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Agent Finds Similarities Between Title Industry, Military

By Frank J. McGovern

In October 2022, I was ordered to trade my title hat for my Army hat as my Pennsylvania National Guard unit was notified for federal overseas duty. We mobilized at Fort Hood, Texas, before arriving at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, for our tour of duty as part of Operation Spartan Shield (OSS).


Mcgovern kuwait
Col. Frank McGovern presents Al-Shammari with a plaque.

OSS is a USCENTCOM (United States Central Command) operation in the Middle East. OSS is commanded by United States Army Central Command and includes units from all service branches. Task Force Spartan is the U.S. Army Command component (ARCENT) of OSS.

The 28th Infantry Division, from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the great responsibility to lead Task Force Spartan (TFS) which is a unique, multi-component organization, made up of active Army and National Guard units, rounded out by U.S. Army Reserve support units.  I serve as the Staff Judge Advocate (General Counsel) for TFS which has personnel spread across eight different countries in the region.

Through OSS, Task Force Spartan maintains a U.S. military posture in Southwest Asia sufficient to strengthen our defense relationships and build partner capacity to enable peace and stability in the region.

Units supporting OSS provide capabilities such as aviation, logistics, force protection and information management, and facilitate theater security cooperation activities such as key leader engagements, joint exercises, conferences, symposia and humanitarian assistance/disaster response planning.

The United States places importance on its decades-long strategic partnerships in the Middle East region, affirms our enduring commitment to the security and territorial defense of U.S. partners, and recognizes the region’s increasingly important role as a trade and technology crossroads between hemispheres, according to a White House fact sheet.

Moreover, the United States is committed to accelerating ongoing work with its allies and partners in the Middle East to integrate and enhance security cooperation. In particular, the United States is committed to advancing a more integrated and regionally networked air and missile defense architecture and countering the proliferation of unmanned aerial systems and missiles to non-state actors that threaten the peace and security of the region.[1]

The U.S. has reaffirmed its commitment to preserving the free flow of commerce through strategic international waterways like the Bab al-Mandab and the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world’s energy passes every day, via multiple joint naval task forces, in partnership with longstanding U.S. partners integrated through U.S. Central Command.

The U.S. does crucial work together with our friends in this region—to deter aggression from any quarter, to disrupt terrorist networks, and to maintain freedom of navigation in some of the world’s most important waterways.

Our network of allies and partners in the Middle East and beyond is a huge force multiplier and strategic advantage.

Similarities to Title Insurance Industry

Personally, I find commonality in the big picture things of what we are doing over here with what we do in the title insurance industry—innovation, partnerships, legal symposiums for CLE/CE and training, to name a few.

Frank McGovern, a TIPAC state leader and vice chair of ALTA’s Congressional Liaison Committee, attended a fundraiser and presented U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) a $1,000 check on behalf of ALTA.

Regarding innovation, we are always trying to improve upon our processes in the title insurance industry. How can we better serve our clients? How can we more efficiently streamline our product and services. How can we leverage new technologies to improve our services? Think remote work, remote notarization, e-recordings and artificial intelligence. To help with those serving overseas in the military, ALTA-supported Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act was reintroduced in the Senate. The bipartisan bill, SB1212, would enable use of RON technology by notaries public in interstate commerce and allow signers located outside of the U.S.—such as active-duty military personnel—as well as the elderly and homebuyers with disabilities to securely notarize documents. A companion bill has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the Middle East, the U.S. also must rely more on innovation to secure the region with more pressing threats in Eastern Europe (Russia) and the Indo-Pacific region (China). The military must make do with fewer resources in the Middle East—which is probably why the National Guard and Reserves make up most of the forces in this theater.

The National Security Strategy identifies China as the top U.S. competitor and “pacing challenge,” with Russia and North Korea not far behind. However, we still must keep our eye on Iran.

There is a lot of partnership and collaboration occurring in the region. There are exercises that units in our Division Task Force are leading in the CENTCOM area of operations involving various warfighting functions such as artillery, air defense, intelligence, civil affairs and infantry. They have cool names such as Juniper Oak, Juniper Falcon, Brightstar, Steel Rainer, Arabian Gulf Gunnery, Desert Hunter, Blade Fold Exercise, Iron Union, Dragon Defender and Saif Strike. Unfortunately, legal symposiums do not receive the cool names unless we are nested with a larger exercise. 

Policymakers and the Pentagon are wrestling with how they can shape the region over the long haul.  There is no NATO in the Middle East. The U.S. wants to be the partner of choice (and I believe we are) of the various countries in the region. Make no mistake that China and Russia have some influence in the region. The countries have a choice as to who they work with likewise as with title agents. Title underwriters, such as the company I work for—Title Resources Guaranty Co. (TRG)—aim to be the partner of choice for agents just like the U.S. wants to be the partner of choice in the Middle East. Granted, it may be easier to get a foot in the door when you are the U.S. However, we must work to keep it that way. The same is true with TRG. We want to get a foot in the door with potential clients. Once an agent works with us, we want to show the agent why they will want to continue to work with us. Moreover, for existing agents we strive to maintain the great relationships we have by showing that we are a steady and reliable partner much like the U.S. aims to do here in the Middle East.

To that end, we as a legal team have well established relationships with some countries where we have regular legal symposiums/exchanges and we seek to build/improve our shared understanding of particular issues and other countries where we seek to build those relationships. My experiences organizing Realtor and title agent CLE/CE has helped me greatly over here. However, in the U.S., we do not need to have slides translated, interpreters lined up and other logistical challenges, but we get it all done and accomplish the mission.

Training our internal legal team is also important because one cannot be in the military forever, you age out generally before you do as a civilian. Hence, I am tasked with ensuring that the team learn and develop in their own individual skill set to build the bench for the future. Jack Welch, former CEO of GE once said: "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others." Who knows when and where the next dustup will arise, but the US must be ready. Similarly, the title insurance industry must continually look for and develop talent through good times and bad, agents/Underwriters/vendors need to maintain the right balance between senior and junior levels of experience to ensure that the right mix exists to weather any storm. The title industry is discussing ways to attract and retain talent, as is the military. Having a message that attracts the right people and then retaining them after they are trained is of utmost importance in both the military and the title industry.

Some of the team in Kuwait.


Kuwait and many of the oil rich countries in the region such as Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have a vast social welfare system for their citizens. For example, in Kuwait citizens are granted free plots of land, housing grants to build houses and free education through university. Water, electricity and fuel costs are subsidized. There is life-long medical care, guaranteed employment and no taxes. However, the total population in Kuwait includes 70% that are non-citizens and they do not enjoy the same benefits.

Kuwait and most of the oil-rich countries in the Middle East are working to diversify their economies away from relying on oil revenues as the U.S. and Western world try to move away from oil and fossil fuels. They are encouraging their citizens to obtain jobs in the private sector because the oil revenues may not always be there in the future. However, for the time being, there are still many countries in the world that are willing to step in and purchase the oil that the West bought, if and when, we decrease our reliance on their oil. Hence, there are opportunities for countries that are not aligned with the U.S. view of the world to step in and gain the influence that the US has had in the Middle East during our lifetime. Thus, it is important to maintain our friendships and partners in the region.

Finally, I am most appreciative for the support that the TRG leadership, industry colleagues and agents have shown me during my time away. I know that there are still businesses to run and time away is a sacrifice for all involved. I look forward to working with all my title friends again in the not-too-distant future.

Frank J. McGovern, Northeast Regional counsel for Title Resources Guaranty Co., is a colonel in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and currently is deployed to the Middle East. He can be reached at [email protected].

[1] 11Aug2022 TopLine Messages for USARCENT AO


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