Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The View From Fort Bragg

I’ve returned to Fort Bragg for PSYOP Regimental Week hosted once again by the 4th PSYOP Group. The week kicked off yesterday with a formal ceremony in a Group formation. I had never seen an entire PSYOP Group in one place before since Reserve units are scattered and only symbolic group formations are executed. It was an impressive sight.

The mood was serious. The CDR’s exhortations to focus and esprit de corps echoed through the Pine trees. COL Boyd, the 4th POG CDR set the stage for PSYOP Regimental week by urging each soldier to make the most of the varied schedule through active participation. Events ranged from open houses to explain missions and accomplishments, to athletic events such as runs, a softball tournament, combatives and some not so traditional contests as speed chess and a Language skills event.

Competitive events were complemented by lectures and presentations by experts in their fields and a host of social events culminating in a formal evening later in the week.
I’m no longer surprised at how young soldiers look. However, I was surprised by their high level of poise and confidence. Assignments ranging from the dangerous to the highly political have produced a force that is smarter, more culturally agile and anxious to make a difference.
Of particular note to me was the comparatively small number of female soldiers to the total. The number of female soldiers quite small compared to my years in PSYOP. Having said this, the exceptional contribution of female PSYOP soldiers seems geometrically out of proportion with their numbers. In speaking with several soldiers I’ve learned that they have worked in a variety of challenging situations requiring courage, intellectual flexibility and technical skills.

In combat situations PSYOP female soldiers have distinguished themselves for bravery and dedication unparalleled in the branch’s short history. One such soldier routinely assisted combat forces on many missions to be able to deal with any female detainees. These missions were not part of her job description and were always ‘outside the wire’. She was rewarded with the Army Commendation Medal by being authorized to wear the combat patch of the unit she worked with – probably the only or at least one of the very few females ever being authorized to do so. One officer remarked that the authorization for that patch was the equivalent to the Bronze Star in other units.

I would be proud and honored to have my granddaughter be a part of this elite group in the future.


susan said...

This sounds like a great occasion for soldiers to get together and share their very justifiable pride in themselves and their accomplishments.

An American Falls soldier came home on leave yesterday. His transport took three days. He's been serving in Baghdad since last September; his specialty is linguistics, so I believe he's also PSYOP...? In any case, his large extended family was there to greet him at the Pocatello airport with hugs, kisses, and tears. The media from American Falls and Pocatello were on hand to record the event and shake SGT Martineau's hand.

SGT Martineau also received a big hug from the granddaughter you hope will follow in your footsteps.

There are a lot worse things she could do, that's for sure. And she might be able to prepare for the Army, but can the Army prepare for her?

E-5 @ POG said...

not related to this post: it would be great to see a blog post about this article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/06/AR2009060602144.html

keep up the good work