About Me – Bio of Joe Gilbert

I was born in Ogdensburg, NY on 16 December 1966.    I am the youngest of six – five brothers and one sister.  By the time I came around, my sister, Vicki had already gotten married and wasn’t living at home, and the next oldest son, Donald, had died in a tragic accident at a local quarry.

So, growing up, there was me and my three brothers at home.  We spent our time hiking, camping, fishing, swimming in local rivers and lakes and were really into the Boy Scouts.  My brother Bob and I were wilderness survival and camping instructors by the time we were 16, both officers in the BSA Order of the Arrow and Life scouts. I played high school football and ran winter track and took tae kwon do in high school. And I joined the Army Reserve just after my 18th birthday while still a senior in high school. I graduated on 28 June, 1985 and was standing at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri for Combat Engineer basic training on 29 June.

Returning from basic I went to Potsdam State University but was not a good student. I was ready to “go do” and didn’t have the patience to sit in a classroom. I joined the active Army and went to my first duty station in Darmstadt, Germany in 1987.  Assigned to the 547th Combat Engineer Battalion (mechanized) we guarded the Fulda Gap and trained and stood ready to face off against the Russians if they invaded Western Europe. This was while Ronald Reagan was in office, and I was proud to do my part in what I still think was World War III – the struggle between Communism and the Free World.  On our tours of duty on the border, I caught glimpses of the misery and poverty that resulted from an all-powerful government on the other side. We all took our oaths seriously and knew that if it weren’t for us, that same misery would take over here too. I subsequently did tours in Korea on the DMZ with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion as a Private First Class and Specialist.  Then I was transferred to the 19th Combat Engineer Battalion, Fort Knox, KY.

Throughout these tours, I continued to take college courses at night and on the weekends. I’d sit on top of my armored personnel carrier, with my books out, trying to write a paper or complete an assignment before class. By 1993, I had amassed enough credits to obtain my Associate’s Degree and was selected for Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. I graduated in May, 1993 and was branched Armor.  I attended Armor Officer Basic Course and Airborne School before being sent back to Germany.  I had gotten married and had two sons by then too. In Germany I was a tank platoon leader and tank company executive officer before rotating back to the states to attend the Armor Officer Advance Course.  I was promoted to Captain and was selected to go to Special Forces Officer Course.  After successfully completing two of the four phases of that school, I was then branched Military Intelligence.

After more training, I was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, NY as the battalion intelligence officer.  After that tour I was assigned as an Intelligence Operations Officer with the XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, NC. My first day of duty with the Airborne was 9/11/2001. We worked night and day both protecting key assets in the U.S. while feverishly providing up-to-date intelligence for the teams going into Afghanistan.  I was the intelligence lead on two key initiatives – the Millennium Challenge which was the first digital jump in joint and combined operations at the division and corps level and the US Army Aviation Deep Strike Initiative that were subsequently used for the first time in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I was divorced at about this same time.

Then I was selected for company command with the 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.  I commanded two companies in that battalion. First I had the Headquarters Company and then, after the unit received its deployment orders for Operation Iraqi Freedom, I was given command of the reconnaissance company. In C Company, 203rd MI BN, I had the unique opportunity of recruiting, training an entire company. When I took command of the unit, it had 7 Soldiers assigned.  I had 3 months to bring the company to full strength of 63 Soldiers and deploy to combat in Iraq. In Iraq, C Company was assigned as the reconnaissance unit in support of the Iraq Survey Group in the search for WMDs.  I conducted over 200 intelligence raids and recon missions throughout Iraq and we captured over 500 tons of enemy weapons and other materiel of military significance. It was the largest repatriation of enemy weapons since World War II.  Despite numerous IED attacks, sniper incidents and a few direct fire fights, I never lost a Solder and returned home with 63 healthy veterans. After that, I was promoted to Major and reassigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA. I was assigned as a Intelligence Operations Officer on the Division staff, but was practically assigned as the Intelligence Officer, Division Effects.  That meant that I was responsible for intelligence collection for the politics, economics, tribal, ethnic and religious affairs, and the inside information on the Iraqi Army and Police forces. I deployed in that capacity back to Baghdad in 2005.

I worked primarily as a free-lance intelligence collections officer on the streets of Baghdad for the 12 month deployment.  Sometimes not seeing eye-to-eye with my superiors as to the true nature of the conflict, the status, influence and infiltration of Iranian forces into Iraq and the true nature of the “sectarian” conflicts that were prevalent through the first national election. This was the most “cloak and dagger” assignment of my entire career.  I moved, lived, slept, broke bread with the Iraqis. Operating mostly alone, miles from any other American, I slept in safe houses scattered around Baghdad and my “home” was a former guard tower left behind by Saddam Hussein’s army.  I was “the guy” working in the Iraqi National Command Center for the Iraqi Police, the National Joint Operations Center with the Iraqi Army and Ministry of Interior forces and lived with the Iraqi 6th Army Division as the primary intelligence trainer and advisor.

Returning home, I was assigned as Executive Officer, 1st Brigade Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division.  We again deployed back to Iraq for my third tour.  In addition to my normal duties, I was placed in charge of the infrastructure, intelligence collection assets, life support, security, construction and all the local and third country contractors for in 2007 in what turned out to be a 15 month tour. For a period of more than 4 months, I was the Camp Manager, Battalion Executive Officer and Battalion Commander in Iraq with over 1700 subordinates, and all as a major. I again never lost a Soldier in combat.  Everyone put in my charge returned home with all their fingers and toes intact after 34 months total time deployed in command positions. Following this I was assigned for some “down time” with a small contingent of Soldiers co-located with a FEMA regional headquarters in Boston in 2008.  By then, I had remarried my current wife, Laurie and had two great kids, Mackenzie and Ethan.

Always a conservative, I was active in the Tea Party since the beginning and attended the very first Tea Party rallies at the Boston Harbor on 15 April 2009. I finally retired from the Army in February 2010 (and I’m still fighting with the Department of Veteran Affairs). I was hired by General Dynamics IT as a Senior Opposing Forces Operational Analyst on Fort Drum, back home with my 10th Mountain Division. (During my last two tours in Iraq, a Brigade Combat Team from the 10th Mountain Division was attached to our Division). I was then offered the position I have now as the Director of Emergency Services for St. Lawrence County, NY.  Here, I am responsible for the training and policies governing 41 fire departments, 28 EMS ambulance squads with over 2000 volunteers and career firefighters and EMTs.  I also have the county’s 911 center and all emergency management planning.

In this position, in my first year working in government, I cut my department’s budget by $129,550.  Working with the local CSEA union, I instituted personnel policies that has saved another $64,000 in overtime pay. I have had a number of personnel issues, but, using common sense approaches, in every single instance, the union was on my side.  In one case, the employee union representatives were witnesses against the employee during an arbitration case.

I’ve been able to consistently work with the democratically controlled legislature to move even controversial resolutions through the Board and have been able to do such things as start a St. Lawrence County Citizen Corps, restructure the County Hazardous Materials Response Team (saving an additional $17,500) and join into three public safety consortiums with our neighboring counties.

I am in the process of purchasing a 131 acre farm in the Town of Dekalb, NY where I plan on raising my kids and riding my horses as time allows.

Career Path:

1991- Team leader- 19th Combat Engineer Battalion, Fort Knox, KY

1994- Platoon Leader – 264th Armor Battalion, Schweinfurt, Germany

1995 – Company Executive Officer – 264th Armor Battalion, Schweinfurt, Germany

1996 – Company Executive Officer – HHC 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany

1999- Battalion Intelligence Staff Officer (S2) – 2-14 Infantry Battalion, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, NY

2001- Plans and Exercises Intelligence Staff Officer – XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, NC

2002 – Commander, Headquarters Company, 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion (TECHINT), Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD

2003- Commander, C Company (Reconnaissance) (TECHINT) 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD

2004- Chief of Intelligence Operations Division Effects, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA

2006 – Executive Officer – 1st Brigade Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA

2008 – Chief of Operations, Defense Coordinating Element Region I (Emergency Management/Crisis Response), Boston, MA

2011: Senior Opposing Forces Operational Analyst, 10th Mountain Division, General Dynamics, Fort Drum

2012-now  Director of Emergency Services, St. Lawrence County, NY

Education and Training:

Bachelor of Science – Business Administration & Management – University of Maryland

Associate of Arts – Liberal Arts – University of Phoenix

Graduate – 200+ hours of Emergency Management, Crisis and Emergency Response training

• FEMA Emergency Management Operations Course

• US Army Defense Support to Civil Authorities Course – Phase I & II

• FEMA National Response Framework

• FEMA Incident Command System

• FEMA Incident Command System for Resources and Initial Action

• FEMA Orientation to Mission Assignments

• FEMA Citizen Emergency Response Team Coordination

Graduate US Army Leadership and Management Training:

• Primary Leadership Development Course – 1991

• Officer Candidate School – 1993

• Armor Officer Basic Course – 1993

• Armor Officer Advance Course – 1997

• Military Intelligence Transition Course – 1998

• Military Intelligence Advance Course – 1999

• Military Intelligence Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Officer Course – 1999

• Combned Arms Service Staff School – 1999

Military Awards and Commendations:

Bronze Star Medal (2)

Meritorious Service Medal (4)

Army Commendation Medal (4)

Army Achievement Medal

Iraq Service Medal (3 with 4 campaign stars)

Global War on Terror Service Medal

Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal

Korea Defense Service Medal

National Defense Service Ribbon (2)

Joint Service Commendation Medal