The Army’s 14th sergeant major of the Army was sworn in during a March 1 standing-room-only ceremony in the Pentagon.
Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond F. Chandler III, a 30-year veteran, was administered the oath of office by Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
Following the arrival of the official party, Casey welcomed the newest SMA, his wife Jeanne and their six children to the nation’s capital. Casey told the audience it was a "great day to be a sergeant" – which brought on a rousing "Hooah" from those assembled.
"As I looked at trying to figure out who the next sergeant major of the Army ought to be, it was a very difficult task because frankly we have an Army that is replete with talent in our Noncommissioned Officer Corps, and nowhere is it more pronounced than among our sergeants major," Casey said.
Casey outlined Chandler’s career, highlighting his last position, where he was the first enlisted soldier to serve as commandant of the Sergeants Major Academy. Chandler had previously served as the academy’s command sergeant major.
Casey said what impressed him most about Chandler’s career was the series of assignments that demonstrated such a range of experience in a senior enlisted leader.
"As I looked at what he’d done, it struck me that I hadn’t seen this much versatility in very many noncommissioned officers," Casey said, noting his experience in both armor and Javelin units throughout the world. He also noted his service as a command sergeant major during combat in Iraq.
"He brings a great wealth of talent to this position, from the operational side, the installation side, the institutional side and the reserve component side," Casey said. "He has a deep understanding of what it means to be a citizen soldier, and I think he’ll bring that to bear here as we go forward trying to operationalize the guard and reserve."
Chandler served a three-year tour as an active duty advisor to the 155th Armored Brigade, Mississippi National Guard, in Tupelo, Miss.
Casey also offered advice to Chandler: "Be a role model for every soldier. Be a mentor for every sergeant, and be a hard-nosed adviser to the secretary and me."
Following administration of the oath, Chandler took the podium, thanking first his family, friends and senior leaders along with those who had guided him through his career.
"I am humbled," Chandler said of his selection. "Many of you I have served with, and I am a product of your leadership. I’m here because you saw faith in me and counseled me and coached me and helped me develop into being a professional as part of this profession of arms.
"Each of you has upped my life or another noncommissioned officer’s life in some way which has taken us to this place where our Army is today – we have the best Army that our nation has ever fielded, there’s no doubt about it," Chandler said.
Adding, "But our Army is also tired, and we have many more miles to travel, so all of us as a family need to look out for one another and to wrap our hands around those Soldiers and families who have borne the burden of these many years.
"As the Army’s sergeant major, I will serve as a scout and conduct reconnaissance with the chief and provide him with information that he can turn into intelligence with the secretary and make informed decisions for our families and soldiers so that we can best serve our nation.
"I will do my best. I ask each and every one of you to support every single soldier and family that goes in harm’s way, those who are recovering from their wounds and to look out for and put your arms around those individuals. We can be a very empathetic organization and we need some empathy for our folks."
Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., president of the Association of the United States Army said, "The Army has selected an outstanding noncommissioned officer to become the sergeant major of the Army. Command Sergeant Major Chandler has, throughout his distinguished military career, served his nation, his Army and the NCO Corps as a warrior, leader, trainer, educator and mentor."
Adding, "He will be an effective and eloquent spokesman as he represents our noncommissioned officers, our soldiers and their families on Capitol Hill, and with the civilian and military leadership of America’s Army during these challenging and demanding times."
Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmie W. Spencer, USA, Ret., director of AUSA’s noncommissioned officer and soldiers programs, said, "The selection of Command Sergeant Major Raymond Chandler to be the 14th sergeant major of the Army is great news on two levels.
"First, he is the right person at the right time for the Army NCO Corps. As the first noncommissioned officer selected to be the commandant of the Sergeants Major Academy, he has played an important leadership role in the transformation of how we train and educate today’s NCOs.
"Secondly and on a more personal note, he is a long time supporter of the Army’s professional association: the Association of the United States Army. And, I consider him a friend. We are lucky to have him."
(Editor’s note: Army News Service covered the swearing in portion of this article.)