SMA talks professionalism, commitment at 'The Last Frontier'
August 29, 2014
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JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (Aug. 29, 2014) -- Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III visited "The Last Frontier," Aug. 25-28 to thank Soldiers, Army Civilians and Families of U.S. Army Alaska for their service and commitment, likewise to hear them voice their concerns that he will bring back to senior Army leadership.
Chandler traveled first to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, where he observed training and met with small groups of Soldiers at the Sgt. 1st Class Christopher R. Brevard Non-commissioned Officer Academy, and the Alaska National Guard Armory. Chandler and his wife, Jeanne, also engaged a larger audience from around the installation during a town hall.
"Ninety-nine percent of the American population is either unwilling, or unable, to do what you've chosen to do," Chandler said. "And that is to serve your nation."
While the Army contains some phenomenal non-commissioned officers and leaders, Chandler said, he recognized that the NCO Corps faces some challenges, and must look inward to figure out how to make the Army even better than it is today.
One way of doing so is to actively combat the threat of sexual harassment/sexual assault, and prevent suicide within the ranks.
"Does everyone here know what 'right' is? Everybody tells me they know what's right, but why do we still have perpetrators in our formations looking to commit crimes against their fellow Soldiers?" said Chandler.
The Army's top-enlisted leader urged all Soldiers to look out for one another, displaying courage through deeds, not words.
"It's not just wearing the uniform that makes you a Soldier," Chandler said. "It is the character demonstrated by your actions both on and off duty -- by living the Army Values and aspiring to live the Warrior Ethos.
Leaders who embodied character, competence and commitment in all aspects of their lives understand what the Army profession really means.
"I will tell you, ladies and gentlemen," he added, "you are not a rat, or a narc, or a snitch, or 'diming someone out' if you're going to stand up for your brother and sister. If we're not, if we're just letting stuff happen, then you are not the professional you say you are."
Chandler also ventured 350 miles north to visit with Arctic Warriors and Army civilians at Fort Wainwright and the Northern Warfare Training Center, the Army's expert for training and surviving in harsh, Arctic conditions.
While there, Chandler also visited with the Soldiers attending the Infantry Mortar Leaders Course, and re-emphasized the importance of the profession of arms during the Fort Wainwright Town Hall.
While there is an ongoing rebalance, or "shift," to the Pacific Region, the Army remains engaged throughout the world.
"So we don't just have one focus within the Army," said Chandler. "We've got people in South America, Africa, North America and in Europe. But I think you see an increased readiness here in Alaska, and also throughout the rest of the Pacific."
But with the Army undergoing a number of changes -- including the current personnel drawdown and its effect on readiness -- uncertainty proves to be the service's biggest challenge. Chandler cautioned that under such circumstances, it is hard to be predictable in how the Army trains and what it trains for.
He added, however, that the Army still has a responsibility to the American people to be ready.
"And they can care less what your level of readiness is. They just want to know that if called upon, you'll get the job done."
To the Army's senior-enlisted Soldier, the Army remains a phenomenal force. And he credits Alaska's Soldiers, family members and civilians for their contributions and degree of resiliency.
"This is not the easiest place to live, to work, and train," said Chandler. "It takes special people who desire to do what needs to be done in order to ensure that these units in Alaska are well trained and ready for whatever the nation asks them to do."