Sergeant Major of the Army
Kenneth O. Preston
Director, Noncommissioned Officer
and Soldier Programs
Greetings from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), our Army’s and our soldiers’ professional organization.
Thanks to AUSA’s Virginia Colonial Chapter for sponsoring my visit with the leaders, soldiers, Army civilians and families of Fort Eustis and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) in January.
Sarah Sattelberg, the chapter president, and the chapter leaders did a magnificent job working closely with the senior military leadership to build an itinerary that kept me very busy.
I was honored to have the opportunity to join the leadership and noncommissioned officers of the 10th Transportation Battalion and the 359th Transportation Company on the very cold morning for a 4-mile run.
The 359th Transportation Company had just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.
Speaking with soldiers in a hanger at the end of the run, I told them how proud all of us at the Association are of their service and their contributions to our nation’s mission in Afghanistan.
Command Sgt. Maj. John Calpena, Initial Military Training Command (IMTC), and Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Woods, the incoming IMTC command sergeant major, hosted me for a visit to the command.
Sergeant Major Jose Velazquez, the Public Affairs sergeant major for TRADOC, served as my escort for the entire trip and was instrumental in the overall success of the visit.
I had the opportunity to speak at several professional development forums that first included senior leaders, a second forum of mid-grade noncommissioned officers and a third venue with junior team leaders just getting their arms around their first leadership assignment.
In all these opportunities, I had the chance to talk about our Army’s force structure historically over time starting with WW I and moving forward in time to present day.
I discussed the transition periods that have historically followed every major war we have fought, and I also addressed readiness and the first battles for America’s Army as we transition back into a wartime posture.
Most of the questions and concerns asked by soldiers and leaders’ related to the downsizing of the Army and the impacts on many small occupational career fields.
Senior leaders were looking for ways to keep their best soldiers competitive for promotion and key assignment opportunities, while junior leaders were looking for ways they and their soldiers could stand out among their peers.
The highlight of the visit was spending time with Sgt. 1st Class Mike Vanesse and his crew aboard their tug boat at 3rd Port.
What amazed me the most was two facts; first, Vanesse is only one of two sergeants first class in the Army to command a ship.
Second, each member of the crew explained their roles and responsibilities in comparison with sailors on a Navy ship, and demonstrated the cross-training and additional duties they perform above and beyond their sister service counterparts.
The visit also gave me the opportunity to spend time with Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey, the TRADOC command sergeant major, to talk about some additional training opportunities for CSMs selected to serve in a nominative position working for a one or two-star commander.
My opportunity to spend time with soldiers and their families on the ground at Fort Eustis just confirms why we have the greatest Army in the world – it’s our people.
But during this visit, like many others I’ve had around the country, Army soldiers in all three components ask questions and express their concerns over the most recent congressional initiatives to reduce the cost-of-living allowances for military retirees under age 62 and closure of the commissaries.
The short answer to express my thoughts about the future of our Army and the impacts on soldiers, Army civilians, and retired soldiers and their families is: Take a stand – now.
If you don’t like what is happening to the Army from a force structure perspective, if you don’t like what is happening to any of the three components that is affecting our team – the greatest ground force in the world – and if you don’t like what is happening to your pay, entitlements or benefits – take a stand and join the Association of the United States Army.
For the past 64 years AUSA has been our advocate serving as the voice for the Army and support for the soldier.
Throughout this past year AUSA has produced a wide variety of educational publications in support of the theme: "The Army Profession."
AUSA provides for our members each month the award winning ARMY Magazine and the AUSA NEWS.
AUSA is your voice on Capitol Hill.
Supporting the total force, AUSA takes a stand to support the needs of all soldiers serving in the active, Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.
AUSA supports the Army with one voice to ensure our force remains the best equipped, best trained, best manned and best lead force in the world.
Now more than ever America’s Army needs AUSA and AUSA needs your membership support.
Membership is the volume knob to ensure your voice is amplified many times over and heard throughout the halls of Congress, from sea to shining sea across this country, and throughout every small town and community in-between.
Keep America’s Army strong! Take a stand!
Still Serving, Still Saluting!