blackstock through their previous commands.

“I’m thankful to have had his mentorship and leadership,” said Carden, referring to McGalliard. “I’m also very, very proud of Col. Blackstock's accomplishments.”

McGalliard received the Oglethorpe Distinguished Service Medal for his time as the commander. He recognized previous units he commanded and how the 78th Troop Command provides multiple assets to meet National Guard Bureau’s goals as well as additional assistance to the state.

McGalliard acknowledged that he has known Blackstock since they were both young captains.

“Colonel Blackstock reflects best with the Army values,” said McGalliard. “He is the right man for the job.”

Blackstock, who enlisted in the 78th Troop Command over 34 years ago, began by expressing his honor and excitement with taking command while also thanking his family, commanders and Soldiers. He also expressed how excited he is to take command.

“I never would have imagined 34 years ago that I would be standing in front of this formation as its commander,” said Blackstock.

Upon assuming command of the 78th Troop Command, Blackstock said he intends to focus on three areas of Soldier development to include individual Soldier readiness, leader development and the command climate.

“Let us never forget that Soldiers matter always,” said Blackstock as he wrapped up his speech to attendees.

While the 78th Troop Command prepares to continue under a new leader, Soldiers appreciate the positive impact from McGalliard.

“He is an outstanding leader, officer and gentleman,” said Command Sgt. Major Roy Marchert, Command Sgt. Major of the 78th Troop Command.

Story by Sgt. Jeremiah Simmons
124th MPAD
Georgia Army National Guard

Photo by Sgt. Michael Uribe
124th MPAD
Georgia Army National Guard

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​FORT KNOX, Ky., June 10, 2016 – Colonel Anthony Dill, the State Inspector General for the Georgia Department of Defense achieved another career milestone recently.

During the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps’ 100th anniversary celebration, the U.S. Army Cadet Command inducted Dill and 325 other awardees into the ROTC Hall of Fame.

More than 100 former cadets and other recipients’ family members attended the inaugural event and were presented with the honor during the organization’s centennial celebration on Brooks Field

The selected recipients were chosen by their respective alma mater’s ROTC program because they’ve made significant contributions in and out of service, as government and private sector leaders.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Hughes, the commanding general of cadet command remarked upon the wide range of accomplishments of those selected during the prestigious ceremony.

“When I look across at our Hall of Fame inductees on the field, I am reminded that they represent more than 2,500 years of collective Army service to our nation,” said Hughes. “All of our inductees are highly decorated veterans, from the Medal of Honor to the Nobel Peace Prize.”

The list of inductees was narrowed down from a pool of 650 thousand eligible names from the last century, and included a number of familiar leaders from recent American history. The roll call included historic retired generals like Gen. George C. Marshall and Gen. Colin Powell as well as National Football League Hall of Famer, Jim Brown. The current Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley was selected for the honor as well, representing Princeton University.

Dill, a University of West Florida graduate, modestly acknowledges his place amongst the other names, and remembers working for some of his fellow awardees. He also reflects on his three decades of experience with other Soldiers that helped to shape his career.

“It’s definitely humbling and you’re not even sure that you’re in the right place,” said Dill. “This [award] is probably more of a recognition of the great Soldiers that I got to work with over the years that helped me do well in the Army.”

Dill has been associated with military service long before he entered the ROTC program. His father, an aviator and transportation officer who started as an engineer in the Illinois National Guard, supported numerous of missions in Vietnam.

“I knew what the Army was, I thought it was really cool to go see the helicopters on the flight line, and I always thought in the back of my head I’d really like to do that,” said Dill. “On Halloween I’d wanna dress up in some Army stuff, which usually drove my dad crazy because he was really a strict stickler for uniformity.

The influencing decision to join the Army came after Dill’s family moved to Tehran, Iran in the late 1970s, after his father retired from the military and began working there. He witnessed a number of strange and intense situations over the few months they stayed in the volatile country. It was not uncommon to see deadly battles in the streets directly outside their apartment building. Dill and his three younger siblings were often in danger during their time in Iran. He used the experience as motivation.

“Watching my family get threatened, watching my sisters and little brother get threatened…it just really imparted upon me that I never want to be a victim,” said Dill. “That really just drove me even more to want to serve in the military.”

Dill earned his commissioned in 1988 while simultaneously drilling with the Florida National Guard. He completed his undergraduate degree at UWF in Pensacola and left his mark on a distinguished career, serving in leadership positions with a number of organizations to include special operations units. His deployments to the Middle East spanned the years from Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm through Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn.

“You start seeing the same places over and over again,” Dill said. “Coming back into Bagram Airfield or something, you see the buildup, you see the changes. Some things are the same, some things are different.”

Colonel Dill also served as the commander of the Golden Knights aerial demonstration team, a three-year job he considers the most challenging and rewarding of his career.

“You get to take the Army across the United States to places where there aren’t bases or there aren’t Soldiers and represent the Army, connecting America with its Army,” said Dill.

During his tenure with the Golden Knights, Dill was able to bring a National Guard Soldier onto the team, and oversaw the event when former President George H.W. Bush jumped with the team in 2009.

“Having the Secret Service hand off their most prized possession twice…it was a huge responsibility to not only demonstrate Army capability but to have the Secret Service put that trust in the Army to do that was pretty neat,” said Dill.

Recently, Dill completed his tenure as the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center in Fort Bragg, NC. After accepted a broadening assignment with the Georgia National Guard, he now works as the State Inspector General. The IG is responsible for conducting inspections, investigations, providing assistance, and teaching and training within the Georgia DoD.

“I’m very honored to be here. I’ve got a fantastic team of top notch NCOs and officers that are doing great things for the state and are able to identify trends and other issues within the organization or courses of action where we can make things better for our Soldiers,” said Dill.

This will likely be Col. Dill’s last job in uniform, and as advice to new Soldiers, he recommends they identify their unique motivations to drive them toward successful careers, in the same way he did.

“To have a good career in the Army you’ve gotta find the right place, the right assignment, or the right boss,” said Dill. “You’ve gotta find that thing that makes you come to work every day. As an officer, I just love working with Soldiers.”

Story and photo by Capt. Charlie Emmons
Public Affairs Office
Georgia National Guard

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YEREVAN, ARMENIA — A team of military civil engineers from Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, completed a humanitarian mission renovating a residential wing of a home for the elderly in Yerevan, Armenia, May 10-25.

Airmen from the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Wing and an active duty structural craftsman from the 461st Air Control Wing worked in partnership with Armenian contractors on a floor to ceiling renovation to improve the safety and living conditions of 12 residential suites with common areas at the Yerevan Elderly Institution No. 1.

The institution provides accommodation, food, clothes, health and psychological care to 236 residents who are over 65 years of age, alone and unemployed; and those over 18 years of age who need special care.

The project, part of the European Command Humanitarian Civic Assistance program, afforded the opportunity for the Airmen to complete essential skill-set training while providing the skills, tools, resources, and training so the Armenian people can continue to build their future, strengthen their society and develop social services.

“This mission provided real-life experience similar to the conditions we face when deployed,” said Maj. Tasha Liscombe-Folds, deputy commander of the 116th Civil Engineer Squadron and lead project engineer for the mission. “We were able to hone our skills and develop new skills for world-wide contingency operations and our domestic operations response at home.”

Overcoming challenges was part of the standard daily operating procedures for the civil engineers. Working side-by-side with Armenian contractors while communicating through a translator, limited supplies, scarce and unfamiliar tools were the norm.

“Coming to the construction site and not having all the supplies or the same tools we are used to was immensely beneficial for our readiness,” said Liscombe-Folds. “When we deploy to support domestic operations, and highways and power grids are shut down, or we deploy to a country where everything is completely different, we have to adapt and that’s exactly what we did here.”

While the project was fraught with challenges, the opportunity to build relationships, learn a foreign culture, and help people in need was a common theme echoed by the Airmen.

“It has been eye-opening, it is definitely different than American life,” shared Senior Airman Casey Ashley, on being over-seas for the first time. “It has been rewarding to be able to improve the residents quality of life.”

“I fixed a crack in a wall for a resident, she was very grateful and we formed a friendship,” said Ashley. “During my time here she taught me how to count in Armenian and I was able to learn some of her life story through old photographs she shared with me.”

Gratitude didn’t stop with the residents. Contractors, staff, and leadership expressed their appreciation throughout the project.

“We will be grateful for many years for the work you have done here,” said Khachik Sargsyan, director of Yerevan Elderly Institution No. 1. “The work carried out here will help our residents with hot water and heating and provide a safe and cleaning living environment.”

“This work began at our institution last year by the Kansas National Guard engineers and I would like to express my gratitude to them,” shared Sargsyan. “The Georgia Air National Guard is continuing this tradition and I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the 116th Civil Engineer Squadron.”

The Republic of Armenia signed a bilateral affairs agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense and the State of Kansas in 2003, establishing the Kansas-Armenia State Partnership Program, of which the Humanitarian Civic Assistance program is a part.

Towards the end of the project, the Airmen were recognized for their efforts as U.S. Army Europe Commander, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges and Kansas National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli visited the Yerevan Elderly Institution No. 1 to view the progress of the renovation.

“When I look at the talent here of young people from the United States that are here representing our country, working with Armenians, obviously I’m very proud of that,” said Hodges.

“As a fellow engineer, I will tell you the great thing about projects like this is this will last the test of time and you’ll have something you can reflect back on knowing you’ve been able to have an impact on a community here in Armenia,” added Tafanelli.

Story and photo by Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
116th Air Control Wing
Georgia Air National Guard

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848th Demo.jpg 

FORT STEWART, Ga., May 2, 2016 – Units of the 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade conducted Annual Training at Fort Stewart in April and May 2016. All units of the 648th MEB were present with the exception of the 1st Battalion 14th Field Artillery Regiment which had conducted one week of annual training in March.

348th BSB: The Trailblazers
In 2015, the 348th Brigade Sustainment Battalion "Trailblazers" successfully mobilized 75 vehicles from home station to Fort Stewart Georgia for annual training.  Returning to Fort Stewart in April 16-May 1, 2016, the 348th BSB assumed a Spartan footprint at Camp Oliver where it trained its core mission essential tasks.

As the BSB for the 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, the 348th BSB is comprised of a headquarters company, an organic alpha and bravo company, and an attached transportation company.

The Headquarters Company of the BSB provides mission command for organic and attached units assigned to the BSB. In addition to the operation. Within the Headquarters Company is the Support Operations Officer who is the principle officer responsible for synchronizing BSB distribution operations. The SPO develops the concept of support and logistics package (LOGPAC plan). Logpacs are bundles of commonly-used supply classes and vehicles organized into a single convoy.

Alpha company, serves as the distribution company and provides transportation and   supply support. The company provided fuel, ammunition and water to units of the 648th MED. In all, the company distributed over 14,000 gallons of fuel and approximately 8,000 gallons of water.

The Hinesville-based Bravo Company serves as the BSB's maintenance company, providing field-level maintenance support to the 648th MEB and supported units. Within the maintenance company is an allied trades section with specially-trained Guardsmen capable of fabricating custom metal work welding and engineering repairs.

Attached to the 348th, the Rome-based 1160th Transportation Company provides ground transportation for the movement of dry and refrigerated containerized cargo and other bulk cargo requirements. As part of the Army logistics modernization initiative, the 1160th TC received enhanced cargo handling units (ECHU) which were installed on company vehicles at the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site. The ECHU is a configuration of the Palletized Load System (PLS) truck that allows for the loading and unloading enables operators to load and unload containers without a flat rack. All Soldiers of the 1160th received training on the new system.

878th Engineers Blast Targets, Build and Demo Structures
The engineers of the Augusta-based 878th Engineer Battalion converged on Fort Stewart April 16-30, 2016 for annual training. Travelling from places such as Toccoa, Augusta and Douglasville, the engineers trained as they have for more than 60 years on the familiar Fort Stewart terrain.

In addition to completing required classroom training and administrative requirements, the engineers completed annual weapons qualification. While the engineers completed qualification on their assigned weapons, Company A (Forward Support Company) supervised the crew-served weapons range where Soldiers like Pfc. Samson Flavius of the 877th Engineer Company fired the M2 and Mk-19 machine guns.

Combat Engineers
Georgia Guardsmen from the Douglasville-based 848th Engineering Company (Sapper) indulged their combat engineering skills through demolitions training. In addition to conducting C4 detonation, 848th Guardsmen familiarized themselves with the Common Remotely Operated Weapon (CROW) and trained in ordnance identification and mine clearance procedures. The Soldiers practiced radio communication by sending nine-line medical evacuation reports, unexploded ordnance and IED reports.

Construction and Demolition
From the mountains of Toccoa, Ga., the 863rd & 874th Engineer Utilities Detachments. The Toccoa engineers brought their skills in carpentry, masonry, plumbing and electrical to multiple engineering projects, including reconstruction of a roof at the Georgia Garrison Training Center.

On April 28, 2016, four Toccoa engineers went aloft in a Georgia Guard CH-47 on a special mission. While airborne over Tybee Island, Staff Sgt. Jenifer Martinez, Sgt. Zachary Carithers, Sgt Gregory Waller and Spc. Jonathan Mantia reenlisted in the Georgia Army National Guard.

While the Toccoa engineers were building, The 177th Engineer Support Company and 175th Engineer Platoon were tearing structures down. The horizontal construction engineers and heavy equipment operators made short work of building 9313, a former laundromat. The engineers razed the structure and hauled all building materials – foundation included, to a landfill.

Maintaining Comms:  The 420th Network Signal Company
The Cumming-based 420th Network Signal Company transferred to the 648th MEB from the 560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade in September 2015. Despite being the newest unit in The MEB, the 420th had an immediate impact at annual training. The 420th not only trained all newly assigned personnel, they established and maintained a retransmission site in order to facilitate communication between the 348th BSB at Camp Oliver and the 878th Engineer Battalion at Taylor Creek. This retrains station was critical to the success of both battalions.

Story and photo by Capt. William Carraway
Public Affairs Office
Georgia Army National Guard

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FORT STEWART, Ga., April 24, 2016 – The Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site was bustling with activity as Soldiers of the 277th Support Maintenance Company assisted MATES technicians with equipment and vehicle work orders during annual training at Fort Stewart April 9 to23, 2016.  For the Guardsmen of the 277th, it was an opportunity to practice their and get hands-on experience.

"Annual training allows us to knock out maintenance and administration tasks," said 2nd Lt. Garrett Thompson, of the 277th MC. "Most important we get to train on our Military Occupation Skills and Soldiers have the opportunity to cross train."

Staff Sgt. Brandon King elaborated on the training plan of the 277th MC.

"We have a lot of troops here who have fallen into two areas of concentration. We have generator mechanics and we have construction equipment mechanics, water purification mechanics and they are all getting hands on vehicles and cross training conducting semi-annual and annual services."

The 277th Maintenance Company is a modular unit that provides field maintenance support at the brigade level and higher. Maintenance companies can be attached to a sustainment brigade headquarters or to a combat sustainment support battalion, such as the 110th CSSB in Georgia.

"We are a full-on sustainment company," said Staff Sgt. Brandon King of the 227th MC. "We are fully capable of sustaining larger units."

The 277th MC may be likened to a Jack-of-all-trades in that it is structured to provide a wide-degree of maintenance support to multiple unit sets and is therefore a very valuable asset in the field and particularly during overseas contingency operations. The 277th MC can recover wheeled vehicles, repair damaged equipment and armament, maintain and repair power generation equipment as well as electronic and signal equipment.

Before the unit had even reached Fort Stewart, the Guardsmen's skills were challenged. During convoy operations, one of the unit's modular kitchen's brakes locked up. The quick-thinking Guardsmen improvised a quick fix on the road to keep the vehicles rolling. A hatch broke on a second vehicle and upon arriving at Fort Stewart, the allied trades section provided a permanent repair.

The training and mission of the 277th MC provides Guardsmen with skills that have direct civilian equivalent, something Staff Sgt. King has personally observed.

"My experience in the construction equipment field transfers directly to careers at companies like Yancey and Caterpillar," noted King. "Our heavy wheeled mechanics also have skills that translate directly to civilian occupations."

While civilian employers of the 277th MC Guardsmen can realize a real benefit from skilled employers, the civilian skills Guardsmen use in their careers also benefit the Guard. In the complex modern battlefield, mechanical and technical skills can be critical to mission success. Whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, Guardsmen have used their civilian skills in mechanic, carpentry and repair to not only advance the military mission but to improve the quality of life of the civilian population.

Story and photo by Capt. William Carraway
Public Affairs Office
Georgia Army National Guard

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