80th Civil Affairs Battalion
Lieutenant Colonel Benett Sunds
Lieutenant Colonel Benett Sunds grew up in Casey, Iowa attending Adair-Casey Schools. He enlisted in the Iowa Army National Guard in January of 1986 as an 11B, Light Infantryman, in Co C, 1/168th IN in Atlantic, eventually becoming an NCO. He served in various positions in C and B Companies of the 1/168th IN including rifleman, automatic rifleman, anti-armor specialist, fire team leader, squad leader, and platoon leader as an ROTC Cadet. Lt. Col. Sunds graduated from Northwest Missouri State University and was commissioned an Infantry Officer through ROTC in 1992. As an Infantry Lieutenant, he served in 3rd Bn, 5th CAV and 1st Bn, 36th IN in the 1st Armored Division in Germany. His active duty Infantry positions included Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, HHC Executive Officer, and Battalion S4. Lt. Col. Sunds served with these units in the first and second Partnership for Peace Exercises for the NATO expansion and Operations Able Sentry and Joint Endeavor in the Balkans.
Following his Infantry assignments, Lt. Col. Sunds briefly served as a Quartermaster Officer, attending the Combined Logistics Officer Advanced Course, followed by assignment to the 2nd CMMC at Fort Bragg as a Materiel Management Team OIC. While assigned, he served in Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait in 1997. He commanded HHC, 2nd Bn (Advanced SOF Skills), 1st Special Warfare Training Group (A) 1998-2000 as a Captain and in various Special Operations assignments since.
Lt. Col. Sunds was selected for Civil Affairs training as a Special Operations officer in 2000. He completed the qualification course including Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape training, and the regional studies course receiving the geographical orientation identifier for Europe. He was subsequently assigned to the 96TH Civil Affairs Battalion (A) in October 2001. Lt. Col. Sunds’ duty positions as a Captain and Major included: CA Team Leader, Company Operations Officer, Theater Liaison Officer, CA Special Operations Officer, and Commander for Detachment 420. He served in Operation Enduring Freedom I in Pakistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II in Iraq, and the first and second Humanitarian Demining missions in The Republic of Armenia. Lt. Col. Sunds has foreign language training in French and German.
After attendance at the Army Command and General Staff Officers Course, he served in Qatar and Tajikistan as an LNO for the 96th CA BN. Lt. Col. Sunds then served as the BN XO for the 98th CA BN (A) (SOUTHCOM) and the BDE XO for the 95th CA BDE (A) at Ft. Bragg, NC. Lt. Col. Sunds’ latest assignment was with the US Army JFK Special Warfare Center with duty in the National Capital Region, Washington, D.C, and subsequently at Fort Knox, KY working in the Human Resources Command.
His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medals, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medals, Joint Meritorious and Army Superior Unit awards, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medals, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals, GWOT Expedition and Service Medals, Armed Forces Service Medal, NATO Medal, Parachutist Badge, Parachute Rigger Badge, and various Foreign Parachutist and Proficiency Badges. Lt. Col. Sunds has participated in seven named operations in 26 countries and remains a long time member of the American Legion and VFW.
Command Sergeant Major Richard Luna
Battalion Command Sergeant Major
Command Sergeant Major Richard Luna, a native of Florida, graduated from Ft Walton Beach High School in Ft Walton Beach, Florida in 1989 and entered active duty on 15 April 1990 at Fort Benning, Georgia where he completed Basic Training and Advance Individual Training as an Infantryman.
CSM Luna’s enlisted leadership experience and assignments include; A Co 1/75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, GA; C Co 6th Ranger Training Battalion, Eglin AFB, FL; A Co 4/31 Infantry Battalion, Fort Drum, NY; C Co Operations Group Task Force 2, Fort Polk, LA; D Co 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), Fort Bragg, NC; HHC 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) ), Fort Bragg, NC; D Co 98th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) ), Fort Bragg, NC; HHC 81st Civil Affairs Battalion, Fort Hood, TX; HQs 80th Civil Affairs Battalion, Fort Bliss, TX.
CSM Luna has served in every leadership position from rifle team leader to battalion S-3 Sergeant Major. His deployments include Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Currently he serves as the Battalion Command Sergeant Major for the 80th Civil Affairs Battalion, Fort Bliss, TX.
CSM Luna’s military education includes the Warriors Leaders Course (WLC); Advanced Leaders Course (ALC); Senior Leaders Course (SLC); United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA/Class 61); Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP); Airborne; Jumpmaster; Pathfinder; Ranger; SERE; Civil Affairs Qualification Course (CAQC); Special Operations Language Training (SOLT); Marine Corps Civil Military Operations Planners Course; Instructor Training Course (ITC); Tactical Certification Course (TCC); Battle Staff; Dynamics of International Terrorism (DIT); Mobile Force Protection Course (Gryphon Group); Advanced Negotiations (Phoenix Group). He holds a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies from Excelsior College in Albany, NY.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star; Meritorious Service Medal (3rd award); Army Commendation Medal (2nd award); Army Achievement Medal (3rd award); Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Army Good Conduct Medal (6th award); National Defense Service Medal; Armed Forces Expedition Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 4); Army Service Ribbon; NATO Medal; Ranger tab; Master Parachutist’s Badge; Pathfinder Badge; Expert Infantryman’s badge; Combat Infantryman’s badge; Belgium and British Parachutist Badge.