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SCANG personnel officer leads joint effort in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jim St. Clair
Maj. Bryan Wright, A-1 Director for the Joint Force Headquarters, is deployed to Afghanistan. But he's not with the other Swamp Foxes at Kandahar Airfield in the south. Rather he is serving at Bagram Airfield just north of the capital Kabul.

Wright arrived in Afghanistan last March and didn't know what to expect on his first combat deployment. But so far, it's been good, Wright said. "My initial goal was maybe just to get through it. But I found, for the most part, there have been a lot more positive things I have gotten out of it than expected."

Wright said he started thinking about deploying early last year. He wanted to deploy since his specialty code was not scheduled to be tasked with the fighter wing's deployment. So he contacted his career field manager at National Guard Bureau and volunteered.

"With past experience on PERSCO teams, working in joint/multinational exercises and working fulltime in a joint environment, I went toward a joint deployment opportunity."

Wright is a fulltime military technician and serves as the Assistant Human Resources Officer at the Adjutant General's headquarters in Columbia. In Afghanistan, Wright is attached to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan located at Camp Vance, which is inside Bagram Airfield. He serves as the J-1 (Personnel) Director for CJSOTF-A.

"The CJSOTF-A covers all of Afghanistan, and we account for about 6,000 personnel including coalition, four of the (U.S.) services, civilians and contractors.," he said. "We have personnel spread out in more than 100 different areas living in villages. Their jobs are to create stability and train Afghan Special Forces and Commandos."

Wright's J-1 team consists of 14 joint personnel whose mission includes handling everything from casualty tracking, end of tour and service awards, R&R and emergency leave requests, OPRs/EPRs/Fitness reports (Navy), personnel manning and accountability and postal services at Camp Vance.

"With the number of personnel that we service, we stay busy. Last year, (our shop) processed 12,000 awards in addition to all other areas we cover. It's quite a workload," said Wright.

Wright works a 12+hour shift, seven days a week. "A typical day is PT at 0430, Skype with family, eat and then to work by 0730. We have two shifts so shift change for us is 0745.

"We have a 0900 CUB (daily update for the commander). Lunch is around 1230. Supper is around 1830. Shift change 1945. I try to head to the room around 2200," he said.

Wright's shop serves as the headquarters for other J-1 units across the theater. Part of his duties involves visiting the other SOTF units for oversight purposes. One memorable trip was to the city of Herat in the western part of the country. "We flew in a C-130 that made seven stops and each stop (the pilots) loved to do tactical landings. We went as far east as you can go, then went south to Kandahar Airfield and sat for an hour and fifteen minutes right beside the runway. So I got to see two of our F-16s take off," Wright said.

During another trip down to Kandahar, Wright said he got to visit with McEntire's ops and maintenance personnel. But travelling by air anywhere in Afghanistan is always tricky.

"Once we got going, our pilot said we had one stop. We landed on a small road. As we looked around it was nothing but desert type environment with dust blowing but there was a goat herder with about 20 goats out in the middle of nowhere."

Wright is scheduled to return home in October.