Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston
In December I had the honor to spend some time with sergeant major of the Afghanistan Army, Roshan Safi, at his 6th Semi-Annual Senior Leaders Conference in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Over the past several years I’ve established a close working relationship and friendship with Sgt. Maj. of the Army Roshan and all of his senior corps command sergeants major. This conference, like the previous conferences, allowed SMA Roshan and the Afghanistan chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, to set their priorities for Afghan Soldiers and their units.
The discussion allowed the senior CSMs to openly dialog with the senior Army leadership on a variety of new initiatives for this new and fledgling Army. I am a proud participant of almost all of their conferences, giving me a unique perspective on the progress of building an Army, building an NCO education system and formalizing a senior NCO selection process.
All of this progress is directly attributed to a small number of sergeants major and noncommissioned officers imbedded within the organizations and the schoolhouse guiding and demonstrating "what right looks like" as this young Army continues to grow and develop.
I spent the Thanksgiving holiday period in the Horn of Africa visiting Djibouti, Ethiopia and then Kuwait. While in the city of Dira Dalwa, I watched civil affairs Soldiers led by our noncommissioned officers working to build schools, houses, and establish water points for the people to draw potable water.
I watched an Army veterinarian run a two-week training course to develop veterinarian assistants to serve in dozens of villages across the country. With a limited number of veterinarians living in Ethiopia, these veterinarian assistants serve to teach animal wellness and conduct health inspections of the livestock to promote care and safety for the animals and residents.
In both of these stories, it is the NCO Corps of our great Army that continues to make significant impacts on nations and armies around the world.
Since the Revolutionary War, noncommissioned officers have defined professionalism and set the standards for all aspects of our daily operations. Since Baron von Steuben’s "Blue Book," the basic responsibilities of the NCO have remained the same; accomplishment of the mission and the welfare of their Soldiers remain steadfast.
But, as we see today around the world, the importance of these basic responsibilities continues to grow. Because of the significant roles now executed by our NCOs and Soldiers, it is critical to ensure we protect the quality of the force developed over the past eight years of war.
The Association of the United States Army plays a significant role in taking care of our Soldiers, Civilians and their Families by serving as a very loud voice for the essential needs and benefits to preserve the all-volunteer force.
From speaking out on behalf of the Soldier, Civilian and their Families on Capitol Hill to educating senior civilian leaders across the country on the needs of our force. AUSA teams of dedicated professionals at the national level and local chapters serve to keep our force united as a voice of thousands.
For 60 years, AUSA continues to support America’s Army at our posts, camps and stations around the world.
I extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to AUSA for their service and dedication in supporting our Army and our Soldiers, Civilians and their Families as they serve to protect freedom’s frontier.