Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston
Today, the American Soldier brings unmatched skills far beyond their occupational specialty while defending our Nation and our Allies. Most important, Soldiers display an attitude that freedom is not free, and they live and demonstrate around the world, the values they have learned from their Family growing up in this country. Americans are known as the most giving society in the world and our Soldiers are our ambassadors.
Right now we have approximately 230,000 Soldiers forward deployed or stationed in nearly 80 countries around the world. In this era of persistent conflict, it is no secret we are a little busy and likely to stay busy for the foreseeable future.
About 110,000 of our deployed Soldiers are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and the Horn of Africa in support of ongoing operations. Our Warriors continue to do a magnificent job every day taking the fight to the enemy; to helping grow and develop the security forces for many failed or failing states; to providing humanitarian relief and support in the aftermath of several crises ongoing around the world.
I travel extensively throughout the year, visiting thousands of Soldiers and their Families at posts, camps, and stations around the globe. During Soldier and Family forums, I hear the concerns and issues that challenge our Army. Concerns about basic pay and retirement benefits, Soldier barracks and Family housing, and TRICARE coverage and military funding. The Association of the United States Army takes these real world concerns and issues to become our advocate and spokesmen. AUSA plays a significant role in taking care of our Soldiers, Families and Civilians by speaking with a loud voice on these issues and many more; all to preserve and enhance our All-Volunteer Force.
AUSA is the Army’s professional organization. Serving as a Soldier today has further evolved to become a profession, just as a doctor or a lawyer is part of a larger profession who are members of the American Medical Association or American Bar Association. Soldiering is our profession and AUSA is our professional organization. Over the last seven years, I’ve gained a deep appreciation for AUSA’s support in helping members of Congress fully understand the needs of our Soldiers. AUSA’s efforts have helped in the accomplishment of our missions and helped provide the needed support to our Families who wait patiently for their Soldiers to return home.
So, I want to thank AUSA for their service and dedication in supporting our Army, and the millions of Soldiers, Civilians and their Families who protect our Nation and our way of life. Army Strong!