SMA talks sexual assault, downsizing in Iraq
June 24, 2011
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq (Army News Service, June 24, 2011) -- The Army's senior-most enlisted Soldier visited troops here, June 24, 2011, to discuss the future of the Army as well as ongoing changes that many Soldiers may face.
The focus on the trip was to grasp a better understanding of Soldiers' views on the subject.
"My job is to be a scout," said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, referring to his duty to hear the concerns of Soldiers. "I go out and perform reconnaissance."
During his visit with USD-C Soldiers, Chandler addressed some of the top issues facing the Army today. The first on that list was sexual assault amongst Soldiers.
"We've still got sexual assaults happening in our formations every day, and that's not OK," Chandler said. "I have zero tolerance for anyone who sexually harasses or assaults another Soldier. We're supposed to be professionals. We're supposed to be Soldiers who live by an ethos. We're supposed to be looking out for each other, but we still have stuff like this going on every day."
To improve this poor behavior, Chandler put it to the average Soldier, from private to senior noncommissioned officers, to hold each other accountable for their actions.
"I need you to be aware that sexual assault is more prevalent then you probably realize," said Chandler, addressing the audience of noncommissioned officers and junior enlisted Soldiers. "You have an active role to prevent it, to intervene, to act, and to motivate others."
The second topic of discussion was the changes to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
"There are three things that continually come up that Soldiers are concerned with," Chandler said. "One is cohabitation, the other is standards of conduct, and the third is cross-dressing."
Chandler emphasized that the same standards of conduct apply to all Soldiers, regardless of sexual orientation.
To give an example, Chandler depicted a scene of three different couples greeting each other on the parade field at a homecoming ceremony after a deployment. The first was a heterosexual couple, that was pushing the limits of propriety. The other two were homosexual couples, who chose instead to be discrete in their affections.
When asked which couple was inappropriate, the audience unanimously chose the heterosexual couple as going too far on the parade field. Chandler used the example to show Soldiers that they knew what right looked like and that it wasn't sexual orientation-specific.
"The Army is not going to give you a policy that says 'this is what right looks like,'" said Chandler. "It's about leadership describing to individuals what's appropriate and then enforcing the standard. The local command will describe what's appropriate."
The third issue on Chandler's list was the downsizing of the Army.
"We're going to bring the size of the Army down," Chandler said. "We're going to eliminate about 50,000 positions in the next five years, and that's the active component only."
Chandler described the ways in which the downsizing was going to take place. The first of which, was simply by recruiting less new Soldiers.
Another way to eliminate positions was to retain less people.
"If you're not performing, you're probably not going to be offered the privilege of re-enlisting," Chandler said. "If you are performing at an average level, you're at a risk of not being able to re-enlist. If you're a retirement-eligible person and you're doing an average job, we're going to tell you okay, you can go ahead and retire now."
However, Chandler listed a description of those Soldiers that would be welcome to re-enlist.
"If you're physically fit, if you're meeting the standards of height and weight, if you are a disciplined Soldier, if you are seeking greater opportunities, if you are seeking military and civilian education, then we're probably going to keep you on the team," Chandler said. "We're only going to retain the best people."
But no matter what the changes, Chandler said that knowing and enforcing the standards will mean continued success for the Army.
"Know the standard, set the standard, enforce the standard," Chandler said. "You do those and this Army will be fine."