Sgt. Maj. of the Army visits Yongsan
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston speaks to Soldiers at Yongsan Garrison in Korea during a town hall meeting Nov. 29. Topics of discussed included the importance of fitness and how globalization affects the Army.

YONGSAN GARRISON, Korea -- Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston traveled to Korea Nov. 29 and spent most of the week meeting with Soldiers, civilians and families at various locations on the peninsula.

Preston, who has held his position since January 2004, came to Korea to get a close look at the quality of life for U.S. Forces Korea Soldiers, discuss Army initiatives and focus areas and gather Soldier feedback on broad topics. Among topics discussed were bird's-eye perspectives on how globalization affects the U.S. Army mission and the importance of fitness.

He traveled to U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, Humphreys, Casey, and Carroll among other locations to hold town hall meetings with Soldiers in Korea, reminding them of their important role in the U.S. Army.

"We are busy" he said at Yongsan's town hall meeting Monday. "The Army has 236,000 Soldiers deployed in 80 different countries worldwide. Out of the 26,000 servicemembers on this peninsula, 19,000 are Soldiers."

Preston emphasized to Soldiers the reason that the Army is so busy has much to do with the persistent conflict around the globe which affects global communities and markets. Countries that are unable to police their borders have become sanctuaries to terrorists and many others are in need to humanitarian relief, he added.

He said the situation in Korea also requires U.S. Army involvement.

"I think the threat north of the border here is real," said Preston. "We serve here to help South Korea, our great ally, maintain their freedom and security."

Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is another area Preston focused on, stressing "being fit is part of who we are. It's not about (just) passing the PT test. It's about preparing for the rigors of combat."

Perhaps as a sign of Preston's devotion to physical fitness, he started his week in Korea with an NCO run Monday morning here, with Soldiers and Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army Soldiers from all five areas. But, he added, there are other areas of fitness beyond the physical realm that are just as important.

To be a well-rounded Soldiers he said, one should maintain the other four areas of fitness: Social, Emotional, Spiritual and Family. Preston did a fair amount of listening and answering questions at town hall meetings as well.

"The Sergeant Major [of the Army] came to Korea for the same reason he travels to many other places: to get a pulse of the Soldier issues so he can provide feedback to the Pentagon," said Master Sgt. Jason Shepherd, Preston's Public Affairs advisor.

Preston spends time in the field observing training and procedures to find out how upper-level decisions are working out at the garrison level, he added.

Shepherd mentioned the role of Sergeant Major of the Army demands this kind of attention to enlisted soldiers in order to be an effective liaison to Army leadership.

As Sergeant Major of the Army, Preston serves as the Army Chief of Staff's personal adviser on all enlisted-related matters, particularly in areas affecting Soldier training and quality of life. He devotes the majority of his time to traveling throughout the Army observing training, and talking to Soldiers.

"He travels more than almost any other Army leader," said Shepherd, adding that he's on the road nearly 270 days a year.

Within a typical year, Preston usually makes it over to see Soldiers in Korea twice a year said Shepherd. His last visit was in April. Preston said that the mission in Korea is critical for stability in the Pacific and he's proud of the people serving here.

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