Military personnel today fight a war on two fronts. For decades, peace-loving Americans considered the term “defense” to mean defending U.S. interests overseas. The global war on terrorism has exposed the threat of secretive, clandestine evil. Enemies lacking the courage to stand on the battlefield have slithered into civilian society and targeted noncombatants. The National Guard is our first line of defense against homeland threats, and a local soldier spoke to the Progress about how the Guard stands ready to protect against contemporary adversaries.
Sargent Darren Bass, Pontotoc County’s recruiter said the Pontotoc National Guard is vigilant and prepared. Over 60 strong, the members of the 198 Cavalry spends time with extensive training so they can be ready on a moment’s notice. The local guard is located at 1743 Highway 15 North here in Pontotoc.
Q: Has the profile of the average National Guard soldier changed over the years?
A: The soldier’s profile has definitely changed. Soldiers today are more knowledgeable than ever, fully prepared to fulfill their Military Occupational Specialty. We come from all over the country, and are equipped to the standard. We are physically and mentally tough. Soldiers are taught to do their jobs with skill, precision, and attention to detail, no matter the task.
National Guard soldiers are armed with the most modern training and ideas from military and civilian sectors.
Q: The country’s defensive needs have changed. Explain how the Guard is adapting to meet those needs.
A: Practice makes perfect. Data is always changing. The Guard addresses contemporary needs by training in pertinent environments. We train soldiers in a variety of scenarios to address a variety of threats. This keeps our success and efficiency high.
Q: Talk about the readiness of the Pontotoc County National Guard.
A: It stands ready at any time, to confront any domestic threat. We are trained in several disciplines.
Q: What are the benefits of being a National Guard soldier?
A: There are many benefits--too many to list here. To begin, tuition is fully covered at Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi, the Mississippi University for Women, and Jackson State University. The GI Bill also provides soldiers $392 per month.
If an applicant scores above 50 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, they receive an additional $350 on top of drill pay and the GI Bill. Health insurance for a soldier is less than $50 per month, and covers the same as any major insurance company. (Editor’s note: The ASVAB assesses a person’s current knowledge in eight subject areas, including English, science, mechanics, and electronics. It covers not only current knowledge but propensity.)
Q: Anything else?
A: The National Guard prides itself in preparedness and effectiveness. I strongly encourage the next generation of servicemembers to keep the standard high and to serve their communities and their country. The guard always welcomes new members and if you want to sign up or learn more, please call me, Sgt. Darren Bass at 731-803-1017.