Deployed not only to trouble spots in Ohio, but all over the world, the sun never sets on the operations of the Ohio National Guard, said Col. Daniel Shank, the new assistant adjutant general-Army for Ohio and commander of the Ohio Army National Guard’s more than 11,000 soldiers.
“Operational tempo” never slows down, Shank said in an interview Monday with Dayton Daily News editors and executives.
Among those in active deployment today: About 150 citizen-soldiers from the Ohio National Guard’s 637th Chemical Co. based in Kettering in support of Operation Spartan Shield in Kuwait.
The work involved for the Guard ranges from helping Akron in recent weeks respond to a ransomware attack to building an Ohio River flood-wall last year in Portsmouth, to responding to areas hit by Hurricane Irma in 2017.
“The job we do is very serious,” Shank said.
The 637th Chemical Co. is serving as the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense response force for the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in Kuwait.
It’s not the unit’s first deployment. The Kettering soldiers have served in Iraq in support of the War on Terrorism.
The job is becoming more global as the nation recognizes a “near-peer competition” stance that identifies nations such as Russia, North Korea, China and Iran as competitors and potential adversaries.
“When the president makes a shift like that, it completely changes our doctrine and the way that we have to think about fighting,” Shank said.
Finding men and women qualified to serve in the Guard isn’t getting easier.
Intellectual and physical requirements almost immediately disqualify some 70 percent of the target demographic, Shank said.
And those requirements are becoming more strenuous, he added. A standard physical fitness test is moving from a two-mile run and as many sit-ups and push-ups as a soldier can perform in two minutes to a “crossfit”-type of regimen, requiring a lengthy array of weight-lifting, dragging, running and other exercises that must be performed in 70 minutes or less.
Shank called the new test “a smoker.”
“We’re at a pivot point here in how we prepare our soldiers,” he said.
And Sgt. 1st Class Paul Browder, a lifelong Dayton-area resident who serves as recruiting team leader for the Guard, says average military aptitude test scores vary widely across the Dayton area, with scores skewing higher in Montgomery County’s south suburbs compared to more urban areas.
“As a whole in the Montgomery County area, there are plenty of qualified individuals who have the potential,” Browder said.
The higher recruits score on those aptitude tests, the more military jobs available to them, the colonel said.
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