War on Terrorism

Friday, May 23, 2008

Face of Defense: Guardsman Trains, Deploys With Active-Duty Division

By Army Spc. April Campbell
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 22, 2008 - Most National Guardsmen train and mobilize together as a whole unit before deploying to Iraq, but some deploy individually and are attached to active-duty units. Such is the case for
Army Maj. Barry Hafer, a Marshall, Texas, native and a member of the Texas National Guard's 5th Battalion, 112th Field Artillery Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, who serves as the "Red Team" leader with 4th Infantry Division and Multinational Division Baghdad.

In early 2007, 4th Infantry Division initiated plans for the first division-level Red Team, a team designed to work with different staff sections performing critical reviews and challenging cultural assumptions. The position on the Red Team caught Hafer's attention, and he volunteered for the job.

"I thought it was a great opportunity," he said. "It's a leading-edge concept."

Since his civilian job in industry and manufacturing requires the ability to get to root causes and bring up sensitive questions along with helping to find solutions, the prospect interested him very much, Hafer added.

At the time, Lt. Col. Mike Runey, an
Exeter, N.H., native who now serves as chief of plans with 4th Infantry Division and Multinational Division Baghdad, was asked to lead the team and help choose two Guardsmen who would best fit the role.

"There were several candidates put forward by the Texas National Guard at the time," Runey said. "They thought Major Hafer would be a good fit, and we thought so too. It worked out well for us."

With less than a week's notice, Hafer began training for the new position. In April, he attended the University of Foreign
Military and Cultural Studies, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. There, he met the other two soldiers, including Runey, who make up the division's Red Team. This would be the first step in Hafer's deployment.

He initially had planned to deploy with 4th Infantry Division shortly after completing the course, the division's deployment date was pushed back until November. Hafer went to Fort Hood, Texas, and trained with the division until that time.

While Hafer has spent many long hours working to accomplish his mission during this deployment, the hard work with the division is not the only sacrifice he has made. As a family man, businessman and leader in his community, he had to put his civilian life on hold without much preparation time.

"I left a lot of good people with almost no notice, and everyone in Marshall stepped up and was incredibly supportive," he said.

Hafer was actively involved in the
Marshall Rotary Club, the Marshall Chamber of Commerce and the Harrison County Manufacturing Council. He was also the director of operations for Mecar USA, a military ammunitions manufacturer, he added.

While he and his wife did not know when or where he would deploy, Hafer said, he knew he most likely would deploy. This helped to mentally prepare the Hafers for the deployment.

"We talked a lot. Careerwise, I knew I would be deploying," he said. "As a family, we were ready. Not everything was taken care of, but we were ready."

Hafer also received support from his employer.

"Mecar USA supported me with no notice and has kept in contact with me and my family since I've been gone," he said.

Hafer said he makes sure that he does his part as well to keep in contact with his loved ones and community back home. As is the case with many soldiers deployed to Iraq, this correspondence with those at home helps lift Hafer's spirits.

"Staying in touch with his family and community back home has been key to keeping his morale up," Runey said. "Major Hafer is one of the hardest-working guys I've seen."

Hafer will be able to reconnect with his family and friends back home when he redeploys in July. The homecoming, though long awaited, will be bittersweet, Hafer said, as he will be leaving many new friends in Iraq. He said he will not soon forget his deployment with the Ivy Division.

"I think it was a great opportunity to work with an extremely professional active-duty unit with a great reputation," he said. "I've learned an immense amount just being here -- being around this unit, the people and the professionalism."

Army Spc. April Campbell serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad Public Affairs Office.)

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