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CAMP DENALI, Alaska â€” The Guardsman who has been at the helm of the enlisted forces for the Alaska National Guard is leaving Alaska headed for the military command that defends Americaâ€™s homeland.
Command Sgt. Maj. Gordon Choate, the Alaska National Guard senior enlisted leader to the adjutant general, is moving to U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he will be the senior enlisted leader to the director of joint training and exercises, Joseph Bonnet.
“I’ll be managing Mr. Bonnet’s enlisted force along with planning and developing components for the Ardent Sentry exercise, which is really all about exercising what we currently do in our states to protect the homeland, specifically focusing on a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear event,” Choate said.
Ardent Sentry is a major exercise that U.S. Northern Command plans each year, and Alaska will host the exercise in 2014. The main objective of U.S. Northern Command is to partner in conducting homeland defense, civil support and security cooperation to defend and secure the United States and its interests. Civil support missions include domestic disaster relief, counter-drug operations and management of the consequences of a terrorist event employing a weapon of mass destruction.
“When I called to inquire about a senior enlisted position at U.S. Northcom, they thought I would be a good fit because of my working relationship with other states in dealing with North America defense and my involvement with defense support to civil authorities,” Choate said.
His tour at U.S. Northern Command could be as long as three years. He’s looking forward to working in a “broader, diverse, joint environment,” he said. Choate’s end goal is to someday be the senior enlisted leader of a major command or even the senior enlisted leader to the chief of the National Guard Bureau.
He enlisted into the military as an Alaska Army National Guardsman in Dec. 9, 1985. Prior to his role as the senior enlisted leader to the adjutant general, he served as the Alaska Army National Guard state command sergeant major from 2007-2011. Another notable assignment was when he served as the defense forces command sergeant major and the forward operations base command sergeant major for one year at Camp Bucca, Iraq, from 2005-2006.
“Command Sergeant Major Choate has a long, dedicated career in the Alaska National Guard with a commitment to grow and strengthen the enlisted corps,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Katkus, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard. “While we will miss seeing him every day, he will remain an Alaska National Guardsmen during his time at U.S. Northcom; we know he will represent us well and make great contributions to the protection of Americans here at home.”
Choate is a lifelong Alaskan, born in Dutch Harbor. His family even has a road named after them in Unalaska – Choate Lane. He and his wife, Emily, own a home in Anchorage and plan to return to visit as often as possible.
“I consider myself an Alaskan forever,” Choate said. “This will always be home.”