Lt. Col. David Dailey, right, took command of the 153rd Engineer Battalion in a Saturday afternoon ceremony. He succeeds Lt. Col. Patrick Pardy, left, battalion commander for the past two years. PHOTO BY ROGER LARSEN/PLAINSMAN
HURON – Army National Guard leaders are embracing recruitment, retention and troop and equipment readiness after a decade of overseas deployments into war zones, the incoming commander of the 153rd Engineer Battalion based in Huron says.
“We’ve got to recover from the last 10 years of war,” Lt. Col. David Dailey of Sturgis said Saturday after he succeeded Lt. Col. Patrick Pardy of Howard in a battalion change of command ceremony.
Dailey, a 25-year Guard veteran, will lead the 153rd for the next two years. At more than 850 soldiers strong, it is the largest battalion in South Dakota.
He enlisted in the National Guard in 1988 in Custer and was commissioned in 1993 from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He was part of the 109th Engineer Battalion in 2003 when the unit was deployed to the Middle East in the invasion of Iraq.
In his civilian life, Dailey is an assistant vice president in a heavy construction company in Rapid City.
In his remarks to the troops at the National Guard Armory Saturday afternoon, Dailey said the soldiers need to be ready for the next terrorist attack on American soil.
“We’ve got to bring the unit back up to strength,” he said in an interview later. “Recruiting, retention is a big deal. We’ve got to bring more soldiers in.
“Sequestration, I think, has gotten people thinking that the military is downsizing,” Dailey said. “In reality, we’ve got to grow.”
Not only does the Guard need to get its soldiers trained and to the right schools, it must get its equipment back up to speed so it is at the top of the line again, he said.
Since the United States led the coalition in Iraq, troops have been in a war mode.
When a unit is deployed, it is given a list of things it must do that is all war driven. Now the Guard needs to return to basic training.
“If you’re a bridge guy, you go build bridges,” Dailey said. “If you’re an equipment operator, you go run your dozers or you run your scrapers. You get back to that stuff that you joined the military for, and the fun stuff, and not the training and the tasks that you had to do to go to war.”
He told his soldiers that they now need to be that top unit, the one that’s ready to go at any moment.
“Because we don’t know where the next one’s (attack) coming from,” he said. “You just never know who or where it could come from.”
As Dailey took command of the 153rd Engineer Battalion and offered his words of encouragement, the world waited to learn what will happen next in Syria’s civil war, and whether the United States would get involved. North Korea is also still a volatile country.
But Dailey also said the National Guard needs to be prepared as well to help in the aftermath of the next natural disaster in the homeland. Training and equipment need to be at the forefront here, too, so the troops can respond immediately, he said.
The battalion is not only the largest in South Dakota, its troops are part of a highly qualified unit that has won many awards over the years.
He reminded the soldiers that they will want to strive to be their best.
“If we’re going to be facing these challenges in the future, of being prepared, being ready for what’s coming next, then this is the place to be if you want to stand a chance of succeeding,” Dailey said.
For the complete article see the 09-08-2013 issue.
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