Prendergast reflects on ‘outstanding’ USARAF experience



By Meredith March Aug 31, 2018
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VICENZA, Italy – Brig. Gen. William J. Prendergast IV, who has served for the past year as the U.S. Army Africa deputy commanding general, as well as the Oregon National Guard assistant adjutant general – Army, has been selected as the Oregon National Guard land component commander.

As the USARAF deputy commanding general, Prendergast, who also maintains a civilian career as director of operations at Air Manufacturing Innovation at Nike Inc., traveled frequently to the African continent, representing USARAF in many of the 53 countries in the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility as often as a week per month. He provided senior leadership at a number of events attended and co-directed by USARAF’s international partners, including Accord and medical readiness exercises in South Africa, Cameroon and Uganda, and at the African Land Forces Summit in Nigeria.

Prendergast recently agreed to participate in a question and answer session about his time as USARAF deputy commanding general.

 

Q: What was the most rewarding/fulfilling aspect of your assignment at USARAF?

The most fulfilling aspect was conducting successful exercises with our African partners; each event was the culmination of great work by the Soldiers and civilians at USARAF.

Q: You traveled frequently to the continent during your tenure as DCG. How did you manage a demanding civilian career while taking such an active role in USARAF events on the continent? How difficult was it to manage the distance and time constraints?

My civilian manager is from the continent of Africa and understood the great work the U.S. government is doing on the continent. USARAF is a part of that great work and his support was critical to my participation. There were a lot of late nights in conference calls to the states and a lot of emails.

Q: Do you have any advice for National Guard members also trying to negotiate two successful careers?

To be successful in the guard, it is essential to have open communication with your employer. There are missed meetings and projects due to time away from work, but if we are communicating the National Guard story, our employers understand the new normal. But we as leaders need to understand the pinch points for our employers and set our Soldiers up for success.

Q: What impact do you feel National Guard Soldiers have on the command and its objectives in Africa? Does it help NG readiness?

The National Guard is making a big difference in Africa, for example, with the State Partnership Program and National Guard soldiers on (active duty operational support) within the command. What we are doing in Africa is important and all the components are playing a role on the continent. The guard is making a difference daily; by participating in theater security cooperation events, we are helping to create a safe and stable environment.

Q: What is next for you?

My next assignment is as the land component commander for the Oregon National Guard. The Oregon Army Guard has over 6,000 Soldiers and almost every (military occupational specialty) in the Army inventory. Currently we are deployed in support of the governor, protecting lives and property from wildland forest fires.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

My time at USARAF has been outstanding. The people, mission and our African partners have made this a growth experience for me. The command does wonderful things with a small budget and the commitment of the Soldiers and civilians within the command; with continued hard work we will be successful in creating a safe and stable continent.

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