At a press conference Jan. 5 held during the Nominative Command Sergeant Major Conference at Fort Bliss, Texas, Geren, who was accompanied by Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee; the Army chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr.; and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, kicked off the year-long focus on NCOs by saying, “With our effort – the Year of the NCO – we have many things to accomplish. One is to recognize the contributions that our NCOs make – past and present.”
Adding at the media event at the Sergeants Major Academy, “We want to inform the country, inform the Congress, and also inform young people about what NCOs do for our Army, and help them better understand what an exciting opportunity and a career the choice of being an NCO in the United States Army is.”
Geren, Casey and Preston released a letter they signed announcing a set of initiatives designed to focus on better developing the Army’s Noncommissioned Officer Corps – to include programs that will be instituted to improve NCO’s professional development.
The letter ended: “NCOs are the keepers of our standards. From the recruiting station to basic training to combat zones; civil affairs to medicine to logistics; natural disaster assistance to graveside attendance at Arlington; whether active, guard or reserve, our NCOs take the lead.”
Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., the Association’s president, said at national headquarters, “AUSA – the Army’s professional association with over 110,000 members worldwide -- congratulates the Army on designating 2009 as the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer.
“Since the Army was formed on June 14, 1775, noncommissioned officers have served our nation in times of war and peace with distinction, professionalism, courage and dedication – oftentimes paying the supreme sacrifice.
“NCOs in all components – active, National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve – are recognized around the world as the best and most respected and admired military professionals who have been and remain ‘the backbone of our Army’ in accomplishing the mission.
“AUSA, at the national, regional and chapter levels, will make every effort to support the Army in its goal to improve the lot of these outstanding men and women warriors, and to tell ‘The NCO Story.’
At the press conference, Casey said, “We’re taking this year and making it the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer, so we can recognize their courage, their commitment, their competence and their contribution to this war [on terrorism].”
Adding, the Army will concentrate on areas such as NCO education, fitness and leadership -- and to foster pride in the service among NCOs and let the American public know that the NCO Corps is a “national asset.”
“There is no doubt in my mind,” Casey said, “that our Noncommissioned Officer Corps is the glue that holds this Army together and allows us to accomplish the impossible.”
On a newly-established home page – www4.army.mil/yearofthenco/home.php – Preston said, “Our NCO Corps is unrivaled by any Army in the world, envied by our allies and feared by our enemies.”
Adding, “Throughout the Army’s history, the NCO has been a pivotal figure, but never more than today with our full spectrum of operations – tank-on-tank fighting as during the invasion of Iraq; the guerilla/insurgency war ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan; and peacekeeping operations in Kosovo.”