With more than 200 years of service, the U.S. Army's Noncommissioned Officer Corps has distinguished itself as the world's most accomplished group of military professionals. In recognition of America's sergeants' commitment to service and willingness to make great sacrifices on behalf of our Nation, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren established 2009 as "The Year of the NCO."

Throughout 2009, the Army will honor NCOs through initiatives and events that enhance awareness and public understanding of the roles and responsibilities of today's NCO; and enhance and accelerate the development of NCOs through education, fitness, and leadership development initiatives.

We invite you to join the celebration of one of America's greatest assets, the NCO Corps, the "backbone of the American Army."

The Army's most senior leaders officially kicked off the Army's Year of the NCO Jan. 5 at Fort Bliss, Texas - home of the Army's Sergeants Major Academy. Secretary of the Army, Chief of Staff of the Army George W. Casey Jr., and Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston announced in a letter the three had signed that 2009 will be the "Year of the NCO" - implementing a year-long set of initiatives focused on better developing the service's noncommissioned officer corps.

"Today's NCO operates autonomously, and always with confidence and competence," Geren said during his address at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in October, where he unveiled the Army's plan to observe the Year of the NCO. "Our NCOs are empowered and trusted like no other NCO in the world, and most advanced armies in the world today are going to school on our model." Casey said the year-long recognition will focus on making enhancements to areas like NCO education, fitness and leadership. It is also meant to foster pride in service amongst NCOs and let the American public know what a "national asset" they have in the NCO Corps. Throughout the year the Army will implement several education initiatives to include the Army Career Tracker pilot and Phase 1 of Structured and Guided Self Development. The Army will also launch the Warrior University Web site, including the "College of the American Soldier" and will begin transformation of the NCO Education System.

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