First, let me thank each of you who work tirelessly, representing our Soldiers, Civilians, and Families on Capitol Hill and educating senior civilian leaders about the needs of the force.
The Association of the United States Army continues to play a huge role, lobbying for the equipment, pay, and benefits that help us maintain our place as the best Army in the world. For over 60 years, you have supported America’s Army, and for that I extend my thanks and appreciation.
This month marks my first year as the Sergeant Major of the Army, and I can say without a doubt, I’m proud to be associated with those who fight and win our Nation’s wars.
I’ve visited almost every major post, camp, and station around the globe, and am truly amazed at what our Soldiers and Families accomplish every day. During one trip to Afghanistan, I received an operations and intelligence brief by a legal clerk. I gave coins to cooks who just returned from a dismounted patrol.
In Djibouti, I talked to a National Guard Soldier who lost almost 70 pounds during his deployment. I met a veterinary technician who was on her first deployment after pleading for years to serve her country downrange.
These are the types of Soldiers we have in the Army. These are our Nation’s top one percent.
Over the next few years, our Army will continue to adapt and conform to the needs of the future. This year, we will begin drawing down the Army. But as I tell the Soldiers and their Families during town halls, if you’re doing the right thing, you will generally have a place in this Army.
Right now, we are meeting our drawdown goals by accessing less Soldiers, lowering the retention control points for sergeants and staff sergeants, using qualitative management program (QMP) boards to weed out retirement eligible senior NCOs who have reached their potential, and retaining less Soldiers.
I have two major priorities this year: refocusing on leader development and the professional Soldier.
As part of these two priorities are numerous lines of effort that you’ll see come out this year. We are revising AR 670-1 (Wear and Appearance of the Uniform) and AR 600-9 (Army Weight Control Program) to maintain our professional image.
We are revising the way we do our NCOERs and creating a Sergeants Major Management Office to help us with leader development. We’re introducing more structured self development and changing the Noncommissioned Officer Education System. We’re also looking to modify and change some of the uniforms and equipment we wear. I’m dedicated to ensuring our NCOs have the knowledge and power to be that standard bearer we continually ask them to be and I’m truly excited about these upcoming changes for our NCO Corps.
Finally, let me talk a little more about the Professional Soldier.
We as an Army have not done a very good job talking about the profession. As I talk to Soldiers, I realize that many of them don’t even know what it means to be a professional. To me, it’s a failure of our NCO leadership to get the word out about the Army Profession.
The Army Professional Soldier is an expert, a volunteer certified in the Profession of Arms, bonded with comrades in a shared identity and culture of sacrifice and service to the Nation and the Constitution, who adheres to the highest ethical standards and is a steward of the future of the profession.
To be a professional, there first needs to be trust. The American people trust our Soldiers to get the mission accomplished when they send them in harm’s way. Soldiers in turn trust the American people and its elected officials to allow us the means to accomplish our missions.
I think Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, said it best: "Trust is the bedrock of our honored profession – trust between each other, trust between Soldiers and Leaders, trust between Soldiers and their Families and the Army, and trust with the American people."
I often tell Soldiers that to be a professional, you need the three Cs: Competence, Character and Commitment. Competence means you do your job well. This competence means our Soldiers lead by example, counsel and mentor, and is a tactical and technical expert.
Next, moral character, meaning Soldiers put the Army before themselves and finally, committed to the Army Profession.
Our Soldiers live the Army Values and believe in the standards they are upholding.
Again, I truly appreciate AUSA’s commitment to the 1.1 million Soldiers, their Families and our Department of the Army Civilians.
I have seen firsthand the important role AUSA plays makes on behalf of our military every day.
Thanks and Army Strong!
Raymond F. Chandler III
Sgt. Maj. of the Army