Taking questions from Soldiers throughout the day, the Army's most senior non-commissioned officer touted a familiar theme on June 20, as he toured his previous duty station: a culture of professionalism.

Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler, the 14th sergeant major of the army, previously served as the commandant of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (or USASMA) at Fort Bliss, before being selected for his current position. Chandler will speak at this year's USASMA graduation ceremony Friday.

"It's always great to come back to Fort Bliss," Chandler said. "My heart is always with the Sergeants Major Academy, where I spent three years."

While taking questions from fellow non-commissioned officers, Chandler clarified his position on reports that he favors regulating Soldiers' off-duty appearance, re-iterating that such regulations are not his aim.

"You have to change the culture and hold people accountable. We have to focus on our sergeants and staff sergeants having the personal courage to make a correction out of uniform," Chandler said. "You are a professional Soldier 24 hours a day, seven days a week and you represent every other Soldier to the American public both on and off duty."

Professionalism will be increasingly stressed in the Non-Commissioned Officer Education System (or NCOES) curriculum and through the Army's current Profession of Arms campaign. The ongoing campaign is designed to focus on the values that define and distinguish the service.
"Making the new (Soldiers) in the Army understand some of the older policies, that's the challenge," said 1st Sergeant Francisco Declet, Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division. "Some of them, all they know is deploy, desert, work, eat, go to sleep and wake up."

Declet was one of dozens of 1st Sergeants who gathered for a question and answer session with the Sergeant Major of the Army, where he stressed the importance of solving issues at the unit level, rather than waiting for new regulations. More important than the possibility of new regulations, Chandler said, is knowing the current ones and enforcing them. For example, Chandler said if there's one problem with the current regulations for female haircuts and fingernails, it's that males don't know the regulations.

"That's a training problem, not a regulation problem," Chandler said.

Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division who won this year's Sullivan Cup, which honors the top tank crew, were congratulated by Chandler in a coining ceremony at the division headquarters building. Having spent his career in the armor branch, Chandler quizzed the tank crew on their actions in the competition and congratulated them on the victory.

"Competition and excellence are awesome, thank you for doing this," Chandler said.

Page last updated Fri June 22nd, 2012 at 00:00