MSU faculty member commands National Guard battalion in Kuwait

Mississippi Army National Guard Lt. Col. Kenneth V. Anthony, left, accepts command of the 2nd Battalion, 198th Armored Regiment from Lt. Col. Christopher W. Cooksey in a ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 1. In civilian life, Anthony is an associate professor in the MSU College of Education. (Submitted photo)

Staff Writer

A Mississippi State University associate professor is taking on a new responsibility in his role as a Mississippi Army National Guard officer.

In a ceremony on New Year's Day, Lt. Col. Kenneth V. Anthony, an associate professor in the MSU College of Education, took command of the Mississippi National Guard 2nd Battalion, 198th Armored Regiment based in Senatobia and currently nearing the end of a yearlong deployment to the Middle East. The battalion is currently serving in Kuwait. Anthony assumed command of the battalion from Lt. Col. Christopher Cooksey.

Anthony has served in the Army since 1991, and has served in various capacities across three battalions and brigade headquarters.

“The National Guard is in many ways a family,” Anthony said. “During my time here as the battalion operations officer from 2014 to 2016 and in other roles in the brigade, I have developed a strong bond with the soldiers, NCOs, and officers of this unit and feel that I am taking command of a strong, effective, and resilient unit.”

He said as battalion commander, his role was to provide “purpose, direction and motivation” to the battalion to accomplish all its missions. He also said he was tasked with improving the battalion. He assumed command of the battalion as a major, but his promotion to lieutenant colonel went through on Friday.

Anthony said he was interested in the military as a child, and decided to join after high school to help him pay for college. He first served in a U.S. Army Reserve unit based in Tupelo before moving to the National Guard.

“I’ve since stayed in the military because it has consistently been a rewarding part of my life,” Anthony said. “I’ve had the chance to lead soldiers in Iraq as an infantry platoon leader and as a cavalry troop commander. I’ve served as an intelligence officer during a peacekeeping operation in Bosnia, and am currently commanding an armored battalion stationed in Kuwait that has conducted operations in eight different countries in the Middle East in an effort to maintain and strengthen existing partnerships and to deter aggression.”

In his position at MSU, Anthony teaches social studies methods courses for elementary education majors and participates in research as the principal investigator for a Library of Congress grant. He also serves as the undergraduate coordinator for elementary education.

He said his background as an educator shaped his leadership as a military officer, with a focus on accomplishment and improvement.

The goal of any leader should be to leave the organization he is entrusted with better than when he took command,” Anthony said. “Teaching and military leadership are similar in that in both a leader establishes objectives, develops a plan to meet those objectives, and then assesses the results, and makes adjustments to operations.”

With the unit’s homecoming drawing nearer, Anthony emphasized the importance of his soldiers being able to make a smooth transition back to civilian life.

"I want to make sure they have the resources necessary to make this transition smoothly. This is my fourth overseas deployment and I know that many soldiers will have difficulties transitioning back to their roles as members of their family, as employees at their jobs, or in other capacities in their community,” Anthony said. “The Army has the resources to support soldier transitions home, I want to make sure that the soldiers know what those resources are and that they know how to access them.”

Once stateside, the unit will prepare for further missions with members attending various schools and trainings. Units will also participate in individual and collective training.

Anthony also said it was important to remember National Guard members even when they are stateside, and to remember their sacrifices.

“We often focus on these soldiers during times when they are deployed overseas, but often forget that their ability to deploy and conduct complex and difficult missions for nine months in another country is only possible because of their sacrifice when they are back home juggling their civilian and military lives,” Anthony said.

The 2nd Battalion, 198th Armored Regiment is a unit of the Mississippi Army National Guard 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team “Dixie Thunder” Units of the command are based in Starkville, Tupelo, Senatobia, Amory, Meridian, McComb, Monticello and in Kansas City, Kansas.