Pfc. Tonya Pettengill, from Troy N.Y., a Soldier in Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, recites the Oath of Enlistment during a ceremony, March 26, at Forward Operating Base Hammer. Pettengill was one of 20 Soldiers assigned to the 3rd BSTB that reenlisted during the month of March.
By Spc. Ben Hutto
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Staff Sgt. Adrian Milton, the career counselor for the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, has been very busy during his current deployment.
Since arriving at Forward Operating Base Hammer last March, 83 Soldiers in the 3rd BSTB have re-enlisted to stay in the Army.
“We met all of our recruiting goals by, March 1st,” said Milton, a native of Greensboro, N.C. “It was tough at times, but I learned a lot this deployment”.
Even though the 3rd BSTB has already reached its retention goals, Soldiers continue to re-enlist.
Twenty Soldiers re-enlisted during the month of March alone.
Staff Sgt. Cedric King, from Vicksburg, Miss., a platoon sergeant in Company B, re-enlisted earlier this month two days after he was promoted.
“I was always going to re-enlist,” he said. “Staying in the Army has always been in my career plan. I just wanted to make staff sergeant before I did it.”
The reasons for staying in the military went beyond the signing bonus he received.
“I’m in a job I really like to do,” he said. “The Army has allowed me to meet a variety of people from different backgrounds. That is something I couldn’t have done if I would have stayed in Mississippi. The Army has also allowed me to meet people with different personalities. I feel comfortable working with anyone now.”
King admits he has had some tough times in the Army, but is quick to point out that, as a whole, his career has been a good experience.
“The Army is a great organization,” he said. “It has its up and downs, like every place, but when people stay in and invest in the Army, it will set them up for success down the road.”
The Soldiers of Company B also played a role in convincing him to re-enlist.
“I love everybody I work with,” he said. “From the company commander to the lowest ranking private, I get along with everyone. I have quite a few characters in my shop. It’s a fun place to work.”
King’s only regret is leaving them after his redeployment to Fort Benning, Ga. King has orders that will take him and his wife to Fort Sill, Okla.
After seven years and three deployments with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, King is ready for the move.
“I was part of two great companies, Company A, 317th Engineers Battalion, and Company B, BSTB,” he said. “Overall, my time with them was a good experience. We had great leadership and outstanding Soldiers in both units. The lessons I learned from them go on and on. My mentors showed me how to be a good non-commissioned officer and lead troops. They showed me how to stand up for myself and handle troubling situations.”
King’s situation mirrors his fellow Soldiers in the 3rd BSTB. Many received sizable bonuses, choice of duty station, family stabilization and their choice of Army schools.
Milton explained that is all part of his job.
“It brings a smile to my face when I know a Soldier receives what they asked for,” Milton said. “It’s one of the best parts of the job.”
Capt. Andrew Henning, from Huntington, N.Y., commander of Headquarters Troop, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said that career counselors like Milton do a good job taking care of Soldiers in 3rd BSTB and the 3rd HBCT as a whole.
“We are over 100 percent in all of our retention categories for the fiscal year,” he said. “The Hammer retention teams make exceptional use of the re-enlistment tools at their disposal to get any and everything possible for our Soldiers.”
Henning believes that the effort to take care of Soldiers shows in their re-enlistment numbers.
“The 3rd BCT’s high re-enlistment rates are clear indicators that the Soldiers of the Brigade enjoy their jobs and have chosen, in combat, to re-enlist as evidence of that,” he said.
The 3rd BSTB is not alone in meeting its retention goals. All of the battalions in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team surpassed their retention goals during the 3rd BCT’s current deployment, according to Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Olsen, from Goldendale, Wash., the 3rd BCT’s senior career counselor.
“We met all of our retention goals ,as a Brigade, in March,” he said. “All of our retention teams did an exceptional job this deployment.”
Olsen explained that, traditionally, the 3rd Infantry Division has had a harder time making retention goals in the Brigade Special Troops Battalions because many of the military occupational specialties that are associated with those units can be transitioned into lucrative jobs outside of the military.
“Sgt. Milton did an exceptional job of helping keep these outstanding Soldiers in the Army,” he said.
The 3rd BSTB is assigned to the 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.