WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 14, 2014) -- "Whether it be along the DMZ in Korea, the mountains of Afghanistan, the deserts of Iraq, the plains of Eastern Europe, the savannahs of Central and West Africa, there stand our nation's trusted professionals," said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno.

The chief delivered the keynote address at the Association of the United States Army's Dwight D. Eisenhower Luncheon, today. During the event, he explained to attendees what it means to be a "trusted professional."

This summer at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Odierno hosted Solarium 2014, a gathering of some 100 captains from across the Army. Their goal was to come up with a number of solutions to a range of issues facing the Army.

One of the things they were asked to do was to synthesize the essence of what it means to be a Soldier. The captains came up with "Trusted Professionals -- Today and Tomorrow." That resonated with the chief as well as with other Soldiers and he decided to make it this year's AUSA theme.

"Our young men and women believe in that concept, that we must be this nation's trusted professionals. It's incredibly powerful when we have young leaders who understand the importance of their role and what they will mean to the future of our nation. And every day, our Soldiers exhibit characteristics of trusted professionals."

He then named men and women Soldiers, young and old, from around the globe who have exhibited the competence, character and commitment in their everyday duties -- traits that define trusted professionals.

Medal of Honor recipients, as well, he said, exhibit what it means to be trusted professionals, including Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie Adkins, an 80-year-old Vietnam veteran, who asked the chief twice to re-enlist. Adkins then stood to the ovation of hundreds attending the luncheon.

Last week, Odierno said he had the privilege of visiting competitors in the Best Warrior Competition, held annually at Fort Lee, Virginia. There, he said, is where the "best of the best" competed in a number of events.

Soldiers competing in the Best Warrior Competition were judged not only on their tactical competence but also on their demonstrated character and commitment, he said. "Their determination, dedication and professionalism was, frankly, inspiring.

He then recognized the Best Warrior winners: NCO of the Year for 2014, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Carpenter, an engineer with 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado; and, Soldier of the Year for 2014, Spc. Thomas Boyd, a cryptologic linguist with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 500th Military Intelligence Brigade, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

"Wherever and whenever duty calls, our nation depends on the trusted professionals of the U.S. Army," he said. "Because of that, I stand here today, proud to wear this uniform."

The chief then challenged everyone to convey the message of the trusted professionals to every American.

LEADER DEVELOPMENT EMPHASIS

"Our No. 1 priority is, and will continue to be, leader development," Odierno said. Leader development and "optimized Soldier performance" is directly linked to the Army's ability to operate in the future.

The Army must develop multi-dimensional, adaptive and innovative leaders who thrive in dynamic, interconnected environments, he said.

To accomplish that goal, the chief said he's focusing on building resiliency, battle skills and values in entry-level Soldiers. "This will enable them to succeed in the Army and after they transition."

For NCOs and officers, he said there's a push to broaden education opportunities not just in the school houses but with such things as professional fellowships and training with industry.

As well, he said the Army is constantly refining the NCO development model to deliver optimized training to ensure they have the right tools to lead in today and tomorrow's dynamic world.

He then described that dynamic world as a place where enemies will increasingly "deploy traditional, unconventional and hybrid strategies to threaten the U.S. security and vital interests."

Besides nation states acquiring weapons of mass destruction and using sophisticated means of cyber attacks, he continued, trans-national terrorists and criminal organizations will also be on the offensive. The speed at which information gets shared globally enables enemies to more effectively create trouble.

The new Army Operating Concept, Odierno said, provides a blueprint for the way ahead in a complex and dangerous world. It describes the Army's contribution to global interoperability with the joint force and partners. This will provide the "intellectual framework" to build on going forward.

Odierno also addressed the looming budget crisis for the Army.

He described his repeated testimonies to Congress on the impact of budget reductions and diminishing end strengths. "These miscalculations translate directly into increased military risk. And frankly as I stand here, military risk is accumulating exponentially."

Instead of subtracting dollars and manpower, now is the time to be adding, he said, pointing out that seven of 10 Army division headquarters are currently deployed around the globe in support of combatant commands.

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