SMA Preston joins AUSA staff

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., president of the Association of the United States Army, recently announced that Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, USA, Ret., has joined the AUSA national staff as the director of noncommissioned officer and soldier programs.

He succeeded Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmie Spencer, USA, Ret., who retired in May following 20 years of service in this position.

Sullivan also announced that Spencer will continue serving AUSA as a senior fellow of the Association’s Institute of Land Warfare.

Sullivan said, "AUSA welcomes Sergeant Major of the Army Ken Preston as our new director of NCO and soldier programs."

Adding, "As the longest serving noncommissioned officer to hold this key Army position, Sergeant Major of the Army Ken Preston will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our Association during these challenging times.

"We welcome him and his wife, Karen, to the AUSA team."

In an interview with AUSA NEWS, Preston said, "My goal at AUSA is to be a contributing member of the team. I want to fully understand our mission as it relates to both AUSA and the Army – active, Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve – so I can contribute in a positive way to recognize the contributions of our noncommissioned officers, soldiers and their families serving around the world."

Preston was sworn in as the 13th Sergeant Major of the Army on Jan. 15, 2004, and retired on March 1, 2011, after 36 years of service.

As the Army’s top noncommissioned officer, Preston was the Army chief of staff’s personal adviser on all enlisted-related matters, particularly in areas affecting soldier and noncommissioned officer training, education, family life and quality of life.

A veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Preston was serving as the command sergeant major of Combined Joint Task Force 7 in Baghdad, Iraq, when he was selected as sergeant major of the Army.

In addition to his many appearances before Congress where he testified on soldier and soldier-family issues and concerns during these challenging times when the nation was at war fighting the Global War on Terrorism, he travelled around the world and around the Army to visit and talk with soldiers and their families.

"I’ve always been a boots-on-the-ground soldier working directly with leaders to help them achieve mission success and take care of their soldiers and families," Preston said.

Adding, "We have the greatest Army in the world. I had the honor, as the sergeant major of the Army, to visit allied armies in more than 35 countries around the world – helping them emulate our Noncommissioned Officer Corps and establish a professional development system that would provide the broadening and educational experiences needed to grow their enlisted leaders to serve at a progressively higher levels of responsibility at a variety of command and staff level assignments."

Commenting on the complex and turbulent times in which we live, Preston said, "AUSA has always been the voice of the Army and support for our soldiers, our Army civilians, retirees, veterans, and their families. This role and inherent responsibility is even more critical today under the fiscal challenges our Army and nation are facing and will continue to face.

"Leaders at all echelons will have to make the tough decisions on what activities and missions the Army and our Nation can and cannot support, and we need AUSA’s strong voice to ensure our government leaders and Congress have a clear picture and understanding of their needs."

Emphasizing the important role AUSA plays on the national and international scene, Preston noted, "AUSA’s strong and credible ties to government, industry, our nation, our retirees, our veterans, the Army family, and the men and women who serve, make our Association the lynchpin to help the Army leadership identify the priorities and needs of our Army to remain a strong and capable member of the joint team in the defense of our nation."

He added, "Also, supporting our Army’s leadership we will build and maintain an enduring team for all our Army members – active, guard and reserve – through the Soldier for Life Program.

"I am proud of the honor and the opportunities that I have had throughout my Army career, and I am equally proud of the opportunities I have now to serve our soldiers, Army civilians, retirees, veterans and our Army families through our professional organization – AUSA."

(Editor’s note: See Preston’s first AUSA NEWS "NCO Report" on Page 19.)