Sgt. Maj. of the Army
Kenneth O. Preston, USA, Ret.
Director, Noncommissioned Officer
and Soldier Programs
Greetings from the Association of the United States Army – our Army’s and our soldiers’ professional organization.
Special thanks to AUSA’s Braxton Bragg Chapter at Fort Bragg, N. C.
This great Association chapter hosted me along with representatives from command for a visit, June 27-28, where I had the opportunity to have breakfast with the post’s senior leadership, current and past, and talk about the challenges facing our soldiers, families and our Army.
I thank Sharon Lewis, our dynamic chapter president, for her hospitality and especially for her continued dedication and commitment to soldiers and their families.
I met Sharon many years ago at Fort Bragg when she was volunteering to man a table at an AUSA-sponsored reception.
Today, Sharon, as the chapter president, continues volunteering and giving back to soldiers, their families and the command teams of officer and noncommissioned leaders at the installation level down to all the companies, troops and batteries.
Her volunteer efforts coupled with the continued service of Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew McFowler, USA, Ret., and Command Sgt. Maj. Steve England, USA, Ret. – both legends in the airborne community – epitomize the mission of AUSA as "The Voice for the Army and Support for the Soldier."
Across the Army, we would not be able to do all the things we do for soldiers and their families without these devoted and energetic AUSA volunteers.
Their volunteer efforts are their way of serving our nation, our Army, our soldiers and our Army families.
Welcome them into your units, and experience what they can do for you as a force mulitiplier.
This breakfast gave me the opportunity to talk about the Army in transition – following 11 years of war – from a historical perspective, and specifically compare our Army today with the Army in the aftermath of WWII.
While the Army of the late 1940s was totally changed from the Army of today, the reduced budget, the drawdown of forces, the casing of unit colors and the impacts on promotions, assignments, and quality of life are very similar.
The fear of consequences unknown and yet to come, floats as a dark cloud on the horizon.
Some of you remember the saying: "No more Task Force Smiths."
AUSA’s mission is to support the Army leadership and Army leaders across the force as the voice for the Army and support for soldiers through recognition, education, and professional development. There is strength in numbers and numbers give AUSA a loud voice.
Leaving Fort Bragg after a very successful visit, I went to Fort Jackson, S.C., and participated in the Army’s announcement and recognition ceremony honoring the 2013 Drill Sergeants of the Year.
This year there were six competitors; four from the active component and two from the reserve component, representing military installations and commands responsible for basic combat training.
The competition was compressed into a three-day period to challenge, identify and select the best active and reserve component drill sergeants in the Army.
The host for the ceremony was Command Sgt. Maj. John R. Calpena, the command sergeant major for the Initial Military Training Center of Excellence at Fort Eustis, Va.
Participating were Command Sgt. Maj. Michael S. McCoy, commandant, United States Army Drill Sergeant School, and Sgt. Maj. Blaine J. Huston, the deputy commandant.
The active component drill sergeant of the year is Sgt. 1st Class David E. Stover from Fort Jackson.
Stover hails from Richmond, Va., and has served in the Army for eight years, with two deployments to Iraq.
Stover said, "It’s not about the trophy for me, it’s about making a difference in how we train soldiers."
Adding, "It’s a chance to be the voice of drill sergeants to the Army."
Additionally, Stover received the First Sergeant Tobias Meister Award for achieving the highest Army Physical Fitness Test score during the competition.
The reserve component drill sergeant of the year is Sgt. 1st Class Ryan J. McCaffrey representing Fort Benning, Ga., and the 98th Reserve Division.
McCaffrey is from Honolulu, Hawaii, and has served in the Army for 15 years, with a deployment to Afghanistan.
Drill sergeants of the year move to Fort Eustis to serve as subject matter experts and advisers to the Training and Doctrine Command commander, Gen. Robert W. Cone.
During the competition, the drill sergeants were graded on approximately 60 different tasks, drills and tests.
These evaluated subjects included everything from teaching a soldier basic drill, to teaching a soldier physical readiness training techniques, to instructing a squad how to clear a building in an urban environment.
Stover will receive the Stephen Ailes Award, named after the secretary of the Army from 1964-1965, who was instrumental in originating the first Drill Sergeant School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
McCaffrey will receive the Ralph E. Haines Jr. Award, named after the Continental Army Commander (predecessor to TRADOC) from 1970-1973, who was instrumental in molding the training mission of the Army Reserve.
Both the Ailes and Haines awards will be presented by the Army chief of staff, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Luncheon during the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.
We are now about three months or less from the 29th Annual Army Ten-Miler race to be held on Sunday, Oct. 20. Are you ready?
Then join our Army participants at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center from Oct. 21-23 for three days of professional development forums and broadening experiences like no other.
This all happens at the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition.
Still Serving – Still Saluting!