U.S. Army Europe command sergeant major serves as mentor, leader, spokesman for command's enlisted Soldiers
Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Beam, then command sergeant major for V Corps and Multi-National Corps - Iraq, listens to an after-action report after conducting a patrol with 101st Airborne Division Soldiers during a visit to Forward Operating Base Wilson, Iraq, in January 2007. Beam deployed to Iraq with V Corps in December 2005.

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- U.S. Army Europe Commander Gen. Carter Ham selected a player from the home team to be the fourteenth USAREUR command sergeant major. Ham chose V Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Beam, who had served as the interim USAREUR senior enlisted advisor since June.

"I am pleased to announce that Command Sgt. Maj. Beam will serve as my right hand, my senior enlisted advisor," said Ham during his Oct. 27 announcement. "Command Sgt. Maj. Beam is an outstanding senior noncommissioned officer who represents everything a Soldier should aspire to be. He's a warrior, leader, and mentor. He will continue to act as the voice of the enlisted Soldiers and their families throughout USAREUR. I know I can depend on him to set the standard that all Soldiers should strive to attain."

Beam, a 32-year veteran, had served as the V Corps command sergeant major since August 2005. He assumed the position of interim USAREUR command sergeant major in June.

Beam said he has a definitive mission in his role as the USAREUR senior enlisted advisor.

"My job is to travel about our battlespace and ensure that Gen. Ham's intent is understood and complied with, to help solve issues at the lowest level possible and advise him based on my observations and experience," he said.

To meet the commander's intent, Beam said he plans to engage Soldiers by traveling to USAREUR units to conduct physical fitness training.

"It's the one time when I can talk to all of the Soldiers. Everybody does PT, and then, afterwards, I can talk with them," he said. Beam said most issues can be handled at the local level, but acknowledged that Soldiers may not know some information because of a communications breakdown in the chain of command. Regardless of the issue, Beam maintains that there are no stupid questions.

"[Former Sergeant Major of the Army] Jack Tilley told me one time that, regardless of what they ask, you have to answer them," Beam explained. "You may not like their questions, but if you cut them off or create an environment where they won't ask questions, you're destined to fail. Nobody else will ever ask another question."

Beam is very involved in Soldier issues, readiness and programs. In particular, he said he plans to promote the Sexual Assault Prevention Program, the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program and safety.

Beam stressed that female and male Soldiers can fall victim to sexual assault, and that taking personal accountability can prevent a lot of incidents.

"We have really got to put the 'battle' back in 'battle buddy,'" he said. "Soldiers are always around when other Soldiers are drinking. They need to look out for each other, especially those who have drunk too much. The CQs [on-duty unit charge of quarters personnel] also need to be more proactive and look out for the Soldiers because a lot of these incidents are taking place in the barracks."

Beam said because he is concerned that single Soldiers are too often forgotten, he plans to build a team of sergeants major who will work to re-energize the BOSS program.

"BOSS does well in some communities. I'd like to capitalize on those successes and spread it across the command," he said.

Beam said safety is another paramount concern. He said he wants to ensure Soldiers have the equipment and training they need to prepare for the way they will fight.

"We know that our jobs are inherently dangerous, so we need to train as realistically as we can, mitigating some of the most dangerous areas with good risk assessment," he said.

Beam emphasized the need for leaders to talk with their Soldiers, but noted that they can't speak to all Soldiers in the same tone. Leaders need to address each Soldier as fits the situation. He said he also believes in what he calls "tough love."

"If you're out drinking, it's better if you call me and I come and get you at 4 o'clock on a Sunday morning. At least you'll be alive on Monday morning when I chew your butt for being a knucklehead and not planning," he said.

He advises Soldiers to listen to their sergeants, but to also educate themselves about the Army. "Knowledge is a very powerful thing," he said.

Beam brings to his new position more than three decades of experience, including several tours in Germany. As his first duty station, Beam was assigned to the 3rd Armored Division in Gelnhausen. He was later assigned to the 1st Infantry Division in Schweinfurt. And from 2005 until last month Beam was assigned as the V Corps command sergeant major. He deployed to Iraq with the corps in December 2005.

Beam said he is pleased with the services and quality of life in USAREUR, but he wants to help make improvements. He said he strongly believes that the Army is taking care of its own better than ever, citing Warrior Transition Units, wellness centers and robust physical therapy centers as proof.

"Germany is a good place to ply your trade as a Soldier and to raise a family," he said. "Our quality of life is good, but not good enough. We continue to work toward a better quality of life as we continue to transform our stance here in Europe.

Beam called his selection as the USAREUR command sergeant major is "a great honor."

"USAREUR is a prestigious command with a proud history," he said. "As we continue to fight the Global War on Terror and transform USAREUR, we are writing the next chapter of that history right now. I am proud to have a role in those missions and for the opportunity to work with the finest Soldiers in the world," Beam said.

"We all have to understand that during your present tour your community may be undergoing change. But if the Soldiers really want to see how it turns out, they should come back for another tour."

Page last updated Thu December 4th, 2008 at 03:09