By Sgt. Matthew G. Ryan 25th Inf. Div. PAONovember 12, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Nov. 12, 2013) -- It was standing room only for almost 1,500 Soldiers and family members who came to hear what the Army's senior noncommissioned officer, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, had to say during a town hall meeting at Smith Theater, Nov. 5 on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
The town hall was part of a three-day visit to Hawaii, Chandler's second time here since assuming the position as the senior enlisted advisor for the Army. Among his responsibilities, he advises Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno on all enlisted matters, mainly areas dealing with training and quality of life for Soldiers.
Upon Chandler's arrival at Schofield Barracks, Maj. Gen. Kurt Fuller and Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones, the leadership team of the 25th Infantry Division, greeted him for a discussion about the strategic challenges of the Army and how they impact the Tropic Lighting community. Afterward, Chandler headed to "Bronco Inn", the 3rd Brigade Combat Team's dining facility, for lunch and a more tactical discussion with junior NCOs.
Later at his town hall meeting, Soldiers, family members and Department of Army civilians were able to ask questions and discuss issues that concern the Army and Schofield Barracks community. Chandler said he enjoys opportunities to share information from the leadership of the Army and get direct feedback from members of the Army team.
His discussion with the audience started with a focus on professionalism in the Army, including the importance of character, commitment and competence. He said they must guide Soldiers of all ranks when they encounter challenges, such as sexual assault, hazing and suicide.
"I expect NCOs and all leaders to stop talking and start doing something about sexual assault," he said. "We can solve this problem by getting out there and doing our part. We must look after one another, step up and be professionals in everything we do."
To help everyone understand the problem, he asked the audience if they had ever had something stolen from their barracks room. Many Soldiers said "yes" and that the incident made them mad and left them with a lack of trust in their fellow Soldiers and their leadership.
"When someone steals something from your room, it's tangible," he said. "It can be replaced. But, with sexual assault, it can never be replaced. You can't buy back someone's dignity and respect."
He said a very small percentage of Soldiers are committing these crimes, but everyone else must be engaged to help Soldiers in need or identify problems in their ranks.
"If we are not helping, we are part of the problem," he said.
Chandler said he is confident that if NCOs get behind this challenge, he knows the Army will solve it.
During a question-and-answer session at the end of the town hall, Soldiers and family members focused on the effects of the drawdown of troops and budget cuts.
"Budget cuts and sequestration are out of the Army's control," he said. "Our Army is guided by the decisions of our elected leaders, so we must prioritize the assets they give us on every level to develop an effective and professional Army," he said, noting that because of the budget cuts the active Army will have only 490,000 Soldiers by the end of 2015.
"We are going to have fewer troops and less assets and equipment," he said. "The Army needs to be trained and ready to defend the nation, and to do that we can retain only those Soldiers who are exceeding the standards."
After the town hall meeting, Chandler finished his visit to two training sites. His first stop was the Lightning Academy where he received a briefing about the upcoming Jungle Operations Training Center and the current courses available, including the Adaptive Leader Course.
He ended his visit to Schofield Barracks by observing a squad- and platoon-level live fire demonstration with an assault on a simulated enemy objective within jungle terrain.