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NEWS | Sept. 11, 2020

U.S. Army North’s new senior enlisted advisor reflects on COVID-19 response

By Lori A. Bultman 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Command Sgt. Maj. Phil K. Barretto, the new senior enlisted advisor for U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), arrived in Military City USA in July from South Korea, where he served as the 2nd Infantry Division, Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Division command sergeant major.

The new addition to the Strength of the Nation team looks forward to supporting homeland defense and civil authorities, while also securing initiatives to defend America.  

Barretto, an Aiea, Hawaii native, served previously as the commandant of the Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Fort Drum, New York, and as command sergeant major of 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Excelsior College and an Associate of Arts from Hawaii Pacific University. 

Upon his arrival, Barretto hit the ground running, visiting San Antonio medical centers where Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force members are providing support during the local COVID-19 surge.  

“My first impression was the amazing medical teams I encountered on the ground,” he said. “Right off the bat, I could see that they are caring professionals who work tirelessly every day to save lives throughout our communities.” 

The support U.S. Army North, as Northern Command’s designated lead component to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has provided locally and across the country is intended to relieve the pressure on the country’s overwhelmed civilian medical facilities.  

“We work hand-in-hand to support to our lead federal agencies in all responses, to include COVID-19,” Barretto said. “Coming from Korea, it's been an eye-opening experience to see first-hand how federal agencies respond to national-level crises.” 

Barretto is thankful to the joint-service men and women assigned to U.S. Army North who have answered the call during the coronavirus pandemic.  

“I am both proud and thankful for their efforts,” he said. “Every single day, these men and women are putting on gear and facing one of the greatest challenges our nation has seen in a long time.” 

Part of U.S. Army North’s mission is to remain continuously prepared to support those in need during homeland disasters or emergencies.  

“As the Joint Force Land Component Command to U.S. Northern Command, we have to be ready at any time,” Barretto said. “This response has sharpened our knife. As a learning organization, we are always looking for ways to improve based on lessons we learn from each response.” 

The command sergeant major looks forward to continuing his support of the dedicated Soldiers of U.S. Army North during his tenure.  

"This is a very challenging organization. I have never seen anything like this is my military career,” Barretto said. “But I am so proud to lead an organization that works tirelessly to serve our nation and defend the homeland.”