Face of Defense: Eagle Scouts Soar in Intel Battalion

ARLINGTON, Va., July 29, 2010 — The Utah Nation­al Guard’s 141st Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence Bat­tal­ion will deploy to Iraq in a few weeks with 83 sol­diers who have earned Eagle Scout badges from the Boy Scouts of Amer­i­ca.

Utah National Guard's 141st Military Intelligence Battalion
These 83 sol­diers with the Utah Nation­al Guard’s 141st Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence Bat­tal­ion have earned the rank of Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of Amer­i­ca. The bat­tal­ion will deploy to Iraq lat­er this year.
U.S. Army pho­to by Sgt. First Class Scott Fad­dis
Click to enlarge

“It’s easy being a bat­tal­ion com­man­der of Eagle Scouts, because you don’t have to wor­ry about them,” said Army Lt. Col. Matt Price, the bat­tal­ion com­man­der and a scout leader for his sons, who include three Eagle Scouts. “They have high val­ues, because they have been taught that as young men. You can trust them.”

The 286-mem­ber unit is in field train­ing at its pre-mobi­liza­tion site, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Dur­ing a recent meet­ing with civil­ian employ­ers, Price said, he asked all the Eagle Scouts in the room to stand. Almost half of his unit stood up. So dur­ing the next bat­tal­ion for­ma­tion, the Eagle Scouts were asked to stay behind for a group pho­to. That is when they count­ed off as 83 Eagle Scouts rep­re­sent­ing all ranks and many mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion­al spe­cial­ties.

The unit’s senior non­com­mis­sioned offi­cer, Army Com­mand Sgt. Maj. Michael Lofland, is a scout mas­ter.

“We feel like [part of the] the scout pro­gram,” Price said. “To me, the Scout Law is sim­i­lar to Army val­ues.”

Price said he believes Robert Baden Pow­ell, the founder of Boy Scouts, would be proud of his cre­ation. “We’re cel­e­brat­ing 100 years of Boy Scout­ing this year, and if he could look back and see what is going on, he would be quite hap­py.”

In Iraq, the bat­tal­ion will con­duct human intel­li­gence mis­sions with Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces. “We will be direct­ly train­ing and advis­ing them how to do force pro­tec­tion,” Price said. Price said he appre­ci­ates the unique­ness of his cit­i­zen-sol­diers. They are old­er and col­lege edu­cat­ed, with more real-world expe­ri­ence as teach­ers and police offi­cers, he not­ed. “I am bring­ing a group of com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers with me to Iraq,” he said.

Price said his Eagle Scouts also bring addi­tion­al skills to the Guard. “The Boy Scout pro­gram itself teach­es young men to be men,” he said. “You teach them val­ues. … You are teach­ing them sur­viv­abil­i­ty skills. They are used to camp­ing, and used to rough­ing it.”

Eagle Scout is the high­est rank attain­able in the Boy Scouts. Since its intro­duc­tion in 1911, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than 2 mil­lion young men, accord­ing to pub­lished reports. The title is held for life.

Between the ages of 12 and 18, a Scout will work to achieve Eagle rank by earn­ing 12 required mer­it badges and nine elec­tive mer­it badges. He also must demon­strate “Scout Spir­it” through the Boy Scout oath and law and through com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice and lead­er­ship, which includes an exten­sive ser­vice project that the Scout plans, orga­nizes, leads and man­ages.

Earn­ing the Eagle Scout’s badge was “the only thing I had done in my life that led me to think that I could make a dif­fer­ence; that I could be a leader,” Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates told an esti­mat­ed crowd of 45,000 gath­ered on 12,000 acres on Fort A.P. Hill, Va., as part of the annu­al Nation­al Scout Jam­boree yes­ter­day.

“It was the first thing I had done that told me I might be dif­fer­ent, because I had worked hard­er, was more deter­mined, more goal-ori­ent­ed, more per­sis­tent than most oth­ers,” Gates said.

Price said the key to scout­ing is ser­vice to oth­ers.

“To be able to pro­tect your­self and your fam­i­ly but also look out­wards and help oth­ers,” he said. “These are dif­fer­ent kinds of sol­diers. They look beyond them­selves. We are bring­ing a high­er qual­i­ty of cit­i­zen-sol­dier with us who is look­ing for ways to help oth­er peo­ple.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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