ATLANTA--First Army Soldiers and Civilian employees said goodbye to Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald T. Riling in a ceremony at Fort Gillem July 7. Riling served as First Army's senior enlisted Soldier since June 2007 and is moving on to assume the U.S Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) command sergeant major position.

I sat down with Command Sgt. Maj. Riling and spoke with him about his time with First Army and his upcoming transition to FORSCOM.

PAO: Command Sgt. Maj. Riling, where do you call home'
CSM: I was raised in Riverview, Michigan.

PAO: You have been the command sergeant major of First Army for three years. How would you describe your feelings as you prepare to depart the organization'
CSM: Its truly been a great experience. I have enjoyed working closely with the dedicated Soldiers and civilians throughout First Army and have learned so much from them. I'm confident that I can use the knowledge I've gained and the experiences I have had to shape my actions in my next job. On a very personal note, I'll miss my First Army family.

PAO: What has given you the most satisfaction in working at First Army'
CSM: I've gained a tremendous satisfaction from working with the members in this command. I'm convinced that all of the Soldiers and Civilian employees associated with First Army are professionals. They all want to do what's right for our Army and our deploying Soldiers. They are committed to the First Army mission of mobilizing, training, validating and deploying Reserve Component Soldiers to combat operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world.

PAO: What has been the greatest challenge you have had to overcome during the last three years'
CSM: I think the greatest challenge for me personally was to learn the Reserve Component side of the Army, from something as simple as the acronyms we use in talking about our mission, to understanding the true depth of what it takes to mobilize, train and resource units properly so they're successful on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. Another challenge has been the transformation of First Army. It's a difficult task to go through the kind of tough and thorough transformation that First Army has accomplished during the past 2-3 years. However, First Army has done a tremendous job of consolidating units and facilities, enhancing mobilization training centers and synchronizing the training given to Reserve Component units. And we did it while continuing to mobilize and train units. The mission never stopped to wait for the transformation to happen.

PAO: Is there anything you feel you did not have time to accomplish at First Army'
CSM: I wish I could have spent more time visiting our training brigades and observing the great work they do on a daily basis. I've found it very difficult to have the time to travel around the command and meet all of our hard working Soldiers and Civilian employees. First Army is made up of two divisions, 16 brigades and 104 battalions that are spread across America and I, of course, could not get out and visit every piece of training that is going on...just too many training events in too many places for me to be everywhere at one time. Having said that, I have the utmost faith and confidence in the leadership found in our divisions, brigades and battalions. All our trainers are fully capable of providing these deploying units the absolute best training and advice they need.

PAO: What positive changes have you observed in First Army during the past three years'
CSM: I think that during the past three years First Army, and the Army as a whole, has become much better at how we integrate the Reserve Component force. The Army really is an "Army of One" and overall respect for the Reserve Component force has grown. That leads to another positive change, which is that our training and deployment preparation processes have improved. We in First Army recognize that some of these Reserve Component soldiers have already deployed to combat locations and so they return with a high level of combat experience. This understanding and experience in combat makes the multi-component training better. Some other examples of things that we in First Army have gotten better at over the past few years include: communicating with leaders engaged in combat operations by embedding our trainers forward in Iraq and Afghanistan; validating and deploying units as a result of the consolidation of mobilization training centers; and, recruiting and assigning experienced observer-controller/trainers through our tougher selection requirements.

PAO: How would you describe your feelings about taking the FORSCOM command sergeant major position'
CSM: I feel very humbled and honored to be given the opportunity to assume this position. I truly look forward to the challenge of being a leader in a command that is responsible for the readiness, care and deployment of more than 75 percent of the Army's force structure and 87 percent of the Army's combat power. I know there will be some tough decisions. Our Army has many challenges and it depends upon Forces Command to do its part in preparing units for combat and maintaining Soldier readiness.

PAO: What are the major challenges you see for yourself as the FORSCOM command sergeant major in the coming months and years'
CSM: I think one of the biggest challenges Forces Command will face in the near future will be maintaining the high level of support needed to sustain current combat operations while at the same time keeping intense focus on transforming the force, training the Soldier, and mobilizing and reconstituting our units . . . and doing all this while accomplishing the requirements involved in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure act. But, I also know that Forces Command will meet that challenge, as it has in the past, and we'll continue to provide the kind of quality support required by combat commanders.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16