The 139th Brigade Support Battalion, based in Brookings, received the Gen. Walter T. Kerwin, Jr. Award as the most outstanding Army National Guard battalion in the nation presented by the Association of the United States Army earlier this month.

The 139th BSB received the award at the AUSA annual conference in Washington, D.C., which recognizes the top performing Army National Guard and Army Reserve units in the country.

The Brookings-based 139th BSB demonstrated excellence in operational planning, execution of training and maintaining high readiness standards above all other Army National Guard units for training year 2018.

“Our focus and my intent to the commanders in the battalion has been readiness and to push the bar even higher than the previous year,” said Lt. Col. Mike Webb, 139th commander. “That’s what the Kerwin Award is all about, and it’s an amazing honor to be recognized for the hard work these Soldiers put in.”

During the 2018 training year, the 139th BSB provided mission command and supervision for five units and detachments with about 360 Soldiers in five communities throughout South Dakota. They assisted assigned units in meeting training, administrative and logistical requirements to maintain the unit’s readiness in support of their state and federal missions.

Evaluation criteria for the award include the areas of assigned personnel strength, percentage of personnel qualified in their duty position, attendance at monthly drill weekends and annual training, individual weapons qualification and physical fitness test scores, as well as an effective maintenance program.

Units under the 139th command for the training year included the 139th’s Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment in Brookings; Company A, 139th BSB in Watertown; Company B, 139th BSB in Mitchell; 235th Military Police Company in Rapid City and its detachment in Sioux Falls; and the 115th Signal Company in Brookings.

The Kerwin Award was first established in 1976 after the former U.S. Army vice chief of staff who served as the first commander of U.S. Army Forces Command. The command was responsible for ensuring the readiness and training of all Army units in the United States.

Kerwin was a strong advocate of the “One Army” or “Total Army” concept that recognized the important role of the National Guard and Army Reserve. The programs he initiated resulted in a significant improvement in the readiness of reserve components.