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NEWS | Sept. 19, 2023

35th Infantry Division Hosts 2023 Readiness Symposium

By Sgt. Evan Anderson, 35th Infantry Division

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – The 35th Infantry Division hosted the first Division Readiness Symposium, welcoming a diverse array of Army National Guard units from several states to division headquarters Sept. 9-10 to enhance communication and understanding and ensure operational, exercise and deployment readiness.

To prepare for possible large-scale combat amid global threats, the Army National Guard recently realigned its units. The change brought brigade combat teams and additional units under the eight National Guard division headquarters in Kansas, California, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

The 35th Infantry Division’s newly aligned units include the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Arkansas National Guard, the 45th IBCT of the Oklahoma National Guard, the 72nd IBCT of the Texas National Guard, the 230th Sustainment Brigade of the Tennessee National Guard, the 35th Infantry Division Artillery of the Kansas National Guard, and the 35th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade and the 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, both of the Missouri National Guard. All seven units participated in this year’s readiness symposium.

“From a mission command table perspective, one of the first things you do is build the team,” said Maj. Gen. John Rueger, commanding general of the 35th Infantry Division. “We aimed to come out of this with a shared understanding of our roadmap forward and what we are doing in order to continue to build and prioritize readiness over time.”

Event participants shared insights, best practices and lessons learned. The two-day symposium served as a platform to align strategies, identify challenges and develop a unified approach to readiness. Participants also heard from Maj. Gen. John Andonie, deputy director of the Army National Guard, about the importance of the symposium and its objectives.

“It’s about people: building a team that is disciplined and fit to survive in order to win during conflict,” said Andonie. “As an integrated force, the National Guard is focused on building generational readiness to support domestic response and contingency operations around the world.”

The 35th Infantry Division command group, staff members, and all aligned brigade command teams discussed current and future operations, aligning unit training and enhancing division and brigade interoperability.

“It was a great opportunity to see people I have known and worked with for 10-15 years,” said Col. Andrew Ballenger, commander of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard. “All the synchronization and finding new ways to do things, particularly in the knowledge management realm, will help our own team streamline how we operate moving forward.”

“We are getting ahead of where the Guard wants us to be, a division synchronized and in tune with its aligned units,” said Brig. Gen. Nicholas Jaskolski, deputy commanding general of sustainment, 35th Infantry Division.

Increased communication and understanding were paramount for all involved in the symposium for operational, exercise and deployment readiness. Leaders shared what they hoped to see in future symposiums.

“Synchronization moving forward is going to be critical in remaining united under this new alignment,” said Ballenger. 

“We want to ensure we are prioritizing the building of relationships and that we are all moving the same direction and understanding the challenges we may face,” said Rueger. “When it comes time to face those challenges, we will do so together.”