by Olivia Tattory
Soldiers in action have just three main jobs, according to an old Army saying: move, shoot and communicate.
Col. Roger E. Carey helps take care of the third part.
A specialist in communication technology who has risen to the top ranks of the U.S. military in Europe, Carey, a 1980 Rider graduate, is responsible for daily operations of communication support.
When asked to reflect on his time served, Carey said the last three decades have been more than a job.
“It has always been, and I’m sure will always be, an adventure,” said Carey. “Never a job. It surely doesn’t fit the standard 9 to 5 hours of a job anyway.”
Not only has he commanded soldiers in support of restoring the Pentagon’s communication networks after the 9/11 attacks and for some of the first large-scale force engagements in Afghanistan, but he has also worked directly under President Bill Clinton as a Presidential Communications Officer while assigned to the White House Communications Agency from 1996 to 2000.
Currently, Carey is stationed in Patch Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany, on a staff assignment on the U.S. European Command J6 staff where he is responsible for daily operations of communications support for United States European Command operations in 92 countries throughout Europe and Africa. A legion of contractors, 27 officers and 24 civilians are assigned under him.
Carey vividly remembers his four years at Rider, especially his time in the Fine Arts building.
While attributing much of his success to the lessons learned in the Department of Communication, Carey said his work in the classroom was easily translated into the “real world.”
“The Communication Department was pretty small but extremely student-oriented,” he said. “[Professors] taught us not only to apply yourself to your academics but also to real life. They would say, ‘We are teaching you this here, but this is how you can apply there.’”
According to Dr. Frederick Turner, professor of communication, Carey was a standout student with loads of ambition.
“I’m incredibly proud of him,” said Turner. “[Carey] was very focused as an undergraduate. He knew exactly what he wanted and went after it. He was and still is a joy to deal with. We’ve stayed in touch and he is one of the people I’m very proud of.”
After learning early on that you have to earn everything you get, Carey graduated ready to jump into a position with IBM in the Princeton area. Two years into it, he decided it was time for a change of scenery, out of New Jersey to be exact, and looked into transferring to Texas. With no luck of transferring through IBM, Carey looked into the Army, as he’d been in ROTC at Rider and was active in the reserves.
While initially only looking for a quick two- or three-year Army stint somewhere in Texas, it turned out to be much, much more.
Carey has been working in the telecommunication arena since starting his Army career.
Having trained at the tactical, operational and strategic levels to support national policy through the military equation of Diplomacy, Information, Military and Economic (DIME), Carey considers himself first a soldier in the U.S. military and then as a senior leader.
“Better leaders are those who can communicate to soldiers to the fullest,” he said. “Those who can best communicate and be better listeners as well.”
As Carey has had to learn to adjust throughout his career and learn how to perform his job at progressive levels of responsibility, he has also had to continue his education. Every three to five years soldiers are required to attend a professional development school, which can last anywhere from three months to a year, said Carey.
In his 26 years with the Army, Carey has attained a level four military education, including two master’s degrees, one in public administration from Central Michigan University and the other for national security strategy from the National War College of National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
Carey’s future plans include serving his country for a few more years and then traveling around the U.S. and South America.
However, at the end of the day the real adventure is in his work. Being a part of history, of something that will never go away, is what got Carey hooked and what keeps him going to this day.
“You feel validated through what you do,” he said. “It’s a big payoff that you are making a real difference.”