Tag Archives: El Paso

This Month in NCO History: Aug. 12, 1881 — Buffalo Soldier repels Apache attacks

1st Sgt. George Jordan was a Buffalo Soldier, part of the famed group of African-American men who served after the Civil War and into the 20th century.

As such, Jordan was not immune to the inequality faced by veterans of the segregated regiments. After his days in the Army, he struggled to find help when his health declined dramatically, being denied admission to the hospital at the now-defunct Fort Robinson in northwest Nebraska.

But on the battlefield, Jordan had few equals. His tenacity and bravery while part of the 9th Cavalry were unmatched. These attributes helped him learn to read and write after growing up illiterate. They helped him earn his sergeant stripes. And they helped him become worthy of the nation’s highest military honor.

Jordan was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1890 for his actions during the Apache Wars. The conflicts between the U.S. Army and the Apache nations were fought in the Southwest between 1849 and 1886. Jordan became a sergeant with K Troop, 9th Cavalry in 1879. At the time, the unit was stationed at Fort Stockton, Texas, and charged with maintaining order between the Rio Grande and Concho River from Fort Clark to El Paso.

In May 1880, Jordan led a 25-man detachment into the New Mexico Military District to protect Fort Tularosa from potential attack. The fort was near the present-day town of Aragon in Catron County, New Mexico. On May 13, Jordan received word that Apaches led by Chief Victorio were laying siege to the town. Jordan implored his troops to reach the area quickly through a forced march. On the morning of May 14, the detachment arrived at Fort Tularosa, finding the town intact. Jordan immediately had his troops build a new fort to protect the townspeople and a new stockade for their animals.

That evening, about 100 of Victorio’s men attacked, sending the townspeople scurrying under volleys of arrows. The town’s occupants found safety inside the newly built fort as the Buffalo Soldiers kept their attackers at bay. The Apaches staggered their attacks against the fort but Jordan successfully reorganized and mustered his men to repel each wave. His Soldiers even made a daring rescue to save all of the town’s cattle. The Apaches eventually relented after suffering several casualties. Jordan didn’t lose a man.

Protecting the town was an impressive feat, but it was what Jordan did 15 months later that cemented his place in the annals of Army history.

Jordan was one of 19 9th Cavalry troops actively pursuing Nana, a Warm Springs Apache chief who had ravaged areas of Texas, Mexico and New Mexico. The Soldiers were led by Capt. Charles Parker and had tracked Nana and his band of Navajos and Chiricahua Apaches into Carrizo Canyon. The canyon lay south of present-day Carrizozo Spring, New Mexico. Though not daunting in size, the outcropping was a treacherous place to come upon as it provided many high, hidden vantage points for an entrenched contingent to fire upon approaching enemies.

It is unclear how many enemy combatants the Buffalo Soldiers faced when they arrived at the canyon Aug. 12, 1881. Parker’s after-action report estimates that the opposing force had 40 guns. The Americans were easily outnumbered but would need to find a way through the canyon to continue the southward pursuit of Nana. That’s when Parker leaned on the battle-tested Jordan. The Buffalo Soldier was charged with taking a few men to head up the right flank along the gradual slope of the canyon to lay down suppressing fire along the opposite slopes as the rest of the group moved through. But the day didn’t go as planned. During their trek through the underbrush, Parker’s group came under fire from the slopes opposite Jordan. Jordan’s group returned fire from the other side, intermittently making the enemy retreat into the surrounding forest only to see them return further up the path to again cut off Parker’s progress.

While Parker was pinned down, the danger intensified for Jordan and his small detachment up above. They encountered hostile forces that had been posted on their side of the crest who had flanked them from the right. Parker rallied his men, positioning them so they were able to stave off their attackers in close combat while also periodically firing across the canyon at enemy forces that were shooting into the canyon below.

It is unknown how long Jordan and his men remained in this position, but his citation states, “he stubbornly held his ground in an extremely exposed position and gallantly forced back a much superior number of the enemy, preventing them from surrounding the command.” The desperate courage of Jordan allowed the unit to retreat back to Carrizozo Spring. The Americans lost one Soldier while inflicting four enemy casualties.

For his actions at Carrizo Canyon as well as Fort Tularosa, Jordan was awarded the Medal of Honor on May 7, 1890. Another NCO present at Carrizo Canyon, 1st Sgt. Thomas Shaw, also received the Medal of Honor later that year for actions during the battle.

Jordan left the Army in 1897. He originally joined in 1880 in Nashville, Tennessee. By the end of his service he had spent a decade as first sergeant of a troop renowned for its efforts against the Apache and Sioux. Jordan lived among other Buffalo Soldier veterans in Crawford, Nebraska, became a successful land owner and made headway in earning the right to vote.

Jordan became ill in the fall of 1904. He was turned away from Fort Robinson’s hospital and told to travel to Washington, D.C., to gain admission to the United States Soldiers’ Home. He never made the trip, as he died Oct. 24. Jordan was buried in Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Maxwell, Nebraska.

— Compiled by Pablo Villa

 

Enlisted leaders talk about shared goals, concerns in U.S., Europe, Africa

By JONATHAN (JAY) KOESTER
NCO Journal

Enlisted leaders from the United States, Europe and Africa gathered in a hotel ballroom in El Paso, Texas, on April 13 to discuss shared goals, concerns and how they could help each other achieve better readiness.

The discussion was part of the first International Training and Leader Development Symposium, a three-day event in El Paso that brought together enlisted leaders from all over the world to foster international partnerships and professional NCO development.

Command Sgt. Maj. Darrin Bohn, command senior enlisted leader of United States Africa Command, started the discussion. He said a main concern for African NCOs is the often unbalanced level of education given to officers versus NCOs.

“Some of the countries that I deal with, and thankfully they are not in the room, but they default always to the officers,” Bohn said. “They send someone to the war college. Well, we can send somebody on a Mobile Training Team over there to train 60 noncommissioned officers at the same time for less money.”

Master Warrant Officer Dickson Owusu, the sergeant major of the Ghana, Africa, army, said one of the roadblocks to getting more NCO training in African countries is that NCO development and empowerment can be seen as a threat.

“That’s why I like to use the terms ‘roles and responsibilities’ instead of empowerment,” Bohn said in response to Owusu. “We need to convince the officers that our roles and responsibilities give them more time to plan the big things. We’ll get our soldiers there in the right uniform, with water and ammunition, ready to execute the mission.”

The senior enlisted leaders of four African countries – Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Liberia – took part in the symposium. The four shared their struggles in getting their officers to accept NCO involvement in decisions. Bohn encouraged them to continue to fight for NCO empowerment and let them know it’s not ever going to be easy.

“To be honest with you guys, even I struggle with my headquarters to get NCO involvement,” Bohn said. “Every day is a fight for me, as well. Every day is a fight to make sure the noncommissioned officer’s voice is being heard. I don’t always get my way, but at least I get my say. So it’s a fight all the time for me, too. I know what you guys are going through. Don’t think the struggle is just on the African continent. The struggle is still on the American continent, as well. So how do we make ourselves relevant? How do we interject in some of these things to get what’s best for our NCOs and soldiers?”

Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Sweezer, command sergeant major of the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwoehr, Germany, gives a brief on the command to a group of senior enlisted leaders from Africa and Europe on April 13 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Spc. James Seals)
Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Sweezer, command sergeant major of the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwoehr, Germany, gives a brief on the command to a group of senior enlisted leaders from Africa and Europe on April 13 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Spc. James Seals)

Command Sgt. Maj. Sheryl Lyon, the command sergeant major of U.S. Army Europe, said that joint training in Europe also includes talk about NCOs’ roles and responsibilities, but with the additional need to incorporate NATO doctrine.

“For U.S. Army Europe, we’re a little bit different because our partnerships have been going on for 70-plus years,” Lyon said. “State partnerships, at least some of them, have been going on for 25 years. They’re very well established. So there is a difference in the way we see things and the way AFRICOM sees things. Being well established helps us in that we can focus on other things.”

The State Partnership Program has established 70 partnerships in 76 countries, pairing state National Guard units with other nations’ armed forces. SPP partnerships with European countries started as early as 1993.

Both Lyon and Bohn stressed the importance of using Mobile Training Teams in the effort to educate and train noncommissioned officers in Europe and Africa.

“I advocate for MTTs,” Lyon said. “It works much better for a country. For one, it’s cheaper. You don’t have to pay for 40 students to come to an NCO Academy somewhere in the states or in Germany. It comes to you. It works much better to get them certified, able to instruct their own courses.”

After the discussion, Lyon said that the talks showed that NCOs around the world share common goals.

“One of the things I took away from the breakout sessions was that we face many of the same challenges in our NCO corps regardless of where we are from or how long we’ve had an NCO corps,” Lyon said. “Readiness is our number one priority, making training essential to success.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Gilpin, command sergeant major of U.S. Army Africa, noted that only four senior enlisted leaders, out of 54 countries in Africa, were represented at the symposium. He said the discussions were fruitful, but more participation will be a goal in the future.

“We were able to better communicate expectations, capabilities and ‎understanding of how we can strengthen our partnership and be more efficient,” Gilpin said. “That directly leads to readiness as we optimize personnel and resources.”

 

 

Senior enlisted leaders, international counterparts can shape RAF approach

Read about what was said during the three breakout sessions at the links below:

• U.S. NCOs tackle new threats with help from allies in Pacific, Central commands

• Enlisted leaders talk about shared goals, concerns in U.S., Europe, Africa

By PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

Command Sgt. Maj. Steven M. Payton has watched closely as the U.S. Army continues to make progress on its Regionally Aligned Forces mission.

As the sergeant major of G3/5/7 operations and plans, Payton has been privy to details concerning RAF since its inception in 2013. He shared some of those details with Army senior enlisted leaders and their international counterparts from 55 countries April 13 during the second day of the International Training and Leader Development Symposium at El Paso, Texas. The aim of the three-day event was to reinforce the importance of a quality noncommissioned officer corps, to foster international partnerships, and prepare U.S. senior enlisted leaders for the tasks they face as part of a fast-changing Army.

Payton outlined the basic RAF concept to attendees, describing how the fluid structure of the U.S. Army in a drawdown climate affects the strategy’s principles when trying to properly assist partner nations. Though the tenets and statistics behind the RAF concept are firm, Payton concedes its intricacies and strategic approaches are malleable.

Chief Warrant Officer Dickson Owusu, foreground, the forces sergeant major of the Ghana Armed Forces, listens as Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey speaks April 13 in El Paso, Texas, during the second day of the International Training and Leader Development Symposium. The event was attended by U.S. senior enlisted leaders and their international counterparts from 55 countries in an attempt to reinforce the importance of a quality noncommissioned officer corps and to foster international parternships. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones)
Chief Warrant Officer Dickson Owusu, foreground, the forces sergeant major of the Ghana Armed Forces, listens as Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey speaks April 13 in El Paso, Texas, during the second day of the International Training and Leader Development Symposium. The event was attended by U.S. senior enlisted leaders and their international counterparts from 55 countries in an attempt to reinforce the importance of a quality noncommissioned officer corps and to foster international parternships. (Photo by Clifford Kyle Jones)

“The numbers themselves tell a story,” Payton said while describing how the 187,560 Soldiers engaged in RAF missions are spread throughout the world. “But the story they do not tell is what goes along with it: how we work with our teammates in a collective effort across the globe.”

The Regionally Aligned Forces project was borne out of the 2010 U.S. National Security Strategy, which instructed the U.S. military to strengthen existing allied and partner relationships, as well as to pursue new partnerships. A key role of the defense strategic guidance was regionally aligned, mission-tailored forces, which would be rebalanced to the Asia-Pacific region while maintaining a commitment to Middle East partners.

A regional alignment flags Army units of various sizes to prepare to support combatant commanders as they deal with mutual threats and interests with partner nations. The support is offered in the hope that any given nation’s defense forces can handle security issues without involving U.S. forces. Under the current RAF structure, an Army unit of varying sizes will be assigned to one of the U.S. military’s six geographic combatant commands — U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command.

The opening stages of the RAF plan rolled out during the past three years, and the process for Army units to become regionally aligned is ongoing as it follows State Department direction to assign brigades to particular geographic combatant commands. Brigades aligned under the RAF concept lean heavily on NCOs to carry out their missions. In turn, those NCOs must be able to rely on their international counterparts to ensure that partner nations can reach their goals. That notion is part of what spurred last week’s gathering, Payton said. After laying out the vital elements of the RAF mission, Payton challenged the symposium’s attendees to keep those concepts in mind as they headed to their respective breakout sessions with enlisted leaders from their specific geographic regions.

“This presentation is meant to be a tool to shape what you do when you move out to your breakout groups,” Payton said. “Ask yourself, ‘What do we want to accomplish?’ We want to generate discussion. I presented to you what we see through the eyes of our commands and what they’re telling us that they’re accomplishing out there. What is key is to also remember that we, as the United States Army, are deployed around the globe. Our partner nations are deployed around the globe as well. What best practices do they have that we all can learn from? What should we be doing? What should we not be doing? We want to build upon what we currently have in place. We want to become better at what it is we want to accomplish collectively and individually.”

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey echoed those sentiments.

“This is all about what you put into it,” Dailey said. “This is focused on giving the state partners, the secretary and the COCOMS the ability to bring the team together regionally so you can break out and discuss things that you want to work on in the future, initiatives that you want to work on. This is just to confirm, ‘Hey, here’s where we’re headed.’”

SMA, international senior enlisted leaders tour U.S.-Mexico border

By MEGHAN PORTILLO
NCO Journal

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey and senior enlisted leaders from around the world toured the U.S-Mexico border on Wednesday as part of the International Training and Leader Development Symposium at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The soldiers, representing about 55 countries, visited the border crossing between Sunland Park, New Mexico, and Rancho Anapra, Mexico. Border Patrol agents gave the group a 30-minute presentation, then answered questions. Topics discussed included the basics of the job, the terrain Border Patrol agents face, the technology they use, their tracking abilities and the prosecution process for individuals caught crossing illegally.

The tour ended at the National Border Patrol museum in El Paso, Texas, where the soldiers learned about the early days of the Border Patrol. A helicopter and old patrol vehicles were found on one side of the museum, while the other displayed flying crafts, carts, motorcycles and hand-made boats utilized by undocumented immigrants. Soldiers also perused through weapons exhibits, displays showing the changes in the Border Patrol uniform and a room dedicated to agents who lost their lives in the line of duty.

(Photos by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)