WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lt. Col. Allan Carter and Command Sgt. Maj. Ricky Kiser represented the Soldiers of the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and received the Walter T. Kerwin, Jr., Readiness Award recognizing them as the most combat-ready Army National Guard battalion in the country Oct. 21, 2013, at the Association of the United States Army Guard and Reserve Breakfast in Washington, D.C. General Daniel B. Allyn, commander of United States Army Forces Command, and retired Lt. Gen. Roger C. Schultz presented the award. Carter commanded the battalion during the training year recognized by the award, and Kiser currently serves as the battalion’s command sergeant major.
AUSA, along with the National Guard Association of the United States and Reserve Officers Association, presents the award each year to the most outstanding Army National Guard and Army Reserve units. The Chief of National Guard Bureau selects the Army National Guard winner. The 99th Regional Support Command received the award for the Army Reserve.
“Congratulations to this year’s Walter T. Kerwin, Jr., Readiness Awards recipients recognizing these two extraordinary Guard and Reserve units that have led the way in training readiness over the past year,” Allyn said. “The plaques are appropriately engraved ‘These Citizen Soldiers have been chosen as the nation’s best.’”
Evaluation criteria for the Kerwin include the areas of assigned personnel strength, percentage of personnel qualified in their duty position, attendance at monthly drill weekends and annual training, individual weapons qualification scores and physical fitness test scores. Battalions also must have an effective maintenance program for all units and must achieve readiness objectives as outlined by U.S. Forces Command.
“There were many outstanding Army National Guard units to consider for this year’s award, which means the 1-116th IBCT truly represents the best of the best,” said Gen. Frank J. Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “They have worked extremely hard and epitomize the National Guard’s motto of Always Ready, Always There. I was very proud to select them for this recognition.”
For the 2012 training year, the battalion maintained above 100 percent strength and 95 percent trained in duty military occupation speciality as well as 99 percent individual weapons qualification and 100 percent crew served weapons qualification.
“I continue to be very impressed by the hard work that goes into the high state of readiness maintained by the Virginia National Guard,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker after the award was announced in April. “The national-level recognition is just another example of how the Virginia Guard ranks among the best in the country, and it should inspire further confidence in the Guard’s already well-earned reputation that we can count on them to rapidly respond and to assist citizens of the Commonwealth when called to duty by the Governor. Our Guard continues to demonstrate its tremendous capabilities to support domestic operations as well as its federal mission of military operations around the world.”
Several of the battalion’s companies were also recognized earlier in the year for training excellence. The Lynchburg-based Headquarters Company and the Christiansburg-based Company C earned the Excellence in Training Award, and the Headquarters Company, Company C and the Pulaski-based Company D earned the Superior Unit Award.
To earn the Excellence in Training Award, a unit must have 90 percent of all personnel qualified in their military occupational specialty, have 95 percent of all personnel present for annual training or receive constructive credit for AT attendance, maintain monthly drill attendance of 90 percent, have 95 percent of all assigned personnel qualify with their assigned weapon, have 95 percent of all crews qualify on their assigned crew-served weapons, have 90 percent of all assigned personnel pass the Army Physical Fitness Test and pass the Organizational Inspection Program in all training categories.
To earn the Superior Unit Award, a unit must maintain an assigned strength of 95 percent of authorized each month of the training year for which being nominated, maintain monthly drill attendance of 95 percent, attain annual training attendance of 95 percent, have 95 percent of all assigned personnel qualify with their assigned weapon and have 90 percent of all assigned personnel pass the Army Physical Fitness Test.
The Kerwin award was named for retired Gen. Walter T. Kerwin, Jr., who served as the first commander of United States Forces Command and also as Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 1974 to 1978. Kerwin was a strong advocate of the “One Army,” or “Total Army,” concept that recognized the important role of the National Guard and U. S. Army Reserve. The plans and programs he set in motion resulted in a significant improvement in the readiness of reserve components.