The head of the Army’s I Corps, headquartered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, said the corps is broadening its focus from the Pacific to winning in any environment.
Army Times spoke with Volesky about his priorities, the corps’ challenges and what’s new for the organization.
Q. How have your priorities changed since assuming command a year ago?
A. When I got here, we really focused on exercises in the Pacific to really keep the Army footprint in the Pacific. But because of the strategic environment and the deployments we had to get ready to support, we really started to change into more of a deploy, fight and win and really an operational deployment focus. ... really getting this corps headquarters and all of our subordinates focused on deployments. So readiness is our Number One priority.
We have to be ready, and you’ve heard the chief of staff of the Army talk about there is no other Number One, it’s readiness. So everything we’re focused on today is being ready to deploy and fight. We did our first war fighter [exercise] ever not in the U.S. — we did it in the Pacific. That was great to get the corps to say, hey we can deploy and do these missions outside of JBLM.
Q. What are some challenges the corps is facing?
A. My biggest challenge I think in the next year is going to be to sustain that focus. Going through a lot of transition with key people, we’ll have to bring a new team on and really kind of get them trained up on what we’ve done over the past year to sustain our ability to be ready to go.
Q. With the smaller pool of people eligible to join the military, what is I Corps doing to retain the soldiers it has?
A. What we want to do is tell people, hey, this is a profession, and it’s a profession that less than 1 percent of our nation volunteers to serve in. It’s, in my mind — obviously I’m a little biased — the most important one because we defend our freedom. When soldiers get here … we have to get them integrated with our Army values and talk to them about why this profession is so important. We can’t just take guys coming out of basic training and say okay now you’re going to do a 12-mile foot march in four hours because they’re not physically ready.
Some of that is we have to build them up to be able to achieve the standards that we need.
The other part is, how do you make them the best they can be? … We make sure we empower them, we train them, we make sure they’re ready to lead our national treasure, and those are our sons and daughters.
Q. What are some new initiatives happening this year?
A. The corps has been tagged to do the multi-domain task force pilot program, which is really a unit where we go to really look at how we’re able to enter a theater. You’ve heard about anti-access/area denial, A2/AD. One of the brigades in the corps has been designated by [U.S. Army Pacific] to be the lead for [the task force]. There’s a number of exercises they’re doing to test out some capabilities that would make it easier for us to get into a theater.
Our artillery brigade [the 17th Field Artillery Brigade] is doing that.
Q. What’s coming up this year for I Corps?
A. One big new thing this year is … it’s our centennial. We’ve got a number of events throughout the year that highlight I Corps 100 Years of Courage. We have a number of events planned. … How are we maintaining that drumbeat of the history of the corps?
That’s one of the challenges we have in the corps is really getting our brand out. You know, people think we’re kind of the Pacific and that’s all we do. No, we’re not just in the Pacific. We have … a brigade in Afghanistan. We’re really across the globe.