Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Hardy talks with Soldiers at last year's NCO, Soldier, and Drill Sergeant of the Year competitions. Hardy addressed other senior NCOs observing the competition on Eubanks Field.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (June 6, 2012) -- Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Hardy said he had "no idea" what he was getting into in the spring of 2010 when he accepted an offer from then-Maj. Gen. Michael Ferriter to become the Maneuver Center of Excellence's second top enlisted Soldier.

"It was a critical time of transition," he said about the effort to link Infantry and Armor here as part of Base Realignment and Closure. "You could still see there was some apprehension and misgivings on both sides. The order was done, and the train was moving, but with the Armor School still being up at Fort Knox (Ky.), there was a divide in the MCoE. Coming into the position, one thing myself and General Ferriter discussed was how we'd have to close that divide and build the team."

Mission accomplished.

Now, after more than 10 deployments -- including combat rotations to Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq -- and 26 years in the Army, Hardy is calling it a career. He's set to relinquish his position to Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello during a change-of-responsibility ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday in Marshall Auditorium at McGinnis-Wickam Hall.

Fort Knox had been Armor's home since 1940. Emotions ran high and MCoE leaders faced something of an "us vs. them" mentality to complete the move and get all the BRAC objectives into place ahead of a deadline last September, Hardy said.

"People don't like change," he said. "But the fact is the Infantry and Armor have been fighting together. They fight together on the modern battlefield, and they're in the mix throughout all the organizations. It only made sense to bring the two combat arms of action together so we could really capitalize on best practices as we form training and doctrine for the maneuver formation of the future."

Hardy also has been instrumental in cultivating the MCoE's "Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force" initiative alongside Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, the Fort Benning commanding general.

"We had to build up some momentum and energy to make it happen," he said. "That launched an 18-month road show for myself and General Brown going around briefing senior leaders in the Army. … It's going to make a difference, and it's going to enable the squads to be able to do what we're asking them to do on the modern and future battlefields."

Prior to his present role, Hardy had been command sergeant major of the 75th Ranger Regiment. He spent more than half his Army career at Fort Benning, where he first arrived for Infantry one station unit training after enlisting in January 1986.

He said the relationship between the Army and surrounding communities in the Chattahoochee Valley is unique.

"The support here is like nowhere else I've ever seen for an installation," he said. "We always try to include the community in our events out here on Fort Benning and get the interaction. … It establishes that connection between Soldiers and the community at large."

Hardy's immediate plans include a block of leave this summer. Afterward, he'll continue the transition to civilian life -- his Army retirement won't become official until the end of the year.

The command sergeant major said he plans to remain in the area. The Hardy Family owns a home in Midland.

"I'm keeping all my options open," he said. "I've been a Soldier my entire adult life. It's that unknown that you're apprehensive about. … Everybody says, 'You'll know when it's time.' And it's time.

"It's been good. I've enjoyed every minute of every day that I've been a Soldier. None of us get to where we're at by ourselves. There are a number of people I've worked with, I've served for and been able to lead -- they're the ones who made me the person I am. I owe a great deal of gratitude and thanks to all those that I served with."

Page last updated Wed June 6th, 2012 at 10:17