By Spc. Joshua Edwards, Combined Task Force Dragoon Public AffairsSeptember 26, 2013
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Sept. 26, 2013) -- The senior enlisted advisor for the U.S. Army met with Dragoon Troopers during a visit to bases in southern Afghanistan to address Soldiers' concerns and discuss current Army priorities, Sept. 22.
During the visit to Forward Operating Base Walton and Kandahar Airfield, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler spoke with Troopers of Combined Task Force Dragoon about current events and the effect they might have on them while serving in Afghanistan and it resonated with those at the forward operating base, or FOB.
"It means a lot to have him come down here and show his support for the Soldiers and what they are doing out here," said Command Sgt. Maj. Stanley Akins, senior enlisted advisor for Field Artillery Squadron, Combined Task Force Dragoon, at FOB Walton. "For him to be at the level that he is and to come out here to talk to the Soldiers that are actually on the ground, that means more to them than any award we could give them. It meant more to me for him to come out here to see my Soldiers."
Chandler addressed the issue of suicide and the necessity for good leadership in the Army. Pvt. Danny Chen, a Chinese-American U.S. Army Soldier who committed suicide, Oct. 3, 2011, became the topic of discussion in reference to the growing problem of Soldiers taking their own lives.
"We are all responsible for how we treat each other," said Chandler. "You should know your Soldiers and know how to motivate them without having to resort to abuse. We are not measured by what we say, but by what we do."
At a town hall meeting at Kandahar Airfield, Chandler again spoke about a number of topics including sequestration, finance, the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program, known as SHARP, education benefits, suicide prevention and leadership development. Soldiers were afforded a chance to come forward, ask questions and address any outstanding issues they might have.
Chandler also spoke about the Army's mission in support of Operating Enduring Freedom and the priority to assist the forces of Afghanistan while maintaining security of essential elements.
"I believe the Army's top priority here in Afghanistan is to continue the transition to the Afghan forces," said Chandler. "I think number two is really about force protection and retrograde so we can get our equipment and our people out of here."
Afterwards, a handful of Soldiers were recognized and given coins from the highest-ranking enlisted person in the U.S. Army. Soldiers in attendance were also given the chance to have their photographs taken with Chandler to finish off the event.
Chandler expressed his gratitude to all of the Soldiers for their efforts while deployed here in Afghanistan and gave thanks in hopes of inspiring teamwork and comradeship amongst them.
"First of all, I want to tell all of our Soldiers 'thanks,'" said Chandler. "Thank you for what you are doing. You are making a difference and you are achieving our nation's strategy. We've got to keep our heads on a swivel and look out for one another."