A new Washington National Guard unit recently moved to Vancouver and is actively seeking recruits.
Bravo Company, 898th Brigade Engineer Battalion, will report to Stryker Bridgade at Camp Murray near Tacoma.
On Saturday, Washington National Guard members gave local media and Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, a tour of the Armed Forces Reserve Center in east Vancouver and some of the vehicles assigned to Bravo Company, such as an engineer squad vehicle and high mobility engineer excavator.
Within the company, there will be a few platoons tasked with different types of combat engineering: mobility, counter mobility and survivability. It often involves using vehicles and different technologies to remove obstacles, create obstacles or identify a safe route.
“That’s what the mission of this unit will be a lot of the time,” said Battalion Cmdr. Josh Barrow.
Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Shatto explained that the Washington National Guard works for the state and primarily responds to natural disasters. That might mean going to landslides, such as 2014’s landslide in Oso, or wildfires similar to 2017’s Eagle Creek Fire. Or, they may assist police.
The president can also petition the governor to use Washington National Guard soldiers for federal purposes.
The National Guard has made recruiting people to Bravo Company a high priority. Sgt. 1st Class Kirk Tyner, a head recruiter, said it’s easier to recruit people in Vancouver if they can do their service weekends in Vancouver.
The part-time work also draws Type A personalities who are looking for something more active rather than administrative. Many prior service applicants are from the Marine Corps.
“People join the guard for a change from their civilian jobs, you know, an outlet,” Barrow said. “This will definitely offer that.”
For instance, Capt. David Allen, the Bravo Company commander, is a Seattle police officer. He said ideally there will be 86 people in the company, though a more realistic goal would be to get 50 to 60 people by November 2020. A detachment in Longview will either fold into Bravo Company or another unit in eastern Washington.
Barrow said Bravo Company will have a partnership with Joint Base Lewis-McChord; soldiers will often start their service weekend in Vancouver and travel to the military base for training.
The unit will be preparing for a rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. in April. They are slotted for possible deployment to Poland in 2021.