Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur/Idaho Military Division Public Affairs
Idaho citizen-Soldiers and Airmen trained together May 18-19 to support a joint fire exercise that combined live mortars from the ground with close air support from above. Included were live bombs, missiles and combined effects munitions at Idaho’s premier training location, the Orchard Combat Training Center.
The Idaho Army National Guard’s 2nd of the 116th Combined Arms Battalion and the Idaho Air National Guard’s 124th Air Support Operations Squadron and 190th Fighter Squadron joined forces from the ground to the sky in the large-scale joint training event.
“Our battalion hasn’t had this level of training or this level of interoperability working with the Air Force before,” said Maj. John Gregory, 2-116 CAB operations officer. “We want to get to that level of proficiency working with each other, Army and Air, and provide ourselves the most lethal amount of force and mass effects in one space, at one time.”
Integrating the Idaho Air National Guard to bring combined effects on the battlespace started two years ago with dry run munitions. This year the exercise combined live munitions. 124th ASOS joint terminal attack controllers worked with the 2-116 CAB’s joint fire observers to direct targets with combined live-fire weapons engagement.
Idaho’s A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft dropped 500-pound bombs and other munitions in close air support for a combined effect after the ground forces engaged with the 120-millimeter self-propelled mortar explosives. This is the first time the A-10s dropped the live bombs at the OCTC as airpower support for the Idaho Army National Guard.
“Joint live-fire integration is the key to success on the battlefield of tomorrow,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy Donnellan, Assistant Adjutant General – Air. “The Soldiers and Airmen of the Idaho National Guard will continue to train together following the National Defense Strategy. The live-fire integration training conducted will give the ground commander the confidence they need to dominate the battlespace of the future aggressively.”
A variety of weapon platforms and munitions are used to attack enemy air defenses through the U.S. Department of Defense’s concept of suppression of the enemy air defense, or SEAD mission.
“We want to build on this training and make it a grander concept over the years to come,” said Capt. Jacob Bartlow, 2-116 CAB assistant operations officer. “We settled on a concept of the SEAD mission. This training turned out to be a great run and integrated all three units.”
The training will continue to become more robust each year. Bartlow plans to have several iterations of close air support from the A-10s in the future and possibly integrate F-15s from Mountain Home Air Force Base to support SEAD.
“In future joint fire exercises at the OCTC, we can include scouts to identify the enemy, bring in artillery, mortars and air defense to suppress the capabilities of the enemy so we can free the maneuver in another portion of the battlespace,” said Bartlow.
Located 18 miles south of Boise, Idaho’s OCTC has 143,000 acres of vast terrain and world-class ranges with a four-season climate, making it ideal for preparing units for combat in a challenging and realistic training environment.
“We have incredible training space here at the OCTC,” said Bartlow. “Ultimately, we envision Idaho as the National Guard’s premier location for joint fire integration.”
Idaho Military Division Public Affairs/Crystal Farris
Sgt. 1st Class Gladys Montelongo was a single mother raising three children and managing a Subway restaurant when she decided to change career path and join the Idaho Army National Guard at 28 years old in 2009.
“I felt I had more to offer and wanted to be a positive role model for my kids,” she said. “I knew joining the Guard would provide opportunities for myself and my family.”
Through the Idaho Guard, Montelongo has since received approximately $55,000 in enlistment and reenlistment bonuses; purchased her first home using a VA home loan; met her current husband and used her military tuition assistance to earn a bachelor’s degree at Boise State University.
“Before joining, I never imagined having the means to buy a house or earn a degree,” she said. “The money and opportunities are available in the Guard. Joining has helped me provide for my family and motivated me to do better.”
In April, Montelongo was promoted to sergeant first class as the culinary management noncommissioned officer for Golf Company, 145th Brigade Support Battalion.
She is also currently pursuing a master’s degree in legal studies at the American Military University. Montelongo said continuing her education and career advancement sets the right example for her four children and also the 11 Guardsmen who she manages at work.
“Being a mother and an Army leader is similar in my mind,” she said. “I show my kids the value of hard work and dedication and push them to be the best in what they do, just like I push my Soldiers to be the best they can be.”
One of Montelongo’s children currently manages a Little Caesar’s restaurant in Lewiston, Idaho, while her oldest son serves in the Idaho Army National Guard as a specialist with the organization’s 148th Field Artillery Regiment.
“Seeing my son follow in my footsteps gives me a proud feeling as a parent,” said Montelongo. “I believe my work ethic and service has positively contributed to his decisions.”
Although some aspects of leading a family and a group of troops overlap, leading Soldiers can be a lot different than managing individuals in a civilian job, she said.
“The difference between managing a Subway restaurant and a culinary section in the military is that I’m responsible for the wellbeing and career development of my subordinates,” said Montelongo. “My troops are a reflection of my leadership, which I provide through on-the-job mentorship, training and counseling.”
Montelongo developed her leadership through years of experience as a senior food service specialist and while in Army leadership courses, where she learned to provide Soldiers purpose and fulfillment, she said.
“I take the time to get to know my Soldiers and what motivates them,” said Montelongo. “I look out for them, make sure they have what they need and advocate for their best interests. When everyone feels good, they do good things and that’s the rewarding part.”
While preparing large-scale meals for hundreds of Soldiers during training, including in field environments from mobile kitchens, she also provides her subordinates with motivation by getting in the kitchen and showing them how to spice up recipes using bacon or rubs made from scratch.
“The job is demanding and its hard work, but very rewarding,” Montelongo said. “As cooks, we work early mornings and late nights preparing and serving meals, but Soldiers look forward to seeing us and getting a hot meal in the field. It’s a nice feeling knowing we get to provide that to them, so we make it fun and ensure the food always tastes good.”
Idaho National Guard, Idaho Army National Guard, National Guard, 145th Brigade Support Battalion, Mother’s Day, Women’s History Month
Idaho Military Division Public Affairs
(GOWEN FIELD) — The Idaho National Guard will send approximately 300 Soldiers and Airmen to Washington, D.C. in the coming days to assist district and federal agencies with the presidential inauguration. These Guardsmen will augment the Washington D.C. National Guard and serve in support of the U.S. Secret Service, the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating the event.
Personnel will begin departing from Gowen Field in Boise less than 72 hours after Gov. Brad Little approved the mission. The Nation’s Guard response could include an estimated 25,000 Guard members from all states and territories.
“The National Guard has participated in every presidential inauguration in our nation’s history,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, adjutant general of Idaho. “It is an honor to be a part of the tradition of ensuring the peaceful and orderly transition of national power; an act that separates us from many other countries across the world.”
Guardsmen will travel to Washington, D.C. via military airlift and contracted aircraft with standard government-issued equipment to perform a number of potential tasks to include security, communications, medical, logistics, and safety support to district and federal agencies. Nearly half of the National Guard task force will conduct security-related duties to include traffic control or by assisting visitors to proper assembly locations as well as entry and exit points.
The Idaho National Guard has planned for more than a month to send roughly a dozen personnel to the region in support of the inauguration. The increase in personnel is part of a new request to provide additional Guard support and represents roughly six percent of the Idaho National Guard force.
This deployment does not involve Soldiers and Airmen already working in their communities as part of the COVID-19 response effort. The Idaho National Guard will continue to maintain its capacity to provide emergency response in Idaho, whether it be a COVID surge, civil unrest, natural disaster or other emergency response function.
The Idaho National Guard has deployed out of state in support of national emergencies in the past. From Hurricane Katrina in 2005, wildland fire suppression in Oregon and Washington in 2015, to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria recovery support in 2017, the Idaho National Guard has provided hundreds of Soldiers and Airmen over the last decade in response to national emergencies.
More recently, last summer the Idaho National Guard sent Soldiers and helicopters to fight California wildfires and more than 400 Soldiers to Washington, D.C. to assist with civil unrest response. Additionally, the Idaho National Guard continues to provide state emergency relief here at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur, Idaho Military Division Public Affairs
Sgt. Sarah Field put on the Army uniform for her first time when she enlisted in June 2010, and 10 years later, she puts on that uniform with a little more pride as she is now the Idaho Army National Guard’s first certified female 19D cavalry scout instructor at the 1st Battalion, 204th Regional Training Institute (Armor) at Gowen Field.
Although she grew up in Boise, Idaho, Field started her military career in the Utah National Guard, while she attended college at Utah State University. During her time in the Utah National Guard she served one combat tour in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a chaplain assistant. Following her initial military training and deployment, Field graduated from USU in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation. After graduation, she transferred to the Idaho Army National Guard to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, to come back to her hometown.
In 2020, she transitioned into the combat arms, wanting to be a cavalry scout, with the seed planted in her mind of becoming a certified instructor. While assigned to the HHC, 2nd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, Field became a more experienced scout team member as a truck commander and Bradley gunner. On Dec. 4, Field became certified to instruct cavalry scouts in the Military Occupational Specialty – Reclassification course (MOS-R) and on Dec. 22, she became certified to instruct the Bradley Commander and Gunner Course (BCGC). Her next goal is to be certified as an instructor for the Advanced Leadership Course (ALC).
“Becoming a certified instructor can be a long process,” said Field. “First you must go through the specific class as a student, then shadow the class, and follow up by teaching specific lesson plans back to the instructors. Once you complete those steps you become a provisional instructor and teach the classes while you are being shadowed and evaluated. I am now certified in two of the three courses in just nine months.”
Field attended the MOS-R as a cavalry scout student in February 2020. She was the only female in the combat arms class of 12 students but she knew she had to get through the challenging course to be considered for an instructor position.
“The MOS-R course is demanding and extremely physically and mentally challenging,” said Field. “It starts off with a 12-mile ruck march, heavy physical demands testing, day and night land navigation and works up to the Gunnery Skills Testing. I was definitely nervous and afraid of failing, but I knew if I didn’t try then I would never know what I was capable of accomplishing in my career.”
The GST consists of testing on ammunition and vehicle identification, small and medium weapons systems and other Bradley platform specific tasks. Despite having little previous combat arms experience, Field went on to graduate the 19D MOS-R in March and the 19D BCGC and the 19D ALC in August, completing all of the courses the 19D instructors teach. She is now certified as the instructor for the two courses and is currently starting the process to be certified as the instructor for the 19D ALC.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity be the first female instructor here at the Regional Training Institute. I feel it is important to have diversity in the learning environment,” said Field. “We all have different experiences and can relate to others in different ways. I have been able to use my gifts and talents to enhance the ways I teach our curriculum at the schoolhouse, helping students overcome their own challenges and learn and grow as Soldiers.”
Today, more than three dozen former Marine Reservists enlisted into the Idaho Army National Guard. Idaho’s newest Citizen-Soldiers all served in Company C, 4th Tank Battalion, which was deactivated in August as the Marines look to divest its armor battalions.
“Marines make excellent Soldiers,” Brig. Gen. Farin Schwartz, commander of the Idaho Army National Guard said. “They each have the potential to make an immediate impact to their new unit and have already proven to be successful in the military.”
New recruits can take six to eighteen months to train before they can reach their assigned unit and once there, must continue to train and learn their new job before they can fully contribute to their unit’s mission. Most of the Marines who transferred into the National Guard will have similar positions when possible, Schwartz said.
Marine 1st Sgt. Craig Wilcox said more than a third of the company’s Marines transferred into the Idaho Army National Guard for one of two reasons: to continue to serve their country locally or to continue to work on or in tanks. Company C operated the M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank while the 116th Brigade Combat Team of the Idaho Army National Guard operates the updated M1A2 Sep v.
“I looked at all of my options and I knew I wanted to stay in Idaho because my family is here,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle Dycus, one of the Marines who transitioned into the Idaho Army National Guard. “Initially, I wanted to stay within the tank community but decided to look for a more real-world option for my future and I chose the information technology field. I am looking at this from a positive aspect and I am thankful for this new opportunity. Change can often be a good thing.”
The majority of the Marines who enlisted into the Idaho Army National Guard are tankers, maintainers and other support individuals.
“We tried to match their Marine skill sets to an Army military occupational specialty as much as possible,” Schwartz said. “And we’ll continue to pay them special attention for the foreseeable future to ensure their transition is as smooth as possible.”
Wilcox said Marine Reservists were given the option of transferring to a new job and unit in the Marine Reserve, to transfer to a new branch or join the Individual Ready Reserve. An additional 10 Marines joined National Guard units in other states.
The number of Marines to transition into the Idaho Army National Guard increases the total strength of the organization by more than a percent.
In 2019 the Marines began divesting its tanks and reducing its artillery cannon battalions to focus on developing light mobility options to get around island chains with the assistance of unmanned systems and mobile anti-ship missiles. The efforts are part of Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s plan to modernize the corps to become a lighter and faster force.
The Marines also plan to reduce its number of infantry battalions from 24 to 21, artillery cannon batteries from 21 to five and amphibious vehicle companies from six to four.
Locally, Wilcox said that a small number of Marines will remain on Gowen Field to maintain the Marines’ connection to the Treasure Valley until a decision is made regarding future units being assigned to Gowen Field. In the meantime, Marines will continue to engage in community relations events, host their annual Toys for Tots program and conduct funerals and honors for Idaho’s Marine veterans.
By Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur
Idaho Military Division Public Affairs
Approximately 40 Idaho Citizen-Solders are now equipped with the knowledge and training to fight wildland fires, as the Idaho National Guard hosted its first wildland firefighting training course at Gowen Field, Idaho, June 15-19 and June 22-26.
Although Gowen Field and the Orchard Combat Training Center fire departments have qualified wildland firefighters, this is the first time the five-day courses have been offered to non-firefighter Guardsmen, enabling them the opportunity to earn an Incident Qualification Card, commonly known as a Red Card certification.
As Soldiers become certified by Idaho Department of Lands, they are prepared to assist firefighting efforts in the event the governor declares a state emergency. Additionally, it allows the Guardsmen the opportunity to learn a new skill they can use for job opportunities within the military or the civilian workforce.
“The Idaho National Guard is proud to offer our Soldiers the opportunity to participate in this entry-level firefighter course,” said Brig. Gen. Russ Johnson, director of the joint staff. “It enables us to enhance our capability to respond to local, state and federal calls with trained and qualified wildland firefighters.”
The Soldiers who were willing and able to complete training standards for this course are also willing and able to volunteer for state activation during the fire season, Aug. 1 through Nov. 30 of this year, if requested.
“We want to train and Red Card certify as many as 200-300 Guardsmen over the next several years,” said Lt. Col. Tony Vincelli, director of strategic plans for the joint staff. “It’s part of our overall strategy that the Idaho National Guard be prepared to support any domestic emergency.”
The week consisted of two online introduction courses leading into 32 hours of training in the Basic Firefighting and Wildland Fire Behavior courses and the demonstration of individual physical fitness by completing a pack test consisting of a three-mile ruck march carrying a 45-pound pack in less than 45 minutes.
“I have always been one to just go for it and volunteer for everything,” said Spc. Tatiana Campbell from Bravo Company, 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion. “As one of the few females signed up for the course, I was pretty impressed with the physical challenge of it. Physically it wasn’t too hard on me, but if you are physically fit, it’s going to be easier on you.”
National Guard Bureau provides funding for specific wildfire prevention and protection activities. These courses were offered at Gowen Field at no cost to the Idaho Guardsmen. When available, this funding is provided annually to Idaho and other western states prone to wildland fires.
“Wildland firefighting is something I have always wanted to do,” said Sgt. Nolan Myer from the 148th Field Artillery Regiment. “Within 45 minutes of getting the email that there was a wildland firefighting course being offered, I sent an email immediately back and signed right up.”
The IDL and the OCTC firefighters taught the course and at the end of each of the weeklong courses, the IDL certified those individuals who met the qualifications and issued their Red Cards. Every year those individuals can recertify to maintain their skills and Red Card certification.
“This unique training compliments the existing levels of specialized capability that currently exist in the Idaho National Guard,” said Johnson. “And it further reinforces our commitment to serving and protecting our great citizens.”
Story by Crystal Farris
Idaho Military Division Public Affairs
Idaho Army National Guardsman Pfc. Kolten Jordan needed a bit of direction in his life after graduating high school. Working full time in the construction industry just to make ends meet, he decided to find a more enjoyable career and a way to help pay for college.
“I really wanted to go to school to get a degree,” said Jordan. “After hearing that I could receive an enlistment bonus and college tuition benefits through the guard, I knew it would be a good direction to take in my life.”
Jordan enlisted as a cannon crew member with the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team’s A Battery, 148th Field Artillery Regiment in November 2018. Upon joining, he received a $20,000 enlistment bonus, the Montgomery GI Bill Kicker of $350 per academic month and the ability to earn an additional $8,000 in annual federal and state tuition assistance.
Since returning from basic and advanced individual training, Jordan has started using his school tuition assistance to pursue an associate degree in fire science at Boise State University and has received $10,000 of his enlistment bonus.
“Receiving my bonus was one of the biggest reliefs I’ve ever had,” said Jordan. “The money has so far helped me pay for college, enabled me to give my girlfriend a good birthday and is still helping to keep me on my feet with bills while I focus on school.”
The Idaho Army National Guard is one of approximately five other states national-wide to offer a $20,000 non-prior service enlistment bonus as part of a new pilot program that began in October 2018. The organization has since signed 93 enlistees under the bonus.
“The bonus program is just one example of how the Idaho Army National Guard helps Soldiers accomplish whatever they want in their civilian life,” said Brig. Gen. Farin Schwartz, commander, Idaho Army National Guard. “The benefits of our organization make the Guard an easy first choice for Idahoans who want to serve their country while remaining close to home.”
The bonus incentivizes Soldiers to maintain good standing throughout their commitment by changing the way it pays over the course of six years compared to previous bonuses. Previous bonuses paid service members half their entitlement after completing advanced individual training and the remaining half in even allotments every two years for the remainder of their contracts.
While the new bonus also pays out half after AIT, service members now receive the second half in even allotments dispersed annually on the anniversary of their AIT graduation, but only if they are in good standing.
By issuing payments every year, the bonus gives service members money they can count on more frequently, said Sgt. Preston Hair, Idaho Army National Guard recruiter. It’s an added benefit to fulfilling requirements service members are already expected to meet regardless of a bonus, added Hair.
“I’ve always been someone who wants to get a job done well but the bonus payments definitely help motivate me to maintain good readiness standing with the guard,” said Jordan. “It’s always nice to receive a payment, especially for doing something that I absolutely love being a part of.”
To qualify for the enlistment bonus, individuals must meet various initial entry requirements, including: no prior military service, score above a 50 on the ASVAB and have either a high school diploma or a GED in combination with 15 or more college credits.
Additionally, enlistees must sign for six years and chose from a list of the organization’s 10 to 15 qualifying military occupational specialties.
The organization also offers educational incentives to those qualifying under the new pilot program bonus, including the Montgomery GI Bill Kicker of up to $350 per academic month and a student loan repayment program that pays up to $50,000 in previously acquired academic loans. This is in addition to $4,000 in federal educational assistance and $4,000 in state educational assistance service members are already entitled to per year.
The Idaho National Guard sent approximately 400 Soldiers to Washington D.C. today to assist with guarding federal monuments, buildings and other property. The Soldiers will augment the D.C. National Guard and serve in support of the United States Park Police and Metropolitan Police Department.
Soldiers departed from Gowen Field, Pocatello and Spokane less than 25 hours after the mission was approved by Gov. Brad Little. Idaho is one of 11 states to send additional support to the nation’s capital.
“The key to being successful in this mission, and it’s a tough mission, is your professionalism,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, adjutant general of Idaho and commander of the Idaho National Guard. He addressed the Soldiers before they departed from Gowen Field. “I have all the confidence in the world that this group in front of me, from the leadership down, are professional Idaho National Guardsmen.”
Idaho National Guardsmen are trained to protect life and to preserve property, peace and public safety while respecting the right of the American public to peaceably assemble.
“Whether responding to a crisis in Idaho or another state, the principles of the Idaho National Guard remain the same: to help local jurisdictions, city governments and state agencies ensure public safety,” said Garshak. “Regardless of where we are in the U.S., our role is to support civilian authorities and our personnel are trained to protect life, preserve property and ensure people’s right to peacefully demonstrate.”
The Idaho National Guard has deployed out of state in support of national emergencies in the past. From Hurricane Katrina in 2005, wildland fire suppression in Oregon and Washington in 2015, to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria recovery support in 2017, the Idaho National Guard has provided hundreds of Soldiers and Airmen over the last decade in response to national emergencies. More recently, the Idaho National Guard provided state emergency relief here at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
Story by Capt. Robert Taylor
Idaho Army National Guard
Idaho National Guard Soldiers and Airmen participated in a subject-matter expert exchange Sept. 16–20 at the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations center with members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.
The mission was part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program and included a team of four Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers and two 124th Fighter Wing Airmen. Subject-matter expert exchanges facilitate the exchange of ideas, capabilities, training and experience between a host country and a state’s National Guard.
“These exchanges provide a great opportunity for our Idaho Guardsmen to not only train along side Cambodian Soldiers, but to also learn and grow, both personally and professionally,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, adjutant general of Idaho.
Garshak and a small team of Idaho National Guardsmen also spent the week in Cambodia meeting with embassy officials and discussing ways to better collaborate across issues of defense cooperation.
Soldiers and Airmen spent the week training with members of Cambodia’s peacekeeping directorate who are preparing to deploy to several countries as part of the National Center for Peacekeeping, Mines, and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance program. More than 70 NPMEC Soldiers made up three groups consisting of engineer, medical and leadership engagements.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Tech. Sgt. Kelly Goodman. “Their ingenuity is through the roof.”
Throughout the week, Goodman and Lt. Col. Brandon Pieper, explored basic first aid and CPR techniques with NPMEC Soldiers.
Pieper, a traditional Guardsman and dentist from Boise, Idaho, said he volunteered to participate in the exchange to get outside of his comfort zone of providing dental exams during drill weekend. In addition, he wanted to work with members of the Idaho Army National Guard.
He said the experience gave him a similar perspective to deploying with the Army and having to form a team with people he doesn’t normally work with.
Engineer Soldiers from both armies worked together to build a 30-foot beam bridge over a creek to increase their shared understanding of bridging concepts. The bridge will allow future students at the PKO to access the facility’s helicopter pad faster.
“Working with the NPMEC Soldiers left me energized each day with their enthusiasm of learning,” said Maj. Steve Keeton, an engineer officer.
Soldiers also reviewed and practiced troop leading procedures, land navigation and basic leadership skills together.
The exchange occurred during the Cambodia’s Pchum Ben, a 15-day religious festival, which gave Soldiers and Airmen the chance to visit a nearby temple and experience the country’s culture firsthand. Idaho and Cambodia have participated in the State Partnership Program since 2009. Soldiers and Airmen from the Idaho National Guard conduct approximately four subject-matter expert exchanges in Cambodia each year.