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NEWS | March 13, 2014

Georgia’s Army National Guard building security in the Americas

By Maj. Will Cox Georgia National Guard

MACON, Ga. - The Georgia National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is the first National Guard IBCT to execute missions under the regionally aligned forces program.

The 48th IBCT is working with U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Army South, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in an effort to forge strong regional partnerships across the Americas.

Nearly 20 Georgia Guard members will be in Guatemala, at any given time, between January and April to advise and train their military forces with best practices concerning: border control operations, command post operations, intelligence support operations and brigade sustainment operations.

Regionally aligned forces are prepared to support combatant command requirements, like SOUTHCOM, with mission-ready forces and capabilities that are further prepared with cultural, regional and language focused training.

Forces can be drawn from: the Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve and Department of the Army civilians, in order to operate within the current Army budget and not require new funding.

"The Georgia National Guard's 48th IBCT is well-suited to promote partnership between U.S. Southern Command, Army South, and the government of Guatemala," said Lt. Col. Matt Smith, 48th IBCT deputy commander. "We believe Guard soldiers are uniquely qualified to partner with other nations due to the extensive civilian skill sets and experiences they bring to the process. Our partner nations gain from our guardsmen's military and civilian experiences, while our guardsmen sustain their expeditionary mindset and broaden their professional experiences."

National Guard members represent the nation's diversity and demographics and are the face of the military in their local community. Eighty-five percent of the National Guard serves part time in the military while working and living full time in almost every community around the country.

Bravo Company, 2-121 Infantry Regiment, headquartered out of Newnan, Ga., is the unit going to Guatemala. "As an employee of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, I get to conduct advanced training for agencies such as the U.S. Marshals, Secret Service and Customs and Border Protection," said 1st Sgt. Timothy Sperry, senior enlisted adviser to Bravo Company, 2-121 Infantry Regiment.

"My 26 years of military experience, combined with 16 years of law enforcement experience as a police officer and defensive tactics and arrest techniques instructor, gives me a breadth of experience to pull from. We will train the Guatemalan Interagency Task Force composed of Military and National Police members tasked with targeting transnational drug organizations."

"The 48th IBCT was the perfect choice for the RAF mission, because National Guard Bureau knew that the unit was fully trained and available, being the first unit to fully execute the Army National Guard's Contingency Expeditionary Force [CEF] training strategy," Smith said. "The CEF training strategy is designed to invest in readiness through progressive training over time, rather than buying readiness just before the unit deploys.

"The beauty of fully exercising the training strategy is that it allows the ARNG to internally produce trained and ready units pre-mobilization. In addition to saving tax payer money, this strategy keeps our formations at a higher level of readiness throughout the training cycle, enabling me to provide combatant commanders with combat-ready platoons and companies when they need them."