Army's senior enlisted leader challenges Soldiers to be 'truly professional'
March 8, 2012
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WIESBADEN, Germany (March 8, 2012) -- "What does it actually mean to be an Army professional?"
That's the question the Army's senior enlisted leader posed to more than 1,000 Wiesbaden-based Soldiers at a Town Hall March 7.
During a several-hour-long visit to Wiesbaden, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III discussed Army standards, asked for input on future uniform changes and recognized outstanding individuals for efforts exceeding the standard.
"We're all professionals, right? Are we who we say we are?" asked Chandler, pointing to lax standards in dress and physical fitness, recurring problems of sexual harassment and sexual assault among the ranks, and too few Soldiers following through on structured self-development.
"Let's talk about leaving an Army comrade behind. How do you think we're doing in our sexual assault and harassment prevention programs? We're failing," Chandler said, pointing to the case of a Marine (Lance Cpl. Harry Lew) committing suicide after being physically harassed because of his ethnicity and other incidents across the military.
"We still accept an attitude of inappropriate behaviors -- that's not professional," he said. "If you allow those types of behaviors to occur in your section, squad or platoon, you are not professional."
"It's you and I who will solve it -- not Army policies," Chandler said, adding that "any Soldier who preys on another Soldier has no place in our Army. There are too many female Soldiers in our Army who are preyed upon by us men. That's got to stop."
It is every Soldier's obligation to ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect, he said.
Referring to the Army's weight control guidance -- Army Regulation 670-1 -- Chandler said it is also every Soldier's responsibility to comply with the "professional standard."
"If you don't meet the standard then you don't deserve to be a Soldier. The same applies to your personal appearance and conduct," he said, stressing that unsightly or offensive tattoos and hairstyles have no place in the uniformed service.
"Tell me why we put tattoos on our hands, our necks and our face if not to draw attention to ourselves," he said, adding that obscenities and "things that bring discredit to our Army" are particularly offensive. Service members must consider if their tattoos are indeed professional and ask themselves, "Is that how you want to be represented?"
The Army's 14th sergeant major of the Army also told the audience that too few individuals are completing mandatory structured self-development courses.
"You've got a responsibility to get with the program and get the training," said Chandler, pointing out that only a fraction of those enrolled have completed the training.
After fielding a range of questions from the assembled Soldiers, ranging from uniform changes to retention, Chandler said that with pending reductions in force, Soldiers must seriously consider whether they have what it takes to continue serving.
"We're going to reduce the size of the Army by 90,000 over the next six years. You are going to have to work harder to earn the opportunity to continue serving.
"We are scrutinizing ourselves, and those who have consistently not met the standards" will be asked to leave, he said. "People make mistakes -- that doesn't mean your career is over if you've made one mistake. But if you're a repeat offender, you've got to go."
Before wrapping up the Town Hall, Chandler asked outstanding Soldiers to come forward and be recognized. Grilling each on why they deserved the recognition, Chandler then awarded them a sergeant major of the Army coin and thanked them for their service.
"I am honored to serve with you," he concluded. "I'm honored to be your sergeant major of the Army."
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Chandler and his wife, Jeanne, also visited service members and families in Baumholder, Heidelberg, Kaiserslautern and Landstuhl during the visit.
For more photos from the visit to Wiesbaden visit the garrison's Flickr page at www.flickr.com/photos/wpao.