CSA salutes African-American military leaders
February 26, 2009
By Joe Ferrare
BALTIMORE (Army News Service, Feb. 26, 2009) - Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. wove together the themes of leadership, service and the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer as he addressed the 4th Annual Stars & Stripes Dinner here Feb. 20.
The event honored African-American military leaders and was held in conjunction with the Black Engineer of the Year Award Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Global Competitiveness Conference, which took place Feb. 18 - 22.
Casey said that as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he is paid to look to the future and ready the Army for coming challenges. He then outlined the era of persistent conflict the nation faces and the vital role leadership will play in the Army's success.
"As you look at [the era of persistent conflict], it is very, very complex. The key thing that comes to mind for us in the Army is that it's all going to be about leadership. It's all going to be about the type of leaders that you've recognized here tonight. They're the ones that are going to have to chart the path through this very difficult and complex period," Casey said.
Speaking on stage next to the general officer and senior executive service founders of the event, Casey said to loud applause that the Army had decided that now was the right time to celebrate the Army's noncommissioned officers.
"Now tonight we've recognized mostly officers. I will tell you that we have a national asset here in all of the armed forces, and that's our Noncommissioned Officer Corps. You should know that over a third of our command sergeants major, our senior noncommissioned officers, are African-American, and they are the leaders of the best Noncommissioned Officer Corps in the world.
"As I've looked around, they are the glue that's holding this force together in an incredibly challenging time," Casey said. "They're the ones who are allowing our Soldiers to accomplish the near impossible every day, all around the world. And, we felt that we had to inform the American public about the great contribution that they make and the national asset that they are."
Casey then told the stories of several African-American noncommissioned officers who displayed the exemplary leadership the coming challenges will require, from Sgt. Emanuel Stance, who in 1870 became the first African-American to be awarded the Medal of Honor, to Sgt. Chris Waiters, who earned the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in action in Baghdad in 2005.
The noncommissioned officers he spoke of were "all examples that every generation of Americans has risen to the challenge, and I have great confidence that this generation of Americans will do the same," Casey said.
The Army will also rise to the call to service issued by President Barack Obama during his inaugural address, Casey said.
"President Obama talked about a new era of responsibility. A recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world. Duties that we do not grudgingly accept, he said, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining to our character in giving our all to a difficult task.
"Your Army, and your Armed Forces, have answered the president's call," Casey said. "And we like to think that we're Army Strong. And we are. And we believe that our strength comes from our values, our ethos, our people, and our diversity. And our diversity is the strength of our Army. And our Army is the strength of our nation."