Story by Capt. Jessica Donnelly
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – More than 150 Soldiers, Airmen, and civilians gathered at the Bluff Road armory for a Town Hall meeting Mar. 1, 2017, to address concerns and discuss the way ahead for the South Carolina Military Department
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., The Adjutant General for South Carolina, briefed on the current status of the organization as a ready, relevant, responsible, and resilient force, as well as what employees can expect in the future. There was also an opportunity for military department members to ask Livingston questions on specific areas of concern.
“What a year we’ve had,” said Livingston. “For the South Carolina National Guard, it’s been a very successful year with a lot of people doing a lot of great things and I really appreciate all you’ve done to make it successful.”
Topics addressed included recruiting and retention, current operating tempo and upcoming deployments, the physical and mental status of the force and how it affects the mission, and technology and cyber challenges. Questions asked encompassed the future status of fulltime technician employees, the current network issues and transition to Windows 10, the working relationship between military members and state civilian employees, how fulltime staff promotions affect Guard-status member promotions, how the new cyber battalion will be manned and trained, and what is being done about the condition of armories. He also provided highlights from his recent attendance with all 54 state and territory adjutants general at the National Guard’s senior leaders conference hosted by U.S. Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, Chief, National Guard Bureau.
Livingston explained the South Carolina National Guard is ranked as one of the top throughout the states and territories for unit and personnel readiness and South Carolina has been identified as a state that can continue to grow and do more.
“We continue to increase our relevance to the country,” said Livingston. “South Carolina has always been relevant. Last time I checked, we were the sixth most deployed National Guard in the United States, which tells you how relevant we are to the nation’s mission.”
He added, even during the Military Department’s response to Hurricane Matthew, the South Carolina National Guard continued to deploy units overseas. Additionally, the South Carolina National Guard’s State Partnership Program with Colombia is strong, working with a country that is finishing a nearly 55 year war and transitioning into a community-based reserve force.
Due to this high level of operations, he emphasized, it is increasingly important to ensure the health and wellness of the current force and taking care of the service members and their families remains a priority.
“I’m proud that we take care of our people,” said Livingston. “We’re responsible for our people. I’m proud of what you all do with the Soldier support piece and what we do with the family support piece. That’s all part of being responsible.”
Key members of the South Carolina Military Department also addressed the crowd on questions that pertained to their areas of expertise.
U.S. Army Col. Johnny Ramsey, South Carolina Network Enterprise Center director, answered questions pertaining to the network issues stating how recent updates and security measures have affected access, but they are aware of the issue and working toward resolving the problems. Mr. Kenneth Braddock, state operations chief of staff, addressed the relationship between military and state employees and how both serve their role to accomplish the mission. U.S. Army Col. Matthew Fryman, human resources director, provided information on the promotion of fulltime staff and how a Guard-status promotion does not typically affect a technician position.
Looking ahead, Livingston explained, there is a potential for an increase in personnel within the National Guard, increased partnerships with the active duty, and an expectation for change. He added, in spite of the level of operational tempo, mission response, and any issues or concerns, the attrition rate has decreased within the South Carolina National Guard.
“People want to serve,” said Livingston. “We exist to serve the people of South Carolina…We keep moving forward…We can measure our National Guard as one of the best in the nation because of what you do each day.”