Face of Defense: Leader Mentors Deployed Soldiers
By Army Spc. Cory Grogan
Special to American Forces Press Service
VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq, Aug. 27, 2009 Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Foesch of Portland, Ore., lights up with pride when he talks about the enlisted soldiers he leads.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Foesch of Portland, Ore., from the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, believes deployments can be a positive experience for soldiers. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cory Grogan
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
He is the voice of the enlisted members for the commander, but taking care of soldiers is the best part of his job, said Foesch, a National Guard member with the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the Base Defense Operations Center sergeant major here.
"The soldiers who are most likely to be in a situation where they need help are the lower enlisted guys, and that's the bread and butter of the Army,” he said. “If we don't take care of those guys, we won't be able to do our mission."
He noted that deployments can and should be a positive experience for soldiers. Deployments are what people make of them, he said, and people will improve in a good command climate. A lot of hard work is involved, but soldiers can stay occupied through activities such as education and physical training, he added.
"I look at it as an adventure,” he said. “There's stuff that you never would have done if you weren't in the Army, and … some it's not so great, but the vast majority of it is really good stuff. We're doing stuff to help accomplish America's goals and to help make America and the world a better place."
Foesch cited good leadership as the key element for developing young men and women into mature adults on deployments.
"Right now, we're their mom and dad and their brothers and sisters. That's huge," Foesch said.
Foesch said he believes that 41st Brigade soldiers will be assets for the state when they come back home because of how they've developed their leadership and decision-making skills.
"At home, you can sit around and play Xbox, and nobody's going to say a word about it,” he said. Here, it doesn't work that way."
And the growth Guard members experience in uniform carries over to their civilian lives, Foesch noted. Any employer who doesn't take a serious look at a Guard member who has been deployed is missing out, he said.
Foesch, who has served in the Guard for nearly 23 years, said it has become a much more professional organization where junior soldiers and noncommissioned officers are capable of making huge decisions that used to be only in the officer's sphere of influence.
"We’re just cranking out a great product,” he said. “The vast majority of our men and women are becoming wonderful citizens who are great soldiers and leaders."
Foesch said his soldiers are busy learning new jobs and taking on new responsibilities, and that by doing so, they will be more capable of handling difficult situations when they get back home.
"I have nothing but the utmost respect for these guys and gals that are out there every day with body armor on, carrying their weapons in very austere environments [and] having a positive attitude," he said.
Foesch added that he hopes people look at the sacrifices young Guard members are making to ensure everyone back home is safe.
"Truly, I feel like that is a part of this whole thing,” he said. “Everyone should be proud of them. I know I am."
(Army Spc. Cory Grogan serves with the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.)