Clovis Guard commander touts new mission as civilian-job friendly

Trailers at the National Guard Armory on Tuesday are prepared to be shipped to Gallup, Santa Fe and Las Cruces to clear out space for new equipment to aid in the new water distribution mission. (Staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The new commander of Clovis’ National Guard said the skills involved in carrying out the unit’s new mission will be more beneficial to guardsmen in their civilian lives.

In recent months, the unit has begun a switch from air defense to combat service support, a change that falls in line with restructuring occurring throughout the armed forces, according to Capt. Kirt Rothe of Roswell, who took over command of the Clovis unit May 7.

Truck driving and management of fuels, storage and water purification are some of the skills Rothe said will easily transfer to civilian life.

Greater versatility gained by serving in a combat services support unit will attract newcomers, Rothe said, and strengthening numbers is among his goals. Increasing community involvement is another way Rothe hopes to change the image of the unit.

In the last two years, Rothe said the unit has been tasked with deployments that have left it at minimal manpower and virtually nonexistent in the community.

As the new mission gets under way, the community will notice an increased activity level.

“You’re going to see a lot more National Guard traffic through town. You’re going to see a lot more transport and equipment movement,” he said, explaining the supply and shipping aspects of the new mission will step up the traffic in and out of the armory.

Since February the unit has grown from 40 soldiers to 65, according to Sgt. 1st Class Terry Stevens, noncommissioned officer who oversees company readiness.

“We’re really growing,” he said. “With military jobs that can coincide with civilian jobs, it’s a very good opportunity for these guys to get experience they can use in the real world.”

Rothe is a 22-year veteran of the armed forces.

“(His background) gives him a better outlook and the skill set and the knowledge to guide us through our transition,” Stevens said. “He’s a pretty well-rounded individual, and we’re lucky to have him in our unit.”