I’m sitting in an office at Brigade headquarters.
I’m at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska.
I’m closer to Russia and Japan than I am to my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
I’m 200 miles from the Arctic Circle.
With generous funding from my Department, I’ve traveled thousands of miles to learn what writing is and what it accomplishes within the U.S. Army. More specifically, I wanna know how Major Brian Forester, the Brigade S-3, uses writing to accomplish the many planning and operations that cycle through the 1st Brigade 25th Infantry here in Fairbanks. Major Forester reports directly to a Colonel, one of the three 0-6 Colonels overseeing activities at Fort Wainwright. As I sit in Forester’s office, I watch him coordinate current training exercises to Fort Polk in Louisiana, prepare for training exercises in the around the pacific. From his iPhone, he thumbs through email after email and with a few swipes and taps moves the 4500 soldiers at Fort Wainwright from Here to There.
His office is a collection of literate practices; his conference table covered in timelines; his dry erase board covered in timelines; his desk covered in paper-clipped documents; his wall covered in topographical maps of the immediate area.
Fairbanks, Alaska is an outpost. Not a place people pass through and low on the tourist interest level for Alaska. In Fairbanks, the soaring, majestic peaks of the Chugach Mountains are gone; the coast is gone; the glaciers are gone. The President isn’t making publicity stops in Fairbanks nor are senators or generals. But this Fort, like all Army forts scattered in desolate and populated areas alike, fulfills a critical mission of being on high alert, well-trained and well-equipped for deployment to a theater of war at any moment.
With a collective rallying cry of “Arctic Strong,” this Brigade completes the many tasks and orders circulated through its space. And one of the central nodes for this continued circulation of the office is Major Brian Forester.
What does writing mean to him? How does he accomplish writing and how does writing—in a broadly conceived understanding of this noun and verb—help coordinate the movement of thousands of troops from Alaska to Louisiana to Korea to Australia all in the quest of betterment and all in the quest of strengthening our national security?