By U.S. ArmyJanuary 30, 2015
Good morning. Thank you for joining us on this great day here in Washington, DC and Northern Virginia.
This is a great day for us to celebrate the incredible career of Sergeant Major of the Army Chandler. It is an opportunity for us to honor him, and to bid farewell to this dedicated leader who has served for nearly 34 years, culminating as the 14th Sergeant Major of the United States Army.
I'd like to first welcome some our distinguished guests:
Secretary John McHugh, Sir, thank you for being here and for your great leadership and your partnership. I appreciate it very much.
General Eric Shinseki and his wife Patty. The 34th Chief of Staff of the Army. Sir, Ma'am, thank you so much for being here.
General Dennis Reimer, 33rd Chief of Staff of the Army. Sir, thank you, as always.
Mrs. Holly Petraeus. Holly, thank you for all you do for our Soldiers and thank you for being here today.
Debra Allyn, the wife of the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. Thank you so much for being here.
All the Assistant Secretaries. Ms. Wada, thank you. Mr. Speer, thank you so much for being here and supporting us.
Dave Perkins, Commander of Training and Doctrine Command.
Sergeant Major, the 13th Sergeant Major of the Army, Kenneth Preston. Sir, thank you for being here as well.
Sergeant Kyle White, Medal of Honor winner, thank you for being here.
I also want to welcome the senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman, Sergeant Major Battaglia and his wife. Thank you for attending today, too. We truly appreciate it.
All other Sergeant Majors, Command Sergeant Majors, Senior Enlisted Advisors; General Officers. It is a great day. It's a great day to honor the Army.
I want to thank the Color Guard. I want to thank the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, Pershing's Own. As always, you do a superb job of representing the standards and quality of our Army. And you are able to showcase the professionalism that we see every day in our Army. You have the opportunity to show that discipline to much of America. So thank you very much for what you do.
We all know that being a Soldier also requires sacrifices, especially from those closest to you. And so I would like to recognize the Sergeant Major of the Army's family here today. His mother, Justine; Jeanne's Mother, Joan Zumski; and to the Sergeant Major's daughter, Ashley, who joins us from Colorado. I want to thank all of you and the rest of the family that is here today.
Sergeant Major of the Army Chandler and Jeanne Chandler have six children--Ashley, who is here, as I mentioned; Justin, Aaron, Eli, Amanda, and Michael. They have five sons and daughters' in-law, and twelve grandchildren, and they would be the first ones to tell you how important their family is to them. And I know that they are looking forward to spending time with them and to having the opportunity to visit with their family.
Sergeant Major and Jeanne, I know that you are immensely proud of your children and all that they continue to accomplish.
There is a legacy of service, as we find for most of our senior leaders within the Army. And I would always like to celebrate that family legacy of service. In this case, it reaches back generations.
Sergeant Major's father served in the Navy, and was a plank owner for the USS Saratoga. His Uncle Bob served in both the Navy and the Army, logging three tours as a pilot in Vietnam. Jeanne's father, Bob, served in the Army, fighting in the Pacific during WWII; as did her Uncles Ricky and Bobby, who were both Marines. So, as we honor Sergeant Major of the Army Chandler, we also recognize the service his family has given to this great Nation of ours.
As the Sergeant Major will tell you, family is why we are gathered here today--the Sergeant Major's admiration for Soldiers and the Army family has energized him throughout his career. Jeanne, you have stood at his side for so many years now, embracing the Army family and calling it your own.
She has been an active Army volunteer from the moment she met the Sergeant Major. She served as a mentor at the Pre-Command Course in 2007, where she advised spouses throughout the Army and encouraged them to get involved where families work and live.
She is a tireless advocate for the Army Family no matter what the subjects might be. She served on the Secretary of Defense's Family Readiness Council as an Army representative and carried forward the concerns of Army families time and again in numerous places and forums. Whether it be to the Secretary of Defense, to the Secretary of the Army, and whether it be those slight whispers she put in my ear every once in a while.
Jeanne has traveled alongside her husband all around the world to make sure she understood our families. To make sure that she could help and assist any way she could in ensuring that we do all we can to take care of our brave young men and women and their families. Jeanne, Linda and I deeply appreciate all that you have done. Our Army owes you a great debt of gratitude. Thank you very much.
And of course we are indebted to a great Soldier. The great Soldier that we honor today, Sergeant Major of the Army Chandler. Since 1981, he has served with distinction at every level from Tank Gunner to the Senior Enlisted Advisor in the United States Army. Sergeant Major of the Army Chandler has led our NCO Corps, the most respected Non-commissioned Officer Corps in the world, and he has done it with great distinction.
We all know that NCOs are the standard bearers of our profession, whether training our formations, leading in combat, maintaining discipline throughout the force, or caring for Soldiers and their families. Nothing happens in this great Army of ours without the tireless efforts of our NCOs.
They set the very foundation on which we build our Army. SMA Chandler understood this and worked tirelessly to ensure that, as an institution, we reinforced and developed the necessary fundamentals that are required in our NCO Corps. So it is truly a privilege to recognize the Sergeant Major and his long career of service.
From his first assignments as a young Sergeant, he has focused on standards and on demanding that leaders look to the future. In fact, in 1988, in an issue of Armor Magazine, then-SSG Chandler, who had been in the Army just a short period of time, wrote that "In this day and age of higher technology, isn't it apparent that we need to raise the standards … so that only those Soldiers who have that burning desire to excel be afforded the opportunity to do so."
Those words mean as much today, in a time of great transition in our Army and in a time of great uncertainty and dynamic change around the world, as much as when the SMA first wrote them for us. It spoke volumes about the importance of self-development, about constant learning; all of which the Sergeant Major of the Army took on in his current position. To make sure that we constantly continue to challenge and train, individually and collectively, our Non-commissioned Officers.
The Sergeant Major's assignment history is an inventory of units and locations around the world: 1st, 2nd, and 4th Infantry Divisions; 1st Cavalry Division; 3rd Armored Division; 2nd and 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiments; whether it be Fort Carson, Fort Bliss, and Fort Polk; Fort Hood, Texas; Tupelo, Mississippi.
Everywhere the Sergeant Major has been, he has made a decisive impact--in the Black Forest of Germany during the Cold War; along the DMZ in Korea; and in the deserts of Iraq, where he served as the Command Sergeant Major of 1/7 Cavalry.
For the past twelve years, the SMA has been a trusted agent of change in the most senior NCO ranks--a Battalion Command Sergeant Major in the 1st Cavalry Division; the Sergeant Major of US Army Garrison, Fort Leavenworth; and the Sergeant Major of the Armor School. And in what would have been a capstone assignment for anyone else, he became the first enlisted Commandant in the history of the US Army Sergeants Major Academy.
After watching the effects of a decade of war on Soldiers and Families, the SMA was driven to continue leading and mentoring our NCOs and our Soldiers. He was sworn in as the 14th Sergeant Major of the Army on March 1, 2011.
On that day four years ago, we were a larger force winding down the war in Iraq and surging in Afghanistan. Our forces had spent the better part of ten years deploying to these two countries. Don't Ask, Don't Tell was in effect, women were prohibited from a number of combat MOSs, and our Soldiers were still wearing their Army Green uniforms. We were not talking about sequestration and many of us had not heard anything about Ebola.
Four years later, we are a different and evolving Army. We are carrying out five named operations on six continents. We are a more agile force that is globally responsive and regionally engaged throughout the world. We have launched a new Army Operating Concept. We established a Cyber Center of Excellence, Cyber Branch, and Cyber MOS. Over the past 27 months, we have opened to women six previously closed Military Occupational Specialties and over 55,000 positions across our Army. In every change and every initiative--in response to every challenge--the Sergeant Major has been out front leading.
Sergeant Major of the Army Chandler has also been out front leading the Army as it combats the issue of Sexual Harassment and Assault. We now provide all leaders with the essential tools and resources for their training. We have dedicated SHARP staffs at every level down to brigade. Our NCOs lead in campaigns such as I.AM.STRONG, and throughout the Army as we continue to deal with this very difficult problem. Sergeant Major, thank you for taking the lead in changing our culture throughout our Army.
He has focused on strengthening our ranks through the Ready and Resilient Campaign, which provides tools for our Soldiers to better manage the rigors of our profession.
He has been a driving force implementing our Soldier For Life program--a program focused on a lifetime of service. Soldier For Life connects Soldiers, the Army, Government Agencies, and other Communities. It enables serving, transitioning, and retired Soldiers to thrive as vital, contributing members of our Nation. And as he often says, "Once a Soldier, always a Soldier."
Sergeant Major, these programs are vibrant because our NCOs have bought into them. And I want to thank you for that.
You have made an incredible mark on the Army that will resonate for years and decades to come. Thanks to SMA Chandler, NCO 2020 roadmaps professional development for non-commissioned officers. We will soon have a new NCOER, replacing the report the Army has used since 1987. And the NCO professional education system mirrors that of officers for the first time ever. This guarantees a cross-leveling of talent and an exchange of ideas throughout the Non-commissioned Officer Corps that strengthens our formations the world over.
The evolution of the NCOES has enabled the Army to develop innovative leaders of all ranks who will thrive in any situation we put them in, no matter how complex. Our NCOs now combine technical and tactical competence with operational and strategic expertise. This is your legacy, and you should be proud of that immense legacy.
He has led this transformation with a singular focus on professionalism. This meant a focus on personal and professional standards and living the Army Ethic. He understands that growing and sustaining quality NCOs requires a continued investment in them--whether as Corporals and Sergeants in charge of squads; or as Command Sergeant Majors at the highest echelons.
What makes our Army different from any other Army is our Non-commissioned Officer Corps. It makes us unique and gives us a substantial advantage. That is the mark of SMA Chandler.
Sergeant Major, you leave the active ranks knowing that your faithful stewardship has passed into the capable hands of those you have influenced through your mentorship and service. Today, the Army bids farewell to a dedicated Soldier and Leader.
Sergeant Major, you may be retiring, but I also know you are a Soldier For Life. And I know that you will champion the Army family and stand up for Soldiers everywhere you go. Sergeant Major and Jeanne, you have been an amazing team. Linda and I wish you both the very best in this next chapter of your lives and that you enjoy your well deserved retirement.
The Strength of our Nation is our Army.
The Strength of our Army is our Soldiers.
The Strength of our Soldiers is our Families.
And that is what makes us Army Strong!
Thank you very much.