Jan. 6, 2015 -- CSA's remarks at Virtual Town Hall

By U.S. ArmyJanuary 23, 2015

Army chief of staff and sergeant major of the Army host virtual town hall
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Speaker: I am with the 503 Infantry Regiment, 173 Airborne Brigade. My question to you gentlemen is that due to ISIS pursuit to spread their ideology throughout the Middle East do you foresee the United States committing more ground troops for full spectrum operation within Iraq or Syria?

General Odierno: I think that right now our strategy is, which I think started to work actually, is for us to provide trainers and advisors to Iraqi Forces and Kurdish Forces in order for them to take the fight to ISIS because ultimately it is their nation, and they need to be the one to fight for it. We are working to also build a training program for the Syrian Free Army, who is also fighting ISIS. I think we are also going to start this year a training program to train many different units there in order to fight that. What will happen is ISIS will have to fight on many different fronts against the Peshmerga and the Kurdish Forces in North, Iraqi Security Forces from the South, and hopefully some of the Syrian Free Army from the West. We are starting to see some progress, but it is going to take a long time. I think that this is a 2-3 year process at least that is going to take us have some success.

Right now there are no plans to put U.S. Forces on the ground other than to do training and advising. I think that we are up to about 3,000 troops in Iraq that we have on the ground right now. We are still determining what number will be used to train the Syrians. So we will have to continue to assess that and play it by ear. I am not ever going to take off the table that we might not have to put some of our Soldiers on the ground fighting, but right now that in fact is not the plan and we are fairly happy about how things are progressing.

Sergeant Major Chandler: Sir, the only thing that I would ask is that readiness is the most important thing that you as a young Lieutenant and your Platoon Sergeant, if you have one, can do. I would ask that you ensure, based off of the resources that you have available, that your Soldiers are as trained as they possibly can be to execute the missions that we are going to ask you to do. If you focus on decisive action in making sure that your Soldiers have their kit, have their weapons, they can qualify with their weapons, they can in fact operate in a vague and ambiguous environment wherever we ask you to go whether that is in Eastern Europe as your recent experience or somewhere else in the world we will be successful in whatever it is that we ask you to do. Thanks for your leadership.

Speaker: My name is Sergeant David Messner with 1st Corps, and my question has to do with the Merit Army Helps program. In 2013 the law was changed so that the Army could recognize same sex marriages. However some of the people would have PCS'd before they were able to get married and now don't get the benefits while being stuck apart for years at a time due to the PCS policies. Has this ever been brought to your attention, and if so is there anything that you know of in the works?

General Odierno: I think the requirements for the same sex marriage are the same as for heterosexual marriages, and that is that you have to get married. There are probably instances where there are heterosexual Soldiers who PCS before they get married as well. It is incumbent on the two Soldiers to commit to themselves. Once they are married, we will recognize that with full benefits. Whether it is same sex or heterosexual it doesn't make a difference. We look at both the same. It is incumbent on them to get married and have a certificate that shows in fact that they have dedicated themselves to each other.

Sergeant Major Chandler: I think that is spot on, Sir, and I don't think that I can anything to that.

Speaker: I am Specialist Lason with the 2nd Brigade 82nd Airborne Division. My question is as operational expenditures overseas decrease, are we going to see an increase in training budgets to prepare for future operations?

General Odierno: Yes. What I would say and as the SM mentioned earlier, we are totally dedicated on ensuring training and readiness. We want to reinvest in the ability for us to do more complex higher end operations. We have now maximized our combat training center rotations. We are maximizing the number of rotations in California and, we have rotations in Germany to our training center there. We are fully funding those so that we can insure that units get the absolutely best training possible to prepare them for complex missions. In addition we want to increase the amount of home station funding that is available so that you can do the proper gunnery and other things that training and squad training depending on the MOS in order to meet our needs. That is our number one priority is to do that. We are not quite there yet, but we are working our way towards it.

Sergeant Major Chandler: The only thing that I would add to that is that you need to ensure that when it comes time to train that you are ready to train, and that you are motivated to train, and that you understand what we are trying to achieve in the training event. We cannot afford to squander a lack of preparation when we go to execute training tasks because money is tight, and money and resources impact everything else that we do in the Army. I would ask you as a young Specialist in the mighty 2nd Brigade 82nd Airborne Division to help your team be better, and your part is to be engaged and be ready to train to when it comes time to train.

General Odierno: What is going to be different as we go into the future is that over the last 12 or 13 years we knew that we were going into Iraq and Afghanistan. We knew when we were going to rotate and knew when the Units were going to be going. That has changed, and with the dynamic of what is going on in the international security environment the difference is that you have to be prepared to be deployed anywhere. Today we have Soldiers deployed in 5 different continents. We have Soldiers deployed to Europe to reassure our Eastern European allies. We have Soldiers deployed to Korea. We have Soldiers deployed in the Middle East. We just don't know what we are going to ask you do. It is really incumbent that we really focus on having a sustainable readiness capability that allows us to be ready. It puts more pressure on the Units to sustain a level of readiness in order to respond anywhere. For us we have to get back to that and I think that is what we are going to try to do over the next couple of years.

Speaker: Good afternoon gentlemen. My name is Sergeant First Class Joseph from the 316 Brigade. My question to you is about the QMP Board. How many more boards are there for this year, and due to the drawdown what is the plan of action for if we need more troops for the foreseeable future?

Sergeant Major Chandler: I can take that one on. The Chief just got a decision brief last month actually about whether or not we wanted to continue on the same board schedule or to defer the board until the later in summer. My recommendation to him and his decision was that we would stay with the board schedule for QMP. We do not want to maintain Soldiers who have misconduct in the formation. The Board starting with the Sergeant First Class Promotion Board and Master Sergeant and Sergeant Major will all have a QMP Board as part of the overall Board process. We want to maintain the best qualified individuals for discipline, live the Army's values, our ethics and belief in and part of the Army profession. If we have folks that have not done that in their career, shown a pattern of misconduct, then we really need to tell them thanks, but we no longer need them as part of the Army. That will continue long in to the future because we need to have a cleansing process in the Army to ensure that only the best stay. QSP is the Quality Selection Program, which has to do with the drawdown has been pushed off slightly to the right, and we don't need as many numbers as we thought originally. That process will maintain as long as we continue to draw the size of the Army down in order to meet the requirements that we have as part of sequestration.

General Odierno: The challenge that the SMA and I have is that we have to balance the Army in terms of end strength, readiness and continuing to modernize to make sure that we get the best systems, uniforms, weapons, etc. We have to balance that all together and determine what's the best way to do that. We want to keep as much end strength as we can but whatever end strength that is we have to make sure that we get the money to make sure you are properly trained and ready to do your mission and we are still able to give you good modernized equipment. That is the decision. Right now the decision is that we will continue to downsize until '18 till we get to 450,000 in the Active Component, 335,000 in the National Guard, and 195,000 in the US Army Reserve. We are heading down that path, and we will continue on that path until 2018.

Speaker: Good afternoon gentlemen, I am Sergeant First Class (inaudible). My question to you is with sexual harassment and sexual assault being top priority for the Army. Is there any guidance that we can get or training for Commanders to reinforce the standard for the Army?

General Odierno: I have a staff element that has dedicated itself to developing training materials for everybody to use. In my opinion the best training is interactive training where you are able to bring a group together and really just have discussions and facilitate discussions about why we have this problem. My opinion is that it is about not only sexual harassment but is about the profession. As Soldiers we should be taking care of each other and watching out for each other, but we should never have a Soldier attack another Soldier. That to me is unacceptable and incomprehensible actually. We have training modules available that gives you ideas to do scenario-based training that allows you to put out scenarios and then have discussions at the lower levels so that people understand how people are thinking and what the problems are. It is about culture, and we have to have a culture where it is just simply not acceptable for sexual harassment to happen in any form, whether it male on female, or male on male, or female on female. It is just simply something that we shouldn't accept as a profession. We expect more out of our Soldiers. We have to have each other's backs because of all the hard things that we are asked to do. We have to take care of each other.

Sergeant Major Chandler: The only other thing that I would add is that we want to get away from saying here are the exact things that you need to do. I think that at this point as an Army we should know, and leaders should know, what it is that we are trying to achieve and what we need to do to get there. You execute based off of your mission set using mission command to ensure that we are achieving our objectives. For me personally I believe this challenge can be greatly resolved and reduced if Soldiers recognize their true professional responsibility and their duty to their fellow Soldier. We are our brother's keeper. If we are not going to look at it in that manner, then we are going to continue to be challenged with this issue, but our duty is to one another. That is whom we fight for. We have to recognize that and move forward as an Army.

Speaker: Good afternoon, gentlemen, my name is 2nd Lieutenant Marshall, and I am coming to you from Fort Lee, and I am representing the 59th Ordinance Brigade. My question is for you both and is how do you balance such accomplished military careers with your family, and what is your advice for young military just starting out and balancing a family?

General Odierno: Thanks, that is a great question. It is something that you have to really concentrate on. I tell everyone that when I first came in the Army that I came from a very strong Italian background, and I tried to bring that in with me as I came into the Army. I always said that I put my family first, but we all know that sometimes in the Army we are asked to do things that simply don't put your family first, and you have to make sacrifices. What you can do, and I have been married over 38 years, and I have 3 children, and they are all grown and all doing very well. What we were able to do is when I was there we made it quality time. We put time aside and made sure that I always made time for my family. Whether I was a 2nd Lieutenant or whether I am a 4-Star General, I still put time aside for my family, and I made sure that it was quality time, and I stick to that. In order to be a good Officer, a good NCO, a good Soldier, you have to have balance.

You have to balance yourself between the dedication you have to show to your work, and you have to balance that with dedication to your family and being a good father and being a good husband or a wife or mother or sister or brother. It is important that you do that because that is the kind of qualities that we want, someone who cares about their family. For me it is important to look for that balance and understand that there are going to be times that you are separated because that is kind of what we expect, but when you are there together you make the most of it. My wife and I talk about this a lot, and we have over all the years that we have been married. I think that it has worked out really well for us. It is hard. It is not easy. It takes compromise on all sides, but it is possible, and your family is going to be there once you are done with the Army. It is important that you do as much as you can with that. I am one that believes that leaders need to set the example in making sure that they take the time to spend with their families and people see that. I try to do that as much as I can.

Sergeant Major Chandler: The only other thing that I would add is that real shortly, believe it or not, I am going to be retiring, and one of the proudest things about my time in the service is that I will be leaving the Army with my family. That comes with recognizing that you need to be able to communicate with your spouse, and you have to be open and honest about what you are going to be expected to do and what these jobs mean. As the Chief said, and I whole heartedly agree, when you make time for your family it has to be quality time. When I look back over my career most of my time has been with the Army from an hourly perspective. However, the times that I have taken for my family have been the quality times that I also cherish and remember. I think you just have to determine what your priorities in life are, and discuss that with your spouse, and then have open communication with one another to recognize that there are times that I have to go someplace. I am going to be gone. I have to go to school. I am going to deploy. I am going to a training center. When we get back we are going to set aside this weekend or this period of time, and we are actually going to do something together. We are going to maintain that bond between the ones that you love. You can do it. It is not easy, but if you are committed to your family, you will be able to find a way to make it happen, and that is what is important.

Speaker: Good afternoon gentlemen, I am (inaudible) in Korea. My question is with the activation of the 1st Armored Brigade with (inaudible) replacing us is likely that we will see Units overseas?

General Odierno: With the deactivation of the Brigade you are asking how that mission is going to be filled, is that what you are asking?

Speaker: Yes Sir.

General Odierno: First I want to thank you all because if my calculations are right it is 5am there. I really appreciate you all getting up early to do this. My guess is that you got up a lot earlier than that to be there. So thanks for doing that. The plan is that we are going to rotate Brigades over there. We are going to do it this year. It will be kind of like what we have done it in Iraq and Afghanistan all these years. A Brigade will go, and they will do a right seat ride, and then they will take over the mission. The reason that we have decided to do that is two-fold. One is the fact that what we are starting to figure out is that we were having some readiness issues because we were rotating 700-800 Soldiers every month out of 2nd Infantry Division. You are in constant training mode integrating new Soldiers, and so what we thought we would do is bring a whole Brigade over there that has already been training up for a year and prepared, and then what you have to do when you get there and sustain it. The other is that with the downsizing of the Army that allows us to downsize a little bit but still keep our mission focused forward in Korea. I am very excited about how it is going to work. We noticed that we started rotating a Battalion this year, and we think that is going very well and that was kind of a test. We are pretty excited about it.

Speaker: Good evening gentlemen, I am Specialist Lavern from 1st Battalion 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. My question to you Sergeant Major during your long career what were your guiding principles leading you to your position, and did you ever think that you would be in that position today?

Sergeant Major Chandler: Well no actually I did not think I would be in this position today. Actually I got asked three times before I actually competed. Whether or not I said that I did not want to compete because I couldn't find a way to balance what I was thought was important in my life and family and the requirements of this job. I had a mentor that came and talked to me about it, and that is when I chose to compete. I just didn't feel like I could commit to the job if I wasn't 100% committed to do it. I had a great mentor, a guy named Lou Tolini who was an American Samoan, a Vietnam Veteran who was at the twilight of his career, and he was my first Tank Commander, and Sergeant Tolini could not read. That was back in 1981, but he was a phenomenal leader, and he would have the crew conduct PMCS, and all the different things that we could do. He really took me under his wing and said hey, you are kind of a punk, and you don't really want to listen. If you will just listen to what I tell you, you will be successful in the Army. I think I dropped a road wheel on his foot right after that, and he was very upset with me after that, but I learned.

I had someone that I could look up to that inspired me to better than I was and to challenge me on a daily basis, and that leader I think, no I know, is what helped me choose the Army as my career. I knew in about 6 months that this is what I wanted to do because it was about the people and the leadership, and it filled a void for me which unlike the Chief, my mom was a sole parent, and I was a latch key kid, and I got into a lot of trouble when I was Sergeant Tolini did, and I attribute my success in great part to him and his leadership.

Speaker: My name is Specialist Maribello, and I am with HHB Bravo1st Corp. My question is a medical related question. Soldiers serve in a variety of austere environments when there are high concentrates of parasites in the local population. This risk extends to our service members. What can the Army do to combat this risk?

General Odierno: I think what we have to do is to understand that as you mentioned many places that we go are very difficult places that have pretty bad conditions. We have all been in those places. What we have to do is we have to have a very comprehensive way to take a look at our Soldiers. What we do is when Soldiers deploy someplace and come back, what we do is ask them to fill out questionnaires about their health and what they experienced. What we find a lot of times is they don't fill those things out properly. It is usually right when you get home from deployment, and you are in a rush, and you don't want to take the time. What is important for us is to collect the data so we understand what you have been exposed to, and then how we can monitor you to make sure that you don't have any health risks. In addition to that we have to be able to train those Soldiers to operate in austere environments and understand what you should do and what you shouldn't do, which decreases the risk of you getting infected with whatever disease it might be. That is one of the reasons why we give Soldiers shots. You know if you stand in line you get 5-6 shots. I tell everyone that in 30 years I think that I have gotten thousands of shots in my body, and I don't know if I can get any disease. I should be immune from everything. Part of that is because we collect data and that helps us to build up immunities to malaria and other potential sicknesses out there. That is why we do that. We have a comprehensive program of inoculation that we do. We try to understand the risks, and then we collect the information when they come back to ensure that they are providing us and letting us know what has changed in their lives physically so that we can follow up if we have to. That is why it is important that Soldiers fill out that information when we ask. Do we have someone from MedCOM? General Keenan?

Speaker: Ma'am do you have something to add?

Speaker: Yes I do. That is a great question, and you are exactly spot on. With our HA and PDHA we gather information from Soldiers about their exposure. We also had the Army Public Health Command located at Aberdeen Maryland that trains and sends out teams to train units before they deploy on the particular exposures that might be in that particular theater of operations. We take water and soil samples as well as other samples while Soldiers are deployed whether that be in a location like Sierra Leone or Afghanistan or Iraq or Kosovo. We take those samples, and we bring those back and test those, and we keep those samples so that we can determine what those exposures are whether it is the air, soil or water. It is very important that when you fill out your PDA's and your PDHA's that you are very accurate in what you believe that you might have been exposed to because we do take that data and analyze it, and we have that in a repository in Aberdeen. We also have on the website where you can pull down if you are deployed to a particular area information of what vectors and parasites that you might be exposed to. I will just remind everyone that because it is flu season please remember to wash your hands. That is the number one thing that you can do to prevent disease or the spread of vectors. We found that since Washington crossed the Potomac. Thank you.

Speaker: Thank you Ma'am. 82nd go ahead.

Speaker: This is in regard to the Culture Support Teams. As we are withdrawn from Afghanistan the training and selection for the Culture Support Teams was stopped. With the escalating situation in the Middle East, do you see any potential for those programs to be reinstated?

General Odierno: We obviously learned a lot from the Culture Support Teams. They did an incredible job. We eliminated quite a few, and we still have some training going on, but we have to constantly review that and see if that is what we need as we continue to get these new missions going forward. We have found them to be very helpful, and the ability of them to collect information and provide insights was invaluable. So yes we are going to constantly assess that and look at it to see if we have to reinstate that program. We will let people know as we make those decisions. That is a great question. In fact, I am going to ask that question and see where we are on this. Thanks for asking that question.

Speaker: Good afternoon gentlemen. My name is Staff Sgt Jones from the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. My question is about gender integration and females in Ranger School. In the next couple of months we will be having females enter into Ranger School, and my question is what would you consider as success? Would it be a percentage of females that graduate or the number of females that actually attend the school?

General Odierno: Thank you for the question. That is a great question. We are running a pilot as you just said over the next few months to do an assessment as to how well women do in Ranger School. We are just going to let the statistics speak for themselves as we go through this. The main thing that I am focused on is that the standards remain the same. We have certain standards for Ranger School, and those standards will not change. In order to earn that tab you are going to have to ensure that you do all the things necessary to earn that tab. We want to try a pilot to give women the opportunity to do that. That is what we are going to do, and then after that we are going to take a look at the data, and we will move forward one way or the other. We have not defined success. We don't know if it is 5 people graduating or a 100, or how many graduates. It is definitely not how many people start the program, but we want to do an assessment to see how does it go, and what did we learn from this, and then we will decide how we move forward. This is just a pilot to gain information for us to understand where we are, and how we use that data, and how we will make a decision on how we want to move forward. There are no pre-conceived notions on what the outcome will be.

Sergeant Major Chandler: My question to you Sergeant is what do you think about it as a instructor at the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, what are you specific thoughts about this pilot that we are conducting? What are you thinking, and how do you feel about women receiving the Ranger Tab?

Speaker: I feel it is a great idea, and I feel like this is something that should have come along years ago, and I feel like the group that comes through I believe will be very successful and the work that we put in here the Ranger will be ready to take on whatever comes through.

Sergeant Major Chandler: I appreciate your leadership on that. I think that it is important to recognize that all the Soldiers that are going to the Ranger School are meeting the standards as outlined in the Ranger Handbook and the Ranger Instruction. That is it. Whether it is male or female doesn't matter to us. What matters is that they adhere to the current standard and to see where we stand with the physical standpoint with our female Soldiers as we expand this opportunities for women in the service. I appreciate your leadership on that.

General Odierno: I just want to add that I have been impressed with the great work that has gone on down in Fort Benning with the Ranger Training Brigade in preparing for this. I appreciate the great work that has gone on down there. It is has been tremendous.

Speaker: Thank you sir.

Speaker: I am Specialist (inaudible) and I represent the 95th (inaudible) Brigade. My question to you gentlemen is in regards to tuition assistance. You mentioned that the Army is a profession. How do you feel about the recent changes to tuition assistance? Do you feel it is doing everything it can to educate our Army workforce?

Sergeant Major Chandler: We made the change last year with Army tuition. As you remember back in 2013 on April 8 we notified the force that we had terminated tuition assistance for the remainder of the fiscal year because of budgetary constraints. After Congress and the Army took a look at it, we decided to re-institute tuition assistance. However we also felt that there needed to be some control measures on tuition assistance. That was that you made a commitment to be a United States Soldier, and that you needed to prove yourself within your profession over your first year at your unit of assignment. You had to do the Soldier things that we expected you to do, qualify with your weapon, demonstrate physical fitness, continue to grow and understand your responsibilities whatever your MOS may be, and then after your one year period, you could in fact also take on the added benefit of using tuition assistance for college while you are on active duty or in the Army National Guard or Reserve. The real point of that was to tie your professional responsibilities to a benefit that you receive from the Army and for you to do something for yourself and on your own. We are a big advocate for tuition assistance for college. We are, and we believe that we have enough money, to sustain the program into the future, and that tied with your idea and recognition of your Soldier responsibilities, we can provide you with that added benefit so that you don't have to use your post 911 GI Bill. We did not reduce the amount of tuition assistance. We did change the amount of hours from 16 to 15, but we think that is reasonable in line with your duties and possible deployments. I think that we have a great plan, and I think it is time to understand your profession. We are very optimistic about the future with TA.

General Odierno: I would just add a couple of things. We want you to be able to prove yourself individual, and we want to give you that opportunity, and part of that is this tuition assistance program. Like everything else I don't think that we should just give it to everyone that walks through the door. You have to earn it through the first year, and if you perform and do all the things that are asked of you, then like the Sergeant Major said, you can take advantage of it the best you can. I think that is the best way to do it. What that allows us to do is the Soldiers earn it, and the ones that earn it can continue to develop themselves, and there will be plenty of money there for them to do what they need to do to gain their education. So in my mind it is the best way forward. We think it is really important for our Soldiers to have tuition available to them.

Speaker: Good afternoon gentlemen. My name is Staff Sergeant Balton from the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade, and my question to you is with deployments winding down the opportunities for junior enlisted Soldiers to get promoted it becoming more difficult. Is the Army going to re-look the promotion system?

Sergeant Major Chandler: No. Next question. Just kidding. We have a good promotion system. I would compare the promotion system that we have against any of the other services. We look at the whole Soldier concept. We don't just provide a test that tests cognitive abilities. We look at everything the person does to determine if they have the potential for future promotion. Your question about promotions becoming more difficult in fact almost directly ties to the challenge the Army faces to reducing the size of the force. We can't just terminate a person right away. We usually try to get them to through their ETS date, and as we reduce the size of the amount of people in the Army, and we reduce the amount of recruiting, they are not necessarily always in balance. It is what I would tell you. Any Soldier can be promoted to the next rank even if the cut off is 798, but it takes a lot of hard work, it takes self discipline, it takes an engaged leader to help them get to their full potential. Anyone that doesn't get promoted even if the score is 798 has some things that they can work on with their leader so that they can improve themselves even it is at 798, and we see is every single month. Even in those maxed out MOS's someone ends up getting promoted with 800 points. That is because they did everything that they possibly could at that time. Over time the challenges with high cutoff scores will come down as we rebalance the force and get down to the size of the force that the Chief described for 2018. Continue to work hard to get promoted, and continue to work with your leader to get those points that you need whether that PT, weapons, civilian education, and you can get there and we really want you to stay with us.

General Odierno: I really want you to understand what is happening in the Army. I don't know when you came in the Army, but in 2004 to 2012 the Army was growing. Because it was growing we were promoting people faster. Frankly I would make the argument that we were promoting people too fast because a lot of people were not qualified for the rank that they were getting promoted to. They didn't go to the schools that they were suppose to. They didn't have the experience that they were supposed to. Now that we are downsizing it might be a little more difficult, but it going to balance itself out to where it is the right level of training education and experience that allows us to have the best Non-Commissioned and Officers that we need. We were promoting Officers too fast as well. We had to because we were growing the Army. Now that we are downsizing, it has slowed a little bit, but it is still within our promotion norms of our promotion system. What we want to do is to promote the right people. We just don't want to promote people, we want to promote the right people. We want to maintain a strong Army, and what makes our Army different from any other Army in the world is our Non-Commission Officer Corps. We want to maintain high standards in our Non-Commissioned Officer Corps. We want to make sure that we are promoting those who are trained, who are experienced, and who will continue to lead in the future. As long as we do that we will do that in the future. There is going to be opportunity for promotion. The Sergeant Major and I fully understand that we cannot limit, and we have to have promotions. People want to move forward, and we are going to make sure the system allows that. It is not going to be as fast as it was 5 or 4 years ago because we were growing the Army, and frankly I would argue that we were promoting too fast.

Speaker: Good afternoon gentlemen. My name is CW (inaudible). I am in the Battalion Maintenance Tech for 38 CALV the 2nd Rotation Unit to Korea. We deployed over here with roughly 80% ENTOW strength personnel in the maintenance category, which drastically reduced our maintenance capabilities. My question is will rotational units continue to deploy in a TDY status or will something change in the future?

General Odierno: It is going to continue to be a TDY status. That is the system that we have in place now, but what we are going to work at is making sure that we deploy at a higher percentage rate and that it is somewhere above 90%. That is our goal to deploy every Unit going over there so you have the capability to do what is necessary. You know we have learned a lot from the initial rotation. So we are adjusting some policies on how we address these issues, and we will continue to develop over time. I get briefed quite regularly on the status of percentage of readiness, and how we are going to meet those readiness numbers as we go forward. For the most part it has gone well, but there are things that we have to correct. I think that you identified one of those areas that we have to watch a little closer to make sure that we are manning the skills at the right levels as we move forward. We are looking at that very closely. I appreciate the feedback actually.

Speaker: Good evening gentlemen. My name is Specialist Little from 2nd Battalion BRAVO 3rd, Infantry Regiment from the 173rd Brigade. My question to you is with the downsizing of the Army how do you believe this will affect the readiness and training of Soldiers for threats in the future?

General Odierno: Our goal, like I said earlyier, is to have an Army that is sized in a way that we can actually have a higher readiness level that we have had in the past because we are going to get smaller. As we get smaller I want to develop a readiness capability that is even greater than what it is today which requires an investment in training, an investment in leadership development, an investment in our schools to ensure that our leaders and our collective training that we do is fully funded. We are still about 2-3 years away from getting to the place that I want us to be in terms of having that right balance of investment in readiness. However, we are getting better, and we are better than we were last year, and this year we will be a little better. 2014 was better than 2013, and 2015 will be a little bit better than 2014. We are making progress in ensuring that we are increasing the level of readiness. That is our goal. Everyone asks me, and the best way to take care of our Soldiers is to make sure that they are prepared and ready to accomplish the mission asked of them to do. To me it is important to invest in that. We are going to continue to invest in that to increase the readiness and proficiency in all of our units. I realize that as we are in this time period of downsizing and reducing resources that we are a little out of balance right now. We are working as hard as we can to get ourselves back into balance over the next couple of years.

Sergeant Major Chandler: Specialist Little the only thing that I would add is I want you to think about trust and that the senior Army leadership is doing everything that it possibly can to ensure that you have the right tools to train and the equipment that you need so that when you are asked to go someplace like you were just a little while ago, that you have everything that you need to do your job and to do it well in whatever we ask you to do. I need you, and I would ask you and your team leaders and squad leaders, to talk about what can we control. We can control how well we can prepare, and how well we execute, and then after action reviews what are we doing. Is it actually tied to what the Commander has said that we need to focus on? If you are doing those things that you can control, you will be successful. The Army is committed to making sure that you are ready and that your unit is ready, and we will everything that we need to do to ensure that. However, at the point where the rubber meets the road, we need you to do your part of the bargain to make sure that it is quality training and that is tied to a task that your Commander has said is a priority and that when you get it done you look at to determine what we can do better next time.

Speaker: Good afternoon gentlemen. I am Staff Sergeant Hernandez with the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment 1st Corp. My question is for Sergeant Major Chandler. Did you meet or exceed the goals you set for your time as Sergeant Major as the Army, and what do you see your successor focusing on?

Sergeant Major Chandler: I believe that my successor will focus on what the Chief of Staff of the Army has said that he wants him to do. I was asked when I first became the Sergeant major of the Army what do you want to do? What do you want change? What do you want to do? Until you are the Sergeant Major, you understand the operating environment it is premature to say that I want to fix this or that or the other thing. I didn't have any specific list of tasks when I came up to the Office of the Sergeant Major of the Army that I wanted to achieve. I had to listen to what my boss said when he said these are the priorities that I want you to focus on and this is what I expect you to do. I am sure that General Odierno and Sergeant Major Daley will speak about that continually and move the Army forward, but my job is to serve at the pleasure of the Chief of Staff of the Army, and focus on those areas that he feels is a priority for me, and to help the Soldiers like you and listen to what your concerns are, and bring it back to the Army leadership so that it can form decisions. I can tell you with firsthand knowledge that the information that when I go out and travel and provide back to the Chief and the Secretary provides them greater awareness of what is on your mind. That is a big part of what the Sergeant Major of the Army has got to do. You have to listen to what the boss has to say like you do, and if it is their priority it is now your priority.

General Odierno: I will tell you that some of the priorities that I gave Sergeant Major Chandler and what I will give to new Sergeant Major of the Army is about 4 of them that I will quickly outline for you. One of them is as someone already brought up is I believe the elimination of sexual assault in the Army. Everyone needs to be involved in that. NCOs can have a bigger difference in that than anything else that we do I need the Sergeant Major of the Army to continue to help me lead in helping us to eradicate sexual assault. The second is to ensure that we continue to understand what the Army Profession is, and what it means to be a professional, and what we expect, and what are the ethics and moral values that we value in the Army that makes us different than anyone else in society. Those are two major things. Two smaller but just as important things is NCO 2020 and how we develop our NCOs for the future. The Sergeant Major has been helping me move towards select, train, and promote and get back to that. That is hard because we haven't done that over the last several years because the Army has grown so fast. For me that is critically important, and then the last thing is home station training. To really focus on home station training and that way our NCOs and our Officers focused. The Sergeant Major has said it three times since we have been sitting here. That is to make sure that you are making the most out of the resources that you are given and you plan for and conduct the best training possible for whatever element that you are responsible for. There are others, but those are the main priorities that I have given to Sergeant Major Chandler, and those will not change with a new Sergeant Major They take time, and I think there will be other things, but those are the things that you will see us continue to focus on.

Speaker: Good afternoon sir and Sergeant Major. My name is Captain Edwards. I am an assisting operations officer with the 194th Armored Brigade and my question is to you sir with the Army Separation Boards will there be any Officer Separation Boards in the near future and if so what are the target year groups and ranks?

General Odierno: They are going to continue be Officer separation boards over the next couple of years. I can't tell you the exact years we are going to look at, but I can tell you that we will not look at the same year group twice. We manage Officers by year group. That is the only thing different in Officers and NCOs is that you are managed year group, and we are at excess in some year groups. We are going to look at it. We are deciding now whether we look at senior Captains or Majors, and so we are taking a look at it. We are also trying to use other tools that we might have. We are balancing promotion selection rates with potential Officer Separation Boards, and we want to do a combination of both of those to determine how we reduce the force. I don't know the year groups off the top of my head, but I do know that if your group has been looked at our goal is that they will not be looked at again. Almost every year group from 2010 on is going to be looked at sometime over the 3-4 years.

Speaker: 82nd are you back with us? Alright, we will come back to you. We can't hear you right now so we will move on to USASOC.

Speaker: Good afternoon gentlemen. I am Sergeant Powertrain. My question is what are we doing to engage leaders to impose recent Army standards especially our young and mid-grade NCOs and Officers?

Sergeant Major Chandler: I didn't catch the question.

Speaker: Sergeant can you repeat your question?

Speaker: What are we doing to engage our leaders to enforce military standards especially our mid-grade officer and NCOs?

Sergeant Major Chandler: If I understand what you are asking what are we doing to engage mid-grade officers and NCOs in discipline and standards?

Speaker: Yes Sergeant Major.

Sergeant Major Chandler: I know that the Chief and I and other senior Army leaders travel frequently to engage with Soldiers across the Army to talk about issues they are presenting, and part of that is obviously enforcing discipline and standards. I think more importantly the Chief and I can get around to Fort Bragg once every 4 or 5 months maybe, but you are engaged with your leaders in more frequent forums on what it is that we need to do as an Army. I think that we know what the standards are, and we know what the discipline is in the Army. I think that we have got to do a little bit better job of actually executing as leaders those disciplines and standards as a leader of the force. You may be aware that I am on Facebook. I get a lot of questions about disciplines and standards and I try to respond to those but I think what is most important is to talk with the leaders that you work for and maybe one level above about the concerns that you might have in trying to get those answered. If you have a specific question I would be happy to follow up after we finish up.

General Odierno: If I could you have to remember that the Army is 1.4 million men and women. What we have to do is we have to believe in the chain of command so I have quarterly 2 and 3 Star conferences and the Sergeant Majors come to that. The Sergeant Major and I talk about what our expectations are with them and our expectations of what we expect them to do in terms of ensuring that we have the right discipline and enforcing standards and doing it with dignity and respect. We expect them then to take that and operate and use that for the Brigade Commanders and the Battalion Commanders and Company Commanders and our programs in place and have discussions about those. This also goes back to what I talked about earlier: select, train, educate and promote. I believe that we have some mid-grade NCOs and Officers that maybe did not get the training because we were moving so quickly in the war that we have to go back and ensure that they understand what is expected of them. We expect them know what the standards are and what it the right way to enforce standards. There is a right and wrong way to enforce standards. It is important that we constantly have that discussion. We continually update what we do in our schools, our NCO schools and our Officer schools. We talk about this as we go through that. I think all of those things are what we expect. That is part of the profession. It is having these discussions and talking about how do we execute and how do we enforce standards and discipline throughout the force. Those are key and essential elements of being successful as an Army as whole and as an individual unit depending on what unit you are in.

Speaker: Good day gentlemen, I am Captain Hanns with the US Army Transportation School. I would like to ask how you both see the Army's leadership shifting with policies and procedures due to the advances in technology where everybody can capture everything, the good, the bad and the ugly with their mobile devices. How do you for see that?

Sergeant Major Chandler: Sir, I know you want to say a little about that.

General Odierno: I think first off that everyone has to realize that the world we live in has changed significantly. Whether we like it or not everything that we do is more public, and information moves very quickly. We have to be able to be adaptive and operate in an environment where information is available in great volumes and to lots of different people. What we have to do is to develop leaders that feel comfortable operating in that environment, and develop individuals that move quickly in that environment and understand how to use the information for making decisions, and understand how to sort through it, and understand that we live in a very dynamic world today. That is not going to get easier. It is going to get more dynamic. What we are starting to do is to start in all the training program institute critical thinking, and understanding the use of information, and understanding how that equates in the Army and how we want to report. We also have to remember that we have to maintain basic standards and discipline. It has to be that right balance between this increase in information and the standards and discipline that we expect. It is a combination of all of those things and we have to learn this together as we go forward. We are absolutely focused on understanding the information and environment that we operate in, and we have to constantly change how we are training ourselves to operate in that. It is a challenge for me, and it is a challenge for a squad leader, and it is a challenge for a platoon leader. We have to understand how we operate in that environment.

Sergeant Major Chandler: The only thing that I would add real quick is that I think that one of the most important things that we have to recognize is that the best form of communication within the Army is with two people or others face to face or video teleconference like this. Sometimes we skew towards an email or a text message or something else where the intent of the person maybe lost in the words in the way the person may be feeling when they read them. I go back to mission command and the very important part of that which is Commanders dialogue, and the fact that you are suppose to come together, and have a face to face look at one another, and describe what it is that you need, and what it is that the mission is. If we lose sight of the fact that the passion, the emphasis, the face to face discussions provide that may in fact cause us to not be successful in what we are trying to do. I think those tools are very important and do make life easier in some ways, but they do make it much more complicated when you get to looking at 2-300 emails a day trying to figure out what someone is trying to say. Balance is important, but never lose site of the fact that looking at someone in the eye and talking is really the best forum we can use in the Army.

Speaker: Good morning gentlemen, this is Sergeant Roston with 38 CALV Rotational Unit. My question is why is it such a big push for uniform changes, and are we going to be issuing those out, or are we going to be doing like we did the ACU's and paying for them?

General Odierno: Uniform changes are important, especially the ACU's. I consider especially in the Army that ACU's are part of our system of protecting ourselves. We have to have the best system possible that allows our Soldiers to be protected as we deploy them around the world to conduct operations. We have done a significant amount of analysis that tells us that the ACU doesn't do very well in camouflaging us and protecting us in multiple environments. The multi-cam that we are using in Afghanistan does a much better job. So we are going to go to the multi-cam uniform. For me it is about protecting our Soldiers. Those are going to be issue. You have to wait for it to be issued. So if you are not patient, then Soldiers might go buy their own multi-cams, but they will be issued once they are available. It is dependent on how patient you are. I have been through a lot of uniform changes in my career, and Soldiers don't tend to be patient so they go out and by their own. They will be issued at some point and time.

Sergeant Major Chandler: The only thing that I would add is that issuing is going to take place if you are on a deployment because that will be a fire resistant uniform, but if you are stationed at home, and it comes time for your other ACU to wear out, you will be purchasing the uniform that you wear on a daily basis outside of deployment. That has happened throughout history. You have a clothing bag or clothing allowance every year, and there is a strategy on how that number is derived. If you want to know how that works go to the G-4 website and look on Army uniforms, and it will show you the clothing bag and the wear out dates of the items. That is why you get that clothing allowance every year. I am very excited about the replacement for the ACU. It is a much better uniform. It provides much greater protection for you, and I think you will appreciate it once you get it. We put a lot of thought into its design, and we have added some items to it that you don't currently have on the ACU that you are wearing. I think that you will find it to be a much better quality uniform than you have today.

Speaker: Hello Sir and Sergeant Major, Special Rothchild here with the 82nd Airborne Division, 2nd Brigade. My question is that there is still anything in the making for a new Army Physical Fitness test? If so what would this consist of, and when could we expect to see this change?

General Odierno: That is a great question. When I first became the Chief almost 3 years ago, they brought me a new physical fitness test, which to me was inadequate. I sent him back to the drawing board to do an analysis. What we are doing is frankly we looked at the qualifications of every MOS, and we now are starting to establish what are the things that we want to measure in a physical fitness test. I expect that in the next several months the Training and Doctrine Command will come forward with some recommendations. This is how I see it. I think it might still be a general PT test that might be similar to sit ups, pushups, 2 mile run, but then there will be a functional test by MOS that will focuses on what strengths you need to be in a certain MOS. We are still working on all of this so we are not sure. I am waiting for a recommendation to come forward based on 2.5 years worth of testing that we have done in order for us to understand physiologically when we go to war what are the requirements that we have to have to for someone to do their job under stressful conditions and what we want to be able to test to make sure that our Soldiers maintain a certain level of fitness. I think that will happen here pretty soon. I expect that in the next couple of months I will get some kind of recommendation.

Sergeant Major Chandler: A follow up to that is that we have done several things actually over the last 2 years in order to set the conditions to what we think we will go to next. We put the Master Fitness Trainer Course into operation, which I think has paid huge dividends right now. We are assessing what the actual physical demands are like the Chief said so that we can get after what is important. Can you do the physical task associated with you MOS? I think that will drive change across the force as we move forward over the next several years. I can see where things like the MAR2 or MEB processes start with can you meet the physical demands of your MOS, and if not lets see if there is another place where we can help you continue to serve, but maybe not in the same MOS. I think that will give us greater fidelity on the ability for the Army to put boots on the ground. We got to have a smaller force, and we got to have more people to get out to where we are going to deploy to, and I think that this will help us. If you have an idea of the Ranger Athlete Warrior Program or at the Ft Drum the Mountain Athlete Warrior Program, I am pretty sure that is what the Chief is talking about as we move forward. We want to get Soldiers who get injured back into the fight as quickly as possible and a big part of that will be the physically fitness program that we have.

General Odierno: I would just say that more important than the physical fitness test is the actually the physical fitness program that we want to establish that maximizes and optimizes the Soldier physical capabilities. That is what we have been trying to do and that is why it has taken us a little bit longer to come up with the right solution.

Sergeant Major Chandler: I appreciate this, it makes me a little uneasy because I am more used to everyone in the same room talking, but thank you for your questions, and thank you for your service, and thank you for your commitment to the Army and Nation. You are in the top 1%, and we really appreciate all that you do each and every day.

General Odierno: Thanks for the great questions. All of them were terrific. It is important for us to hear what it on your mind. So thanks for that. Again I want to thank the Soldiers in Germany and Italy who stayed up and got up early to be with us. I also want to thank the Soldiers from across our Army out of Fort Lewis, and Fort Bragg, and the 82nd, USASOC, Fort Benning, and Fort Lee. Thank all of you. You are what makes us who we are. I am proud to stand beside you every day. God bless all of you, and once again Happy New Year.

Sergeant Major Chandler: Army Strong.

End of Remarks.