SMA: Taking Care of People Boosts Army Readiness

SMA: Taking Care of People Boosts Army Readiness

SMA Grinston visits soldiers at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Photo by: U.S. Army/Markeith Horace

Army efforts to take care of people are critical to maintaining readiness, the service’s senior enlisted leader said.

“We need to look at our people as readiness and then we build up from there,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said.

Speaking Aug. 31 at the Fires Conference 2021, a three-day virtual event hosted by the Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Grinston emphasized the importance of the Army’s People First focus.

“I don't think it's People First versus readiness,” he said. “In the Army, our people are our readiness. If I'm a soldier and I need to come to work, and I'm worried about these other things, whether you know, I can’t get child care for my family, I’m not physically ready … [then] how can we be a ready Army?”

Grinston also talked about the importance of taking care of soldiers’ mental health, saying the Army must continue to be proactive and continue to remove the stigma around seeking help.

“We work every day on our physical fitness,” he said, “but are you working on your mental fitness every day?”

“I think the more we can get in front of those issues before you have a catastrophic event, the better,” Grinston added. “Every day in our units, I encourage you … to take those few minutes to clear your mind and think of positive things that are happening in your life, because all those negative things will replay over and over throughout the day.”

Taking care of soldiers will ensure the United States has the greatest Army in the world, Grinston said, using as an example the recent evacuation mission in Afghanistan.

“Some people will question, ‘Do we have the greatest Army in the world?’ Absolutely,” he said. “What other Army in the world can take a unit in 18 hours, deploy them to another country and hold an airfield, and then evacuate 120,000 people?”

As the Army looks to the future, it must continue to modernize the force, and that includes investing in long-range precision fires, Grinston said.

“The No. 1 priority is still long-range precision fires,” he said. “We're not coming off that. We've done some incredible things, but we’ve got a long way to go with our long-range precision fires.”

A career artilleryman, Grinston said he was proud to serve in his career field.  

“I've always been an artilleryman, I'm very proud of that. I’ve never changed my MOS, 13 Bravo,” Grinston said. “I am so proud of what job I had and where I came from, and I appreciate being a part of this discussion. I'm proud of our Army, and I'm proud of all that you've done for your country in the last year.”