Army Secretary John M. McHugh addresses the Army Profession Annual Symposium
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It's particularity good to see so many of our Army leadership, uniformed and civilian, as I look around the room and heard the [Superintendent] mention some names - of course, my partner and battle buddy, the Chief of Staff General [Odierno], the Sergeant Major of the Army, acting Under Secretary of the Army, former chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Fred Franks, all the assistant secretaries of the Army, leadership - I kind of deduce something really important is going on here and I think it speaks for itself.

There are few things, as you heard the [Superintendent] allude to, that are more important to maintaining the faith and trust of the American people, of maintaining faith and trust within our ranks, than the topic of our Army profession and what that means writ large.

And the good news is that a lot of hard work has occurred over the last several years to bring us to this moment, to this gathering in this one room. Obviously, we wouldn't be here if there was not some work to be done … we're not there yet. But thanks to the contributions and the leadership of many of you, we have made some great strides. We expect right here, over the next several days at West Point, we're going to build upon that and really use it as a final determinant turning point. Because it's now time to put all of our words, all of our [regulations], all of our policies into real action.

Now, if you had a chance to be here in the past, as I suspect many, if not most of you, have. Or if you had a chance to look around during this, if this is your first visit, these pretty beautiful surroundings. But in spite of that, I know none of you expected to kind of kick back over the next 48 hours or so -- and believe me, we're not going to disappoint you in that regard at least. We really are not just asking, but really in need of, and expecting your full participation. We need to have you contribute, positively I hope, but very actively in our discussions.

Because when we're done here, the [Chief of Staff] and I and other in senior leadership are going to be relying upon you to carry the message, go back to your organizations and start implementing these concepts that we'll discuss here over the next couple of days, throughout every rank and throughout every unit. Because like just about everything else in the Army, that's where and when the real work gets done.

Now hopefully you all had a chance to look at the materials that Col. Vermeesch mentioned, and had a chance as well to become familiar with some of the documents, particularly the revised publication that came out just last month on the Army Profession. As I hope you noted, it contained a chapter about your ethic -- our Army Ethic.

I think it is rather remarkable this is the first time in our Army's history, that there has been an articulated ethic. It kind of sounds like a physical malady -- an articulated ethic -- I know, but to state the obvious, it's important. This ethic is simply intended to inform and inspire every single member of the Army Profession, all of you in this room, to motivate and to guide -- yes, your decisions -- but also your everyday actions.

And as I said, a lot of hard work has led us to this point -- many of you here today played an important part in all of that. Just a couple examples - the [Chief of Staff] issued a white paper last summer, a historic paper really, that defined the need for an Army ethic and really began the march that has brought us here to this point. And as you heard mentioned, he led the symposium here at West Point last year that many of you in uniform and a few of you as civilians participated in, as I did as well.

We had a follow-on meeting after that West Point get together back in Washington in November, and we did that for our senior Civilians. Also, Lt. Gen. Steve Lanza hosted a Junior Leader Symposium at [Joint Base Lewis-McChord] earlier this year in February which included 100 junior leaders including NCOs, officers, warrant officers and Army civilians. Then a few months ago, some 100 majors attending Command and General Staff College participated in yet another forum. All of these events and others, helped to review and discuss the Army Ethic, and they each provided valuable feedback, insights and recommendations for its ultimate implementation.

The folks right here at CAPE - the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic - have been out on the speaking circuit conducting Army Profession seminars all across our ranks. They facilitated discussions at each of these seminars and symposia which validated that ethic, and validated it as an accurate expression of what Soldiers and Civilians aspire to be as Army professionals. So, the revised document that we released last month is a culmination of all that effort, all that hard work, and all that input.

We've already discussed the importance of being a profession, and nobody needs to impress that upon all of you. You understand how the Army is a Profession. But as a reminder, we define your Army Profession by its essential characteristics: Trust, Honorable Service, Military Expertise, Stewardship, and Esprit de Corps. It is our shared responsibility, each and every one of us who are members of the Army Profession, - General Officers, senior NCOs, senior Army Civilians - to continuously strengthen the Army Profession within that culture of trust.

All of you pursue an incredibly noble calling - honorable service to defend the Nation. And in this tradition, you become citizens whose Character, whose Competence, and Commitment exemplify the ideals espoused by the Army Ethic. In living by and upholding that Army Ethic, you become trusted Army professionals.

So now it's time, as I said, to take the next step. Today and tomorrow, we'll focus on our shared responsibility as strategic stewards of the Army Profession. What does that mean, strategic stewardship? It means we are responsible, all of us, for setting priorities, enacting policies, managing resources, establishing programs, and designing systems that provide for our people - your people - the Army Family. All of that sound familiar? Sure it does. It's what you do each and every day, in your everyday jobs.

But as stewards of the profession, all of us - each and every one of you - have a broader responsibility to continuously strengthen these essential characteristics in all things: everything you do, every decision made, every policy signed, every order given. What we - what you do - affects the decisions and actions of every other member of our Army, at every rank, every grade, in all [components] and cohorts, throughout the total force.

So, what are those strategic steward responsibilities that best ensure the Army remains a trusted profession? Within both the institutional and operational Army, what are the enablers that effectively maintain and strengthen trust? What are the obstacles? These are some of the questions that we'll be exploring right here over the next two days.

And remember, as I said in my opening comment, this isn't just about maintaining trust within our own ranks, it is ensuring trust with the American people. Because that's truly who we truly serve. To put it very simply, trust is the foundation for everything we do.

As senior Army leaders, we all have the privilege, we all have the honor, and we have the responsibility - the duty to be strategic stewards of our profession, setting the conditions for success as this Army, and all of you as individuals, move forward.

Now we're going to get, in a moment or two, to the meat of this morning's kickoff. The [Chief of Staff] and Sergeant Major of the Army are going to talk next about that ethic and its application in today's Army.

So thank you again so much for all of you for making the effort and taking the time to be here. It's important, and your presence is appreciated. I look forward to hearing your thoughts -- yes over the next couple of days -- but also when we all get back to our jobs in the Pentagon or wherever else that may be.

And if I could, the [Superintendent] mentioned if there's anything he can do -- well, I'll leave him with this: Supe - Go Army! Beat Navy! That's all we ask.

Thank you.