Face of Defense: Infantryman Doubles as Outpost Mayor

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan — He’s nev­er had to take a plat­form to the vot­ers, deal with crit­i­cal media cov­er­age or bal­ance the books at City Hall. But as may­or of Com­bat Out­post Deh Yak here, Army Staff Sgt. Wes­ley Shealey has more in com­mon with his civil­ian coun­ter­parts than most peo­ple know.
Both work to ensure the safe­ty and health of their com­mu­ni­ties, pro­vide recre­ation­al oppor­tu­ni­ties and facil­i­tate order­ly traf­fic flow. The big dif­fer­ence is that Shealey gov­erns in east­ern Afghanistan.

Shealey, a 1st Infantry Divi­sion infantry­man assigned to the Fort Knox, Ky.-based Head­quar­ters and Head­quar­ters Com­pa­ny, 2nd Bat­tal­ion, 2nd Infantry Reg­i­ment, 3rd Brigade Com­bat Team, Task Force Duke, is serv­ing a one-year deploy­ment here that began in Jan­u­ary.

Less than a week into his tour, the Jack­sonville, Fla., native was des­ig­nat­ed by his supe­ri­ors to be the com­bat outpost’s may­or, large­ly because he had the ini­tia­tive and per­son­al­i­ty need­ed to inter­act not only with the local peo­ple, but also with sol­diers seek­ing answers to numer­ous prob­lems.

He’s bal­anc­ing his new may­oral duties along­side his reg­u­lar job as the non­com­mis­sioned offi­cer in charge of the company’s oper­a­tions intel­li­gence team. “I’m still only get­ting one pay­check,” he joked.

The mayor’s duties are a full-time job in their own right. Hav­ing days off like a civil­ian may­or is a lux­u­ry Shealey has­n’t enjoyed yet, large­ly due to the upkeep of the plumb­ing and elec­tri­cal sys­tems on which his con­stituents depend.

“The [com­bat out­post] may­or is a jack of all trades, with one of the most impor­tant posi­tions on any instal­la­tion,” said Army 1st Sgt. Michael Berry of the 2nd Battalion’s Com­pa­ny C and a native of Colum­bia, S.C.

Berry and Army Capt. Michael Car­rion of Bell Buck­le, Tenn., Com­pa­ny C’s com­man­der, receive a dai­ly report from Shealey sum­ma­riz­ing con­cerns such as the need to main­tain ade­quate fuel resources to keep tac­ti­cal oper­a­tions run­ning seam­less­ly.

“You can’t sur­vive with­out it,” Berry said of Shealey’s role.

As for his oth­er may­oral duties, name the civil­ian equiv­a­lent and odds are good that Shealey is doing it.

Waste water and fresh water con­cerns? He puri­fies and reg­u­lar­ly tests the non­potable water his sol­diers use for hygiene, and he stages bot­tled water across the out­post for drink­ing.

Fire pre­ven­tion? He main­tains fire-con­trol mea­sures and equip­ment near the outpost’s many fuel points, which have pumps that require his new gen­er­a­tor-mechan­ic skills.

Shealey even dab­bles in police-type work, ensur­ing local work­ers are prop­er­ly escort­ed around the out­post and that trucks mak­ing deliv­er­ies fol­low traf­fic reg­u­la­tions. He also super­vis­es the morale, wel­fare and recre­ation cen­ter, acquires new fit­ness equip­ment and assists with oth­er morale issues.

For sol­diers deployed to such a dis­tant, iso­lat­ed loca­tion, those oth­er issues often come down to receiv­ing let­ters and pack­ages from home. The may­or helps to sort the mail and puts the word out when it arrives, but he’s not a mir­a­cle work­er when it comes to the post office.

“Mail is a lit­tle slow, with some let­ters tak­ing a month to get here,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest issues.”

Shealey has a full-time assis­tant: Army Spc. Vic­tor Gar­cia, a Com­pa­ny C infantry­man from Den­ver who knew Shealey long before the present deploy­ment.

“He was one of the first men­tors I had at Fort Knox,” Gar­cia said.

Effec­tive­ly gov­ern­ing Com­bat Out­post Deh Yak and devel­op­ing young sol­diers into lead­ers are Shealey’s main pro­fes­sion­al tasks, but a planned retire­ment from the Army also is on the hori­zon, along with a pos­si­ble return to his civil­ian career as a para­medic, a posi­tion he held dur­ing a break in mil­i­tary ser­vice from 1999 to 2003.

His wife, Alisha, is a nurse, and they have three sons who range in age from 5 to 9. Though they undoubt­ed­ly look for­ward to Shealey switch­ing to the hats he wears as hus­band and father, the chance to make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion for his com­mu­ni­ty and its res­i­dents here is impor­tant to him, he said.

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

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →