Milano: Embrace changes in new year
January 4, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Welcome back from the holidays and Victory Block Leave! I hope all of you had a great time and are re-energized for what will surely be a challenging year ahead. Special thanks and "job well done!" to those who made block leave a seamless process and an unequivocal success this year. This was a great, total-team effort showcasing our ability to work together and make a complicated and large-scale operation seem routine.
Now it is time to roll up our sleeves and get back to work. We must be ready to take on the challenges that 2012 brings with it. We have all seen a preview of things to come during the close of this past calendar year. The Army will continue to examine the challenges and issues related to defense spending reductions and the drawdown of troops in Iraq and the eventual reduction of troops in Afghanistan.
I am completely confident that our leadership will make the right decisions and ensure that the Army stays ready to do what the nation asks of it. Our retention goals are changing as we concentrate squarely on retaining quality Soldiers. As the Army continues to trim expenses and manpower, we owe our nation the highest quality Soldier we can retain. Our total numbers will come down a bit, but our quality will go up.
We will have several key leadership changes on post. As you already know, I will be departing this spring and Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts will replace me as the 45th commanding general of the Army Training Center Fort Jackson. He is an outstanding leader who is currently in Iraq directing the Iraq Training and Advisory Team. Our new post command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Benson, will be on board in early February and a new deputy commander, Col. Steve Yackley, will assume duties in March. During the summer, as always, leaders at all levels will depart and be replaced. This is nothing new -- this is the Army. These changes will occur without interruption to our most important focus: Training Soldiers.
Our country will also be re-electing our president or vote someone new into office this year. I encourage all of you to take part in the election process by voting. The right to vote and choose who represents and leads us is one of the great benefits of the democratic process and I consider it a civic duty to take full advantage of that right -- as Soldiers, you more than most have certainly earned it.
Keep in mind, though, that there are limits to what we can and cannot do in terms of participation in political events, advocating certain candidates, etc. in uniform or in an official capacity. It's imperative that we, as professional Soldiers who serve the American people, have sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States and take our orders from the National Command Authority, maintain our position of neutrality within the political process. We do this to ensure we do not lose the public's trust in the military institution.
The Staff Judge Advocate will provide additional guidance on this as the campaigning heats up and the election nears. When in doubt, consult your chain of command or legal adviser; by all means, get involved in an appropriate and legal manner.
Change works, especially when you have good leadership and the talent that goes along with it. And, change is the one constant that you can always count on, particularly in today's Army and in the months and years ahead. That's all right -- we've got all the T-shirts, been down this road before, we'll figure it out while maintaining our readiness and taking care of our Soldiers and Families. Again, I welcome all of you back and reassure you that 2012 should be an exciting year for Fort Jackson, the Army and America.
Army Strong and Victory Starts Here!