When 1st Lt. Matthew Norman deployed to South Korea with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, he knew the mission: stay trained, focused and ready should North Korea follow through with threats to go to war with the U.S. and its ally South Korea.
After all, the motto of the division the First Team soldiers are attached to in Korea is “Fight Tonight.”
Since he arrived in Korea in June, tensions between the communist regime of North Korea and the United States have grown. Nuclear tests have increased under dictator Kim Jong Un and diplomacy soured with name-calling from President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader.
Last month, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-N.C., called for the Pentagon to remove all U.S. military dependents from South Korea, because the possibility of war appears so imminent.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army’s mission has continued with the usual training-focused operational tempo.
“That motto has never changed and our focus and readiness hasn’t changed at all. We are ready,” said Norman, a Howitzer platoon leader with 2nd Brigade’s 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment. “Soldiers are good at keeping up with the op-tempo. We are as ready to fight tonight as we have ever been.”
Meanwhile, back at Fort Hood, Norman’s wife Jessica Norman said she doesn’t keep up with the news too much. She did in college, but now as mother to a toddler with another baby on the way, she’s more focused on them and serving as the Family Readiness Group leader. However, she does occasionally hear about news regarding North Korea.
“It’s mostly from friends and family who are so kind and concerned,” she said.
Among spouses in the unit, Jessica Norman said concerns don’t really come up, but that could be because the deployment is coming to an end in the next couple of months.
“When you go through this month to month, it’s just business as usual. You get a little more comfortable,” she said, adding she finds reassurance in the calmness of spouses more experienced with deployments. This is the first for the Normans.
Despite the busy training schedules, Matthew Norman said he and fellow soldiers are able to go out and enjoy Korean culture and visit Seoul, which is a short distance from their post at Camp Casey/Hovey.
Through Warrior Adventure Quest, troops were able to waterski on a Korean lake.
“We’ve trained well together, too,” Matthew Norman said. “Our Table 12 (training exercise) was a great experience to do our job and challenge ourselves and prove we have what it takes.”
Similarly, Spc. Sydni Kloczkowski, a preventative medicine specialist with the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, has enjoyed participating in field exercises and going on her first ruck march and spur ride.
She was previously assigned to a small military hospital, so she’s learning what it means to be in a combat unit.
“I’m confident in everything required of the tasks needed if we go to war,” she said.
While her husband, also a Fort Hood soldier, does keep up with the news related to North Korea, he’s not concerned. In fact, he flew in to visit his wife and they rang in the new year together in Seoul.