RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA –
In 2018 when Sgt. 1st Class Davin Stovell saw a job posted on the Army’s Tour of Duty website, he knew it was tailor fit, not only for himself, but also for his two brothers, Staff Sgts. Daryl and Daniel Stovell.
Wanted: Military instructors within a Training and Advising Detachment for a Security Cooperation Organization working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), planning and implementing curricula designed to teach and mentor officers, noncommissioned officers and instructors assigned to the KSA Ministry of Interior.
“It was like the advertisement was a list of our qualifications and life experiences,” Davin said, who like his three brothers and two sisters, grew up as military kids.
The three Stovell brothers, full-time members of the Los Angeles Police Department, who were once in the National Guard and now Army Reserve, applied and were soon accepted.
Davin, who enlisted as an active-duty Army infantryman in 1995, and his brothers, who joined post 9/11, follow a proud military family tradition and legacy of service to the Army.
Five generations of the Stovell family tree have worn Army colors, starting with their great-grandfather, the first Stovell to wear an Army uniform. Their grandfather served in Korea, and their father, Donell Sr., did two combat tours to Vietnam.
The fourth older Stovell brother is in the Army Reserve, and their older sister is deployed overseas with the Mississippi National Guard. The family has not only served in the Army, but has served in every Army component.
Altogether, the five generations have completed nine combat tours, with more on the way before their duty to country and service in the Army is complete.
“Right now we have four sons, a daughter and a grandson in the Army,” said Donell Sr., the father. “We also have a daughter that is a teacher, so all our kids serve their country. It’s our family’s ultimate sacrifice. I don’t brag about it or boast about it, but I am really proud of them all.”
Davin, Daryl and Daniel are serving as military training advisers, assigned to Security Assistance Command’s Ministry of Interior-Military Assistance Group, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As a subordinate organization of USASAC, MOI-MAG’s mission is to build partner readiness that ultimately enhances regional security.
Collectively the three brothers have already given more than 80 years of public service: 53 in the military and 26 as police officers with the LAPD. And they’re not done yet.
“It is awe-inspiring to know as an Army officer and as an American that there are families out there like the Stovells, who have just decided that dedication to duty and to the United States is part of their family legacy,” said Lt. Col. John Watson, detachment commander at the training site where the Stovell brothers are deployed. “That’s just who the Stovell family are. It’s just how they were raised.”
The MOI-MAG program is the only program in the world where a U.S. Department of Defense organization has a train-and-advise partnership with another country’s Ministry of Interior. One of the primary missions of MOI-MAG personnel – all who are Army reservists -- is training the Facilities Security Force that protect the country’s civil structures and facilities, much like what the U.S. government’s Department of Homeland Security does.
“We have a very small footprint, but a very large responsibility training the FSF soldiers,” Watson said. “Which means that rather than training military forces, the personnel we train go all over the country, protecting critical infrastructure sites like ports, bridges, oil refineries and desalinization plants. None of the capabilities we teach are offensive in nature; we only teach ways for our Saudi partners to defend a site or themselves.”
For the Stovell brothers, teaching defensive techniques to a partner force is natural fit. All are trained drill instructors. All have served on deployments in places such as Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, Panama, Germany and Australia. Altogether they have served four combat tours in Iraq.
“Ultimately it will make the FSF soldiers better at what they do,” Davin said. “We’re trying to give them as much training as we can; training like how to handle a weapon, reflexive fire, clearing a building, establishing a checkpoint, how to do a patrol, conducting vehicle searches at an entry control, and even how to protect themselves if they are physically attacked.
At the same time, Davin said, he's learning from his students as well.
For Watson, having three brothers, all highly experienced noncommissioned officers, on his team is an interesting story, but he said, “I think what makes it a better story is that the three brothers that I have working for me are fantastic instructors, they are doing an extraordinary job of making FSF soldiers better at what they do.”
“As the detachment commander, it is also an effective story,” Watson said. “We took three very experienced, very professional NCOs, regardless of what their last name was, brought them out here with their military and LAPD experience, and they are doing phenomenal work for U.S. and Saudi relationships.”