The U.S. Army Reserve's 301st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 416th Theater Engineer Command, assumed authority of Area Support Group-Jordan (ASG-J) in a transfer of authority ceremony Sunday.
The 301st MEB, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, mobilized to the Kingdom of Jordan earlier this month in support of Operation Spartan Shield. They replaced the 655th Regional Support Group of Westover Armed Forces Reserve Center, Massachusetts, 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), as the Base Operating Support-Integrator (BOS-I) for U.S. forces in Jordan.
The 655th RSG has been mobilized to Jordan since last July. Their commander, Col. Theresa Rusin, gave thanks to their hosts in her outgoing remarks.
"Despite our great longing for our families and loved ones who are waiting for us back home, it will be difficult for us to say goodbye to our partners in Jordan," Rusin said.
Assuming command of ASG-J was Col. Derek Ulehla, commander of the 301st MEB, who thanked the 655th RSG for preparing the 301st MEB for the BOS-I mission.
“Let us continue in their tradition and make a lasting impact,” said Ulehla.
At ASG-J, the 301st MEB joined the 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment, Washington National Guard, which has been in Jordan since November.
"We feel fortunate to be working with our neighbors from back home," said Ulehla during the ceremony. “It will be rewarding to get up every day and know that our Soldiers from the Pacific Northwest are representing the best of the United States."
The 1-303rd Cavalry, commanded by Lt. Col. Timothy Ozmer, operates the military training partnership between the U.S. and Jordan under the Jordan Operational Engagement Program (JOEP).
The JOEP is the largest Title 10 U.S. Code Section 333 program of its kind. It was established to build a strong and enduring partnership with Jordan, which is one of the nation’s strongest allies in the region.
“Our mission is now to support training in Jordan as we build partner capabilities and develop joint readiness,” said Ulehla. “We will continue the legacy of past units that have represented our flag well by maintaining high levels of engagement.”
Coincidentally, the 301st MEB’s BOS-I and the 1-303rd Cavalry’s JOEP missions have brought together two brothers-in-law.
Married to sisters, they are Staff Sgt. Zachary Taylor, a 91B Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic with the 301st MEB, and Staff Sgt. Daniel Burkey, a 19D Calvary Scout with the 1-303rd Calvary.
Taylor said he found out he would be based out of the Joint Training Center, Jordan (JTC), alongside Burkey in November, and was ecstatic.
"I’ve never worked with another unit from Washington," said Taylor, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, and native of Newport, Washington. “My daughter Avery is really excited that I'm here working with Uncle Dan.”
“It’s crazy,” agreed Burkey, a two-tour Afghanistan veteran, and also of Newport, Washington. “Our units represent different branches and components of the Army. It's wild that we left Washington State to serve overseas and ended up together.”
The brothers-in-law expressed they have enjoyed their experiences in Jordan thus far.
“It’s been fun for our Soldiers,” said Burkey, a platoon sergeant with A Troop, 1-303rd Calvary. “They’re getting a lot of training time and leadership experience that we’re going to bring back to Washington.”
"We've been building relationships with the Jordanians here at JTC from day one,” said Taylor, who is in charge of maintenance at ASG-J.
“The Jordanians are really good people and motivated to work with us,” added Burkey. “Their officers are extremely capable. Many of them have trained overseas in joint environments.”
“We’re honored to be here,” said Taylor.
The brothers-in-law serve in uniform back home as well. Taylor is a military technician for the Army Reserve at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Burkey is a police officer with the Priest River Police Department in Idaho.
Both are familiar with long periods of duty overseas, and wished to acknowledge their wives for their enduring support.
“I want to thank my wife Ashley for taking care of our kids, Chase, Kassidie, Cohen, and Kinley,” said Burkey.
“I'm really proud of my wife, Richele, who is working and studying full time while taking care of Avery while I'm gone,” said Taylor.
The 301st MEB was activated in September of 2008 for the primary purpose of providing critical maneuver support to commanders in operational environments. This is the unit’s first overseas mobilization as a headquarters element since its activation.