By Mike Bowers, For Leonard Wood Public Affairs April 29, 2014
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 28, 2014) -- A Soldier's character, commitment and competence are keys to helping the Army combat sexual assaults and suicides in the Army.
That was one of Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler's key messages at a Fort Leonard Wood town hall meeting, Friday.
Character is what people do when no one is looking; commitment is looking out for your fellow Soldiers, your unit and the Army and competence means doing your job and what is right, according to Chandler on the final day of a three-day visit to the installation.
"In order to ensure that we reduce sexual assaults and suicides within our Army, we've got to do all three of these things. If not, we're not going to solve this challenge. We've got to be the professionals we say we are. If you say you're a professional, you need to live up to it," Chandler said.
In between observing Fort Leonard Wood's training, Chandler took time to do what he said is his No. 1 priority -- ensure the voices of Soldiers are heard.
His focus groups included junior enlisted and non-commissioned officers at breakfast and lunch, and students attending the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence NCO Academy. The last opportunity to attain Soldiers' concerns was breakfast with regimental and command sergeants major.
Questions from the group mirrored what Chandler said were the top concerns during his travel throughout the Army -- pay, compensation and the future.
He said he is excited about the future of the NCO Corps because some of the tools, such as NCO 2020, make sure the Army has the best quality NCO Corps the nation can afford.
"I think we're recognizing the service and sacrifice of our non-commissioned officers over the last 12 to 13 years, who are in fact, the most deployed population in this war on terror," Chandler said.
"Giving our NCOs a quality education throughout their careers is really going to ensure that we have a better NCO Corps tomorrow than we do today. We have a great one right now."
Chandler said NCOs need to recognize that the Army is going to get smaller and that means statistically less promotions. Accurate records and a great up-to-date DA photo are important.
"With a smaller Army, you need to promote less people," Chandler said. "We will promote, but for a period of time, those promotions are going to be limited. There is a future. Stay with us, and we'll see what happens."
He said he attempts to put aside misconceptions and educate the force that there are difficult decisions that the senior Army leadership or DOD has to make.
"We have to ensure that we continue to have trained and ready Soldiers to deploy, fight and win our nation's wars," Chandler said.
He stated that Fort Leonard Wood is key to helping shape tomorrow's Soldiers.
"Three career management fields are trained here. It's the only place it's done in the entire Army," Chandler said. "We train [Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear experts], Engineers and Military Police [here]. I couldn't think of any other place we would be able to do that other than Fort Leonard Wood.
"Fort Leonard Wood has so many capabilities," Chandler added. "It has great capacity to serve what the Army needs to have done into the future with great NCOs and leaders here who are doing amazing things. What it does contributes immeasurably to the United States Army."