|Personnel||Adjutant General's Biography||Command Message||TAG Policies|
Greetings. I am Brig. Gen. Jack James, commander of the 53rd Troop Command, and it is my honor to provide this quarter’s edition of From the Leadership.
I’m grateful to our adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, for this opportunity to communicate directly with you, the men and women of our New York Military Forces.
As General Shields has noted, 2020 has shaped up to be a year like no other. We are now over six months into the COVID-19 pandemic which has changed just about everything about how we live and work. The widespread civil unrest we’ve experienced across the country in the aftermath of the tragic death of George Floyd, and the economic downturn have posed generational challenges which are still unfolding. And yet, even in these troubling times, we find inspiration and hope. The greatest thing I’ve seen in 2020 is the truly incredible response of the members of our Army and Air National Guard, Naval Militia and New York Guard to the call of our fellow citizens at a time when they needed us most.
Our Soldiers, Airmen, Naval Militia and New York Guardsmen responded in force to the myriad of challenges posed by COVID-19: manning test sites across the state; managing warehouses jammed with supplies and moving them where they were needed; distributing meals and hand sanitizer to our fellow citizens; creating a field hospital at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center; and leading efforts to recover our deceased fellow Americans in a dignified manner.
To each of you who played a role in these and other important missions, I thank you and your families. I am truly in awe of your dedication and commitment. Each of you stared an invisible enemy in the face, and answered the call when the people of New York needed you most.
But the mission is not yet over. Even today, we have over 1,100 service members on duty providing manning test sites, providing physical security, providing warehouse support, and other missions. This important work will continue at least through the end of 2020.
I am proud to be a member of a responsive, learning organization that not only met the challenge of COVID-19 head on, but also adapted quickly to a “new normal” to sustain and build readiness. At the height of the crisis, we instituted “virtual” drills weekends. By July we returned to physical drill weekends and annual training by employing safety measures that include social distancing, wearing of masks, and enhanced emphasis on sanitization and hygiene.
While the changes may have taken some getting used to, they are foundational to keeping our members safe and healthy as we return to individual and collective training. Our ability to continue to generate combat power and deploy formations in this new environment was vividly demonstrated by the outstanding pre-mobilization training of the 466th Area Support Medical Company under the leadership of Maj. Jason Cossey and 1st Sgt. Scott Kyle.
The Soldiers of the 466th literally wrote the book on training in a socially distanced environment. After mobilizing and moving to Fort Hood, these great Soldiers are now deployed overseas performing their wartime mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. We look forward to their progress on this mission, and welcoming them home in 2021.
The New York National Guard leadership team is counting on each of you to stay healthy. We cannot perform our wartime or domestic missions if we are not well. This means we each of us must continue to follow COVID-19 health guidelines; avoiding large crowds, staying home when you feel sick and above all wearing a protective face mask. A Soldier or Airman can’t train and can’t deploy when he or she is sick. I ask each of you to be a battle buddy for your fellow service members, and to continue to follow health guidance at all times.
As we navigate through these challenges, our command teams will increasingly pivot our efforts to returning to individual and collective training.
Given the extended COVID-19 response, I ask all leaders to re-emphasize safety and risk management. It is critical that we follow a crawl-walk-run approach to all training. This is particularly important in operating our tactical vehicles. Leaders: let’s make sure that we provide our Soldiers and Airmen with the drivers training and time behind the wheel they need, and the supervision they deserve, to build their skill and confidence in a risk managed environment.
Thanks again to each of you for all you do! Please extend my thanks and best wishes for continued good health to your families as well.
Mission First! Soldiers Always!