News
Opinion
Sports
Business
Community
entertainment
Schools
News
Announcements
Classifieds
Place Ad
Advertising
Contact Us
Archives
Search

Farragut businessman prepares for Iraq
Fate of business a major concern for Middle East bound member of Tennessee’s 278th ACR


Capt. Mark Paul poses with his wife, Lisa, and two children, Gavrik, left, and Caelan, in 2002.- Photo Submitted
Tennessee’s largest Army National Guard unit has been identified for possible mobilization in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett announced Tuesday, March 2.

Local Farragut businessman Mark Paul was one of many who received notification of the possible mobilization.

Paul, a captain in the 5,000-man 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment headquartered in Knoxville, said he received his notification Sunday, Feb. 29.


“I’m ready, able and willing to go and do my part for the country,” Paul said. “I think what we’re doing over there is worthwhile. So, I’m proud to do my part. It’s a good thing to do. I don’t feel bad about doing my part. I’m actually pretty eager to go and do my part.”

But Paul, a self-employed owner/operator, has concerns about the fate of the business he has spent some 10 years building.

“It’s going to hurt it,” Paul said about being away from his business for anywhere from 12 to 18 months. “I’m an owner/operator. I’m self-employed. When I’m not doing it; then there’s no one taking my place, really.

“My wife is going to try and keep things ticking, but she’s not going to be able to grow it or keep it sustained at where it’s at. She’s going to be able to keep it going, but she has other things going on.”

Paul and his wife, Lisa, own and operate a Shaklee franchise from their home in Farragut. The business sells nutrition, weight management, personal care, BestWater, home care and air purification products by telephone or via the company’s Web site at www.shaklee.net/healthnut.

“Lisa is not really just a housewife,” Paul said. “She works in the business ten to twenty hours a week. She’ll have even less time after I leave after she picks up all the slack that I’m leaving. She’ll have to cut the grass, take out the trash, wash the dishes, take care of the house like I do.”

Along with raising the couples’ two children, son Gavrik, 2, and daughter Caelan, 4, Paul’s wife will also have to become accustomed to being a single parent for all intents and purposes.

“I’m sad about leaving my family for so long,” Paul said. “My kids are small, so it will have a big impact on them. There is a good chance when I come back my son won’t even remember me very well. That’s kind of bad.”

Paul added that the military allows telephone calls, letters and e-mails to family, but that’s not the same as being home with his family.

“A lot of us sacrifice a lot of time away from our family,” he said, “and not only risk ourselves going over there, a third way we sacrifice is financially. It’s kind of a physical sacrifice, a financial sacrifice and an emotional sacrifice. A lot of people don’t realize that. There are a lot of people over there right now, and a lot of them are in the same boat.”

Paul added that there are a lot of people who are successful business people who get called up, their income goes to half of what it used to be and when they come back all of their customers have switched to somebody else who isn’t quite as patriotic.

“My business of course will be shot,” he said. “When I get off military orders and they stop paying me, then my income from my business will be lower than it was when I left. So, I’ll be in big trouble. We’ll have to do something very quickly. Especially since when I go away my income is going to drop. The military won’t pay me what I’m making now. It’s going to be a bit of a trick.”

Paul said that he and his wife have discussed the possibility of hiring someone to help her operate the business in his absence.

“We are working on taking on an intern,” he said. “I was just talking to somebody today. The thing is it takes a lot of training to get them to do a job like you can. And then, if it’s not really their business, they never really look after it like you do. And then you have to pay them too. It’s a lot harder than it seems to have someone fill in for you. Finding good help is always a trick. Then there’s always the question at the end of what do you do with this guy? When you get back, what are you supposed to do with this person? We’re working on a plan to keep it going, but even with that I don’t think it’s going to stay where it’s at.”

Police, fire departments and emergency crews will also be hard hit by the call up of the 278th. But, as Paul said, these guys will have a job to go back to, the owner/operators in many cases won’t unless their customers remain loyal.

“Just stay loyal,” Paul said, “and not switch to some brand that’s made in Japan, or from New York City. Just stay with the local guys.”

Paul, a naturalized American citizen, was born in Zimbabwe, Africa, has served in the U.S. Armed Forces for 17 years, both as active U.S. Army and National Guard. The bottom line is clear to him despite his uncertain financial future.

“I’m strongly in favor of the troops. I don’t make comment on politicians, especially the president, since he is my commander and chief. Pretty much, I’ll do what he says. It will come down through the chain of command and I’ll just do what I’m told. I expect the people under me to do what they’re told. My mission is to do what I’m told. In truth, I’m a soldier not a politician,” he said.

The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment is the only enhanced armored cavalry regiment within the National Guard, and one of only two ACRs in the U.S. Army. It is headquartered in Knoxville with units throughout the East and Middle Tennessee area.

The three cavalry troops of each squadron are each equipped with nine M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, 13 M3A2 Bradley fighting vehicles, and two 120mm mortar carriers. The howitzer battery is equipped with six of the 155mm M109 SP howitzers. The tank company is equipped with 14 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks. Rounding out this combat power are two more M3A2 Bradley fighting vehicles for the squadron commander and his S-3.

An ACR is organized for the specific purposes of reconnaissance, surveillance and security. Depending on the factors of mission, enemy, terrain, troops available, time and weather, a Cavalry unit may be given one mission or several simultaneous missions. Cavalry’s firepower, mobility and shock effect make it one of the Army’s most flexible organizations.

Cavalry may be deployed to any part of the world to protect national interest and to ensure national security. Potential adversaries range from highly sophisticated forces, thoroughly modern mechanized forces, to lighter, less modern forces. On the battlefield, the Cavalry Commander will use the concept of maneuver to swiftly position his combat forces to attack enemy vulnerabilities, and exploit his weaknesses. High maneuverability has historically made the Cavalry a decisive factor on the battlefield and ensures its importance as the “eyes and ears” of the United States Army.

As a part of the Tennessee Army National Guard, the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment serves a dual purpose. Under state command, the regiment may be used to quell civil disturbances and to provide assistance and support during natural disasters. As a result, the regiment must train to meet both federal and state training requirements.

Hargett said, “While the unit is not currently ordered to mobilize, they are conducting sensible planning and making preparations in the event we are called. We are trained, ready and committed to do whatever the mission.”

  News | Opinion | Sports | Business | Community | Schools | Obituaries | Announcements
Classifieds | Place Ad | Advertising | Subscribe | Contact Us | Archives | Search

© 2004 farragutpress