WASHINGTON (Nov. 20, 2013) -- Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong, commanding general of the Northern Regional Medical Command and chief, U.S. Dental Corps, said today's Soldiers have chosen a strenuous profession that over the past 12 years has called for great strength of character and commitment.
Wong made the remarks at a mass re-enlistment ceremony held on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, Nov. 15. Fifty-two Soldiers re-enlisted, representing eight health-related commands across the National Capitol Region.
"The profession of arms demands much of those who serve at any time," Wong said. "But over the past decade of perpetual combat, the nation has called on you as it has never called on its sons and daughters before."
Wong said that after facing multiple deployments, re-enlistment candidates found that competition for places in the current climate of force-shaping was fierce. Of the 190,000 Soldiers eligible for re-enlistment this fiscal year, only 46,000 were authorized.
"It's easy to forget that, even with all the challenges, re-enlistment is a privilege," Wong said.
Due to the Operation Iraqi Freedom "surge" and the ongoing commitment to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, the Army expanded to 180 percent of its normal manpower levels since 2008, according to Master Sgt. James P. Nolen, NRMC senior career counselor.
"This is the first time in my career we have been given a maximum number of Soldiers we can re-enlist," Nolen said. NRMC re-enlisted 100 percent of its quota for fiscal year 2013, and has already re-enlisted 50 percent of its fiscal year 2014 allocation.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III recently told a town hall meeting at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii that, due to federal budget cuts, by 2015 the active-duty Army will be reduced to 490,000 Soldiers. He said that the Army can only retain those Soldiers who "are exceeding the standards."
Nolen said the Soldiers who raised their right hands in the shadow of the Capitol Building did just that.
"They are the ones their commanders consider to be exemplary," he said. "These are the Soldiers they want to shape the future of the Army."