Faces From the Front for January 17, 2011 - Sgt. Maj. James E. Allen
Current Unit: Regional Support Command-North
Current Position: Sergeant Major
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Camp Mike Spann, Afghanistan
Hometown: Yazoo City, Miss.
Years of Service: 23
While the challenges that Soldiers face on the battlefield can be some of the most rigorous and demanding, there are a variety of other difficulties that troops deal with while overseas. Challenges like being separated from family and friends can make it difficult for Soldiers to focus on their missions. As the sergeant major with the Regional Support Command-North (RSC-N), Sgt. Maj. James E. Allen works to ensure the personal welfare of U.S. service members in Afghanistan and counsels the Afghan National Army (ANA) leadership on properly training and equipping their Soldiers.
“This position gives me the grand opportunity to help manage a command of over 300 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and contractors serving all over the northern sector of Afghanistan,” Allen said. “It’s like being a father, counselor, mentor, coach and even a supervisor to so many different personalities. I enjoy being around the troops and finding out what is on their minds and what I can do to make their stay in Afghanistan better.”
In order to ensure productivity and success, Allen promotes and encourages continuous communication throughout his command. As a leader, he speaks with each Soldier to ensure their well being and helps them to learn the command structure and tasks required to keep operations running efficiently.
“In my opinion, good order and discipline comes from constant communication and counseling,” Allen said. “When subordinates know and understand what is expected of them and what the consequences are for failure to abide by the rules, they tend to stay on the right track. The RSC-N is fortunate to have a mature group of military personnel who constantly set the example for the younger ones.”
Through mentorship and strong communication, Allen has helped to maintain the spirits and confidence of his Soldiers. This has not only brought service members under his command closer together, but also encouraged them in their efforts in Afghanistan.
“The morale and motivation is very high,” Allen explained. “Where else in this world can a Soldier go from being Pvt. Joe Stuffy in the U.S. to being a trainer or mentor for the Afghan Army?”
“I can see it on the Soldiers’ faces when I talk to them during my visits,” Allen added. “They are always excited to tell you what they did and the missions they accomplished.”
While the work can be challenging, Allen and his Soldiers know their efforts in mentoring, training and equipping the ANA is contributing to the end goal of a self-sustaining Afghanistan.
“At times, working with the ANA can be difficult due to the language barrier,” Allen explained. “This makes communication a bit challenging unless you have an interpreter to assist you. Nevertheless, we try to establish a partnership with the Afghans and to let them know that we are here to help.”
“The RSC-N’s Soldiers and contractors know that they are making a difference in this country,” Allen added. “They also know that they have the full support of family and friends back at home who continue to tell them how much they appreciate what we are doing here in Afghanistan.”
Allen is expected to return home in early 2011, and looks forward to taking his family out to dinner and catching up on all the time they have spent apart. He is also eager to get together with his siblings, with whom he credits with his decision to join the Army, and swap deployment stories.
“My decision to join the Army was definitely influenced by my older brothers’ service,” Allen said. “The discipline, loyalty and maturity that they showed when they came home to visit was in keeping up with the same ideals that our parents instilled in us as kids. It was the willingness to be the best that you can be, no matter what.”