I was just reminded that rule number one is don't follow the chorus. So thanks Sergeant Major of the Army Chandler for giving me a break so they are not thinking so much about the chorus, but what a phenomenal job the chorus did, so let's give them another round of applause. And I think even before they recognize the special awards and the lengthy speech that I was going to give they decided that they had better give us some kind of physical exercise to get some blood pumping, so that is why we all kept standing up to sing along with our Division Song and also to remind us why our Army is so great.Sergeant Major of the Army Chandler, former Sergeants Major of the Army, distinguished Guests, and most of all to our Non-Commissioned Officer Corps and Soldiers who are present, thanks for honoring me with the opportunity to join you here today. Welcome Soldiers and Non-Commissioned Officers. It is indeed a very, very special day that we get to honor our awards recipients who are the best of the best.I want to start by recognizing again a very special guest we have here today, our most recent Medal of Honor recipient, Command Sergeant Major Bennie Adkins. I had the good fortune to spend a good bit of time with him just about a month ago, and he truly exemplifies the courageous combat leader we seek to emulate. During the events of March 9 through 12,1966 when he earned the Medal of Honor, he led his team through 36 hours of grueling combat and risked his life multiple times to ensure his injured comrades were evacuated. Then Sergeant First Class Adkins led his team and evaded the enemy for over 48 hours in the jungles of the A Shau Valley, South Vietnam, after his Special Forces team was ordered to evacuate the base. During the battle he sustained 18 Combat wounds and is estimated to have killed between 135 and 175 enemy combatants. Five years later, after the battle in the A Shau, this resilient Green Beret returned for this third tour in Vietnam. So it is fitting that CSM Adkins is here with us at a ceremony where we honor our Army's best warriors.
It is likewise fitting that we recognize our Soldiers and Non-Commissioned Officer's of the year, and the winners of the Best Warrior Competition, at a conference themed "Trusted Professionals: Today and Tomorrow." The Best Warrior competition promotes the characteristics that have guided the world's premier Non-Commissioned Officer Corps through 239 years of Service and will describe our NCO leaders of the future. It tests traits like Character, Commitment, Competence . . . Discipline, Warrior Ethos, and dedication to Self Development. Self Development is the third pillar of our leader development program, and as described in ADP 7-0 it "reinforces and expands the depth and breadth of an individual's knowledge base, self-awareness, and situational awareness" end quote. A professional acknowledges his or her weaknesses, and focuses self study on critical areas to improve . . . just as I am sure our Best Warriors' journey to today prepared them to excel and exemplify their readiness to lead the Army into the future.
The Army is also studying how to improve, and this year's AUSA theme is all about our future. We will introduce the new Army Operating Concept and plan for Force 2025 and Beyond. These documents describe how we will transform the Army into a more agile, adaptable, expeditionary force that will provide our Nation with options to deal with the uncertain future. And we will be counting on this exceptional Non-Commissioned Officer Corps to digest, understand and communicate this vision to Soldiers across our Army . . . and then train our force to remain the world's premier landpower.
When I was a cadet at West Point in the late 1970s the Army was going through a similar transition and downsizing in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. We were learning how the All Volunteer Force would work and there was concern that it might not succeed. I remember distinctly that it was the Non-Commissioned Officer Corps that defined the culture of the All Volunteer Force, instilling the best of what they learned in Vietnam in the next generation of Soldiers and junior Officers. The Army they built went on to win in Grenada, Panama, Iraq in 1991, and the Cold War.
As we complete 13 years of courageous performance in combat, some forecast a world where demands for land power will decline. However, the increased velocity of instability in this uncertain world assures that our Army will remain busy as the foundation of the joint military force that is being called to act and preserve our freedom and protect our nation's interests. We are still at war in Afghanistan; remain watchful of North Korea and Iran, are engaging ISIL in Iraq and Syria; are supporting our allies in Eastern Europe; sending help to West Africa for the Ebola crisis; all the while we remain fully engaged across the Pacific theater. And we are doing all of this as the Law of our Land projects a defense budget with severe resource constraints.
Yet, I remain confident in our Army, because we have the deepest bench of combat experienced leaders I have witnessed in my three decades of service. These leaders at all ranks will pass on the lessons of the last 13 years of war, and instill Army Values in the next generation of Warriors. And they will remain ready to deploy, to answer the nation's call to duty, just as the lead elements of the 173d Airborne Brigade deployed to counter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. As we demonstrated, once again, the enduring impact of ground forces . . . nothing spells national resolve like the presence of a U.S. Army Soldier forward deployed. And here, in the Pentagon, in Washington D.C., you can count on us to remain engaged to keep this great fighting force resourced to meet the increasing global demand.
Deployments will undoubtedly continue as the world is changing at an increasingly rapid pace, creating accelerated instability, and great global risk. The speed of change is quickened by advances in technology, the rapid movement of information, and the acceleration of human interaction through mechanisms like the internet and smartphones. This makes the future more unpredictable and enables our adversaries to rapidly adapt. Technology will always be important and we will invest in the right systems, but we will focus on our Soldiers and on Leader Development, optimizing education, training, and performance. People who are empowered and resilient can adapt faster, particularly when equipped with effective technology-based systems. Force 2025 and Beyond requires small unit leaders decentralized from parent organizations to thrive in uncertainty, to adapt to their environment, to make critical decisions consistent with higher-level intent. Today, all across the globe, our Companies, Platoons, and Squads are engaging other cultures in order to prevent and shape a positive security environment, and training to sustain our readiness, so that, if required, we are postured fight and win our future conflicts as we have for 239 years.
These scalable, tailorable units of American Soldiers will deploy differently than we have over the past 13 years, where we operated predominantly with mature infrastructure. We will be an expeditionary force, deploying into remote regions like we did in southern Sudan and are doing today in Liberia, Jordan, Iraq, Malaysia and Indonesia just to name a few . . . sustaining ourselves and operating effectively, through distributed Mission Command.
As we execute this transition, we will apply an essential lesson learned from Iraq and Afghanistan . . . the importance of resilient Soldiers and Families. As we lead and adapt in this uncertain environment we will gain self-reliance, we will deal with adversity from a position of strength, we will achieve positive outcomes, we will adapt to change, and we will stay healthy and grow from the experience. Our Wounded Warriors are models of resilience in the face of extreme challenges. Soldiers like Colonel Greg Gadsen, Captain Dawn Halfaker, Master Sergeant Leroy Petry, Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, and Sergeant Thomas Block. These Warriors inspire us all to tackle the daily challenges we face . . . to learn from setbacks and grow stronger. American Soldiers . . . Trusted Professionals will learn, will adapt, and will
overcome . . . because our nation is counting on us, as it has for 239 years.
We have the most capable, specially selected Army in history. To ensure we are building the strongest possible Force, we must attract talent that reflects our diverse nation. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "Wide differences of opinion . . . must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted . . . if there is to be room for healthy growth" end of quote. Diversity invites different perspectives, and an array of talent and experience. To maintain diversity, we must ensure a culture of respect and individual dignity, free from any form of harassment or discrimination. This means we set the example as leaders of character and we inspire our Soldiers to intervene when necessary to stop activity that runs counter to our Army values. Leaders cannot tolerate an environment where Soldiers feel threatened. We are counting on you . . . the finest Non-Commissioned Officer Corps in the world, to instill and enforce a culture based on dignity and respect.To our Best Warrior competitors, you can be proud of what you have accomplished. The skills you demonstrated in the Best Warrior Competition are essential to keep us Army Strong as we take on more diverse missions with a smaller Army. You will mentor Soldiers who leave the Army as part of the draw down, an experience all of us will eventually negotiate successfully. The Army is committed to supporting its Soldiers as they transition . . . but the individual also has a responsibility to our Military and Society. Once a Soldier always a Soldier, a Soldier for Life, and just as our Best Warrior Competitors prepared for months to successfully compete, they will bring what they learned back to their units. Likewise, all of us, as trusted professionals, will carry our Army values back to American society, in whatever our future chosen vocation. We have in our midst a model Soldier for Life in Command Sergeant Major Bennie Adkins. After 22 year of service he retired and proceeded to earn his bachelor's degree and two masters' degrees. He established and managed a successful business for over 2 decades. All the while he taught night classes at Alabama's Southern Union College and Auburn University. Perhaps most significant though, is that he continued to serve his country. Command Sergeant Major (retired) Adkins lectured to the ROTC detachment at Auburn, the Infantry School at Fort Benning, and regularly visited our Green Berets in the Q-Course at Fort Bragg . . . a great leader and an inspiring Soldier for Life.
In summary, we are counting on you, the finest Non-Commissioned Officer Leaders in the world, to lead our Army into the future; to develop our Soldiers to thrive in an uncertain world, become more resilient, and build a culture based on dignity and respect. Take pride in our profession, train the next generation of Warriors, and exemplify to our nation what it means to be Army Strong! You are Trusted Professionals, Today and Tomorrow.Congratulations, God Bless you, and Army Strong!