Sergeant Major of the Army Luncheon
6 October 2008
General Peter W. Chiarelli
Vice Chief of Staff, Army
995 words


Good afternoon and thank you...

On behalf of our Secretary of the Army, Honorable Peter Geren, and our Army's Chief of Staff, General George Casey, congratulations ahead of time to this year's Award Winners.

I'm going to go ahead and stick with all the introductions that Sergeant Major Spencer so graciously put out there, but I want to add all the ones that he forgot. But I don't know who they are right now, but consider yourselves welcomed.

Sergeant Major of the Army Preston, it is an honor to be a part of your team and to be a part of your Army. Your leadership and mentorship are legendary and we all look to you to keep us grounded and keep us oriented on that which matters the most: the Soldiers and their families.
And let us all be perfectly clear: without the leadership and direction of the Sergeants Majors of our Army, who exemplify the spirit of our country, and instill the standards in our soldiers and Non-commissioned officers, we could not have been graced with the Audie Murphy's, the Paul Smiths, or the Ross McGinnis's.

Thank you Sergeant Major.

To every one of you who competed this year: you are a testament to the Non-commissioned Officer Corps and the Army. You are the best of the best and you are an example to the Nation that cannot be underestimated.

You can feel our values deeply embedded in this year's competition when you hear about how one of our winners from last year SGT Heyz Seeker dedicated himself to train another competitor this year SPC Barrett Kauling.

Or how another competitor this year SPC Jeremy Whipple voluntarily put his business on hold to train for this year's competition.

And this year we put another crack in the glass ceiling...SGT Lisa Morales, from the 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion proudly representing Forces Command.

You all proudly represent an Army at War. An Army that in seven years has redefined what it means to serve. You are being forged and tempered by the experience of multiple combat tours. You think differently, and you truly understand that a pint of sweat in training, to paraphrase General George Patton, will save a gallon of blood in war.

Your mind, body, and soul are intently focused on folding the fundamentals learned and solidified through experience into preparation for the next deployment.

Just look at how we have redefined the Best Warrior competition. The Sergeant Major threw out the book and rewrote the competition to find the best of the best who can operate in the confusion of the full spectrum environment.

Paddles on the range, carried by safety NCO's wearing colored helmets are no longer acceptable. Instead we have a tough, realistic, and focused Army who can balance the skills of modern combat with professionalism and intellect.

The Nation has asked a lot of our soldiers and their families. We have asked for an incredible level of sacrifice. We've asked ordinary Americans to be extraordinary.

You are extraordinary. And in my mind, and the mind of this nation: you are a National Treasure.
You are shouldering an enormous burden. The sacrifices of our brothers and sisters who have not come home cannot ever be forgotten.

In your hands, in faraway places with strange names such as Latafiya, Samarra, Khadahar, Bagram; and unnamed combat outposts sprinkled across multiple theaters you hold the fragile future of our nation in your hands.

There can be no higher honor than to serve you and your families. For that I thank you as one soldier to another. We who serve you owe you a debt of gratitude.

We also owe you the very best equipment, the very best training, and the very best leadership we can muster.

As you all know and live everyday our Army is strained by the stress of combat. We are juggling the demand of war with the reality of resources.

But make no mistake; your leaders are personally committed to making sure you have the very best equipment and training you need to prepare yourselves, your soldiers, and your families.
But you also owe the Army and the Nation something. It is important... vitally important...an imperative that you take what you have learned from seven years of continuous combat; what you have learned about leading soldiers on today's modern battlefield... to talk about, write about, and share the lessons, the burdens, and the possibilities.

Why' Because only through your experience will we get better. Because only through your experiences will we get stronger. Because only through your experiences will we get smarter.
Share them - make it part of how our soldiers create an advantage.
Finally, I will tell you that our re-enlistment rates tell the story the best. We are meeting and exceeding our targets. You are committed to the future of this nation and for that we must all be proud.

I see represented here today the future of our nation. You are the leaders of our Army today and the Nation tomorrow.

The full spectrum of skills you have developed are what our nation needs in the 21st century. You superbly leverage you technical and tactical competence, your moral integrity, and the leadership experience of combat to create an Army of professionals.

When I think of the soldiers I served with as a Division and Corp Commander in combat; visit the soldiers around the country today; visit the wounded warriors who are fighting to recover...one thing keeps coming to mind: You embody the Army's Values: Loyalty - Duty - Respect -- Selfless Service - Honor - Integrity -- Personal Courage - these values, ground in the spirit of our nation, are what make America Strong.

You are the heartbeat of our country - you inspire the nation.

Again, congratulations to whoever is awarded the Soldier and NCO of the year. Congratulations to everyone who competed in the competition.

There are only winners on this stage today. You proudly represent the over 1 million who wear our uniform. Never forget how very proud we are of you.

Sergeant Major: thank you again for letting me stand in the presence of such greatness.

Army Strong.

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