- At Sea
- Contact Us
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The Alaska Army National Guard hosted what was most likely their first-ever community event off base when they deactivated the 297th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade and activated the 297th Regional Support Group during a Saturday ceremony at the Delaney Park Strip located in downtown Anchorage.
The 297th BFSB deactivation and transition to the 297th RSG is a small piece of the Army’s changing force structure designed to meet the nation’s changing security requirements with a smaller military.
“Over time, the Guard in Alaska has undergone a number of force-structure conversions, which were driven by the changing of the political landscape and modernization of the United States Army,” said Col. Joseph Streff, commander of the Alaska Army National Guard and reviewing officer of the ceremony. “The ceremony you are witnessing today is yet another example of positive change, which converts our force structure from a legacy unit to an organization, which will be relevant to the Army and fully capable of conducting operations in support of our state and federal missions.”
The activation of the 297th RSG and its scheduled inclusion of the 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, provide new opportunities to enhance security partnerships in the Asia-Pacific and respond domestically in Alaska.
The changing force structure provides new, relevant ways for the Alaska Army National Guard to respond to Alaskans during times of need.
Col. Lee Knowles, 297th BFSB commander, ceremonially relinquished command and deactivated the unit when he cased the unit colors with assistance from the brigade command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. John Drew. The unit will officially transition to the 297th RSG Sept. 1st.
Knowles thanked his command for the effort they gave in transitioning the brigade, which included more than 13,000 supply transactions at 18 different locations across the state.
“You took on the daunting task of deactivation, adding that big rock to a very heavy rucksack and bearing the load without slowing your pace or voicing a complaint,” Knowles said.
The colonel said, though the unit was deactivating, its legacy would live on in its Soldiers as they integrate in to the new unit.
“Soldiers give a unit its identity,” Knowles explained. “The shared burdens and hardships most will never understand create a distinct camaraderie and impart character and soul to our formations.
“For eight years, you gave the BFSB life and made it more than just a unit,” he said to the Soldiers in formation. “You are what makes soldiering special and the connections to our units so meaningful.”
Lt. Col. Peter Mondelli ceremonially took command of the newly formed 297th RSG when he uncased the unit colors with Drew, who transitioned with the new element. Most recently, Mondelli commanded 1st Squadron, 297th Reconnaissance and Surveillance Squadron, which will transition to an infantry battalion as part of the force restructure.
“We will have many challenges that we will face together,” Mondelli said of his unit’s future. “We truly live in interesting times, and we will be ready when our great State of Alaska and our nation calls us.”
The Alaska Code of Military Justice helps the Alaska National Guard shape constructive policies and positive actions for the future, and it is a critical step for building and maintaining the trust and confidence of Alaskans in their National Guard. The ACMJ helps define legal, ethical and moral guidelines for the state’s military force.
“It is a huge step forward in our ongoing quest to improve operational readiness in the Alaska National Guard,” said Brig. Gen. Laurie Hummel, the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard. “With this new Alaska Code of Military Justice, we will strengthen good order and discipline that is so critical to every military organization.”
Brig. Gen. (Alaska) Roger Holl relinquished command of the Alaska State Defense Force in a change-of-command ceremony to Col. (Alaska) John James.
The ASDF, established in state statute, exists to provide a military force to assist Alaskans during times of emergency. The ASDF supports and expands community resilience across the state with support for incident response, communications, shelter and medical requirements.
ASDF is comprised of volunteers, many who are military veterans and retirees who are driven to protect the state and its citizens at a very low cost.
Following the formal portions of the event, the Alaska Army National Guard hosted a number of events designed to reach out to the Alaska community, including an infantry squad maneuver demonstration, a bounce house for children, and a barbecue lunch.
Source: Alaska National Guard