FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (Jan. 30, 2016) -- Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey is becoming something of a folk hero among a new generation of Army Soldiers.

As the Army's youngest sergeant major in history, it may be a narrowed age gap that gives him an advantage in speaking to - and hearing - the voices of the next generation of leaders.

Dailey began a three-day tour of Fort Campbell, Jan. 27, where he met with and listened to 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Soldiers. He spoke with Soldiers from each brigade about some upcoming initiatives expected to affect the Army in the near future and wanted to hear their feedback.

"You, ladies and gentlemen, are the future of the Army," Dailey said during a town hall. "The most important thing to focus on is you. We're going to make sure that you're managed appropriately with regard to the talent that you have."

After a brief introduction highlighting some of the initiatives that Soldiers will see implemented in the near future, Dailey opened the floor for discussion.

Soldiers responded well to the open-forum. They asked a lot of questions, and Dailey provided a lot of answers. Common themes among their questions were concerns about drawdown effects, policy changes and the ever-changing promotion system, which according to Dailey, is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Dailey said that although promotion standards will not change, promotions will begin to move along, as senior noncommissioned officers, or NCOs, will see a two- or three-year reduction in the time they are allowed to serve.

"We have some of the lowest promotion rates that we've had in a while. We have to retain that mid-grade NCO because you're the continuity," Dailey said. "We're going to reduce those [retention control points] back down to where they were. It's going to stimulate promotions and it's going to offset the drawdown with regards to managing our personnel."

That initiative received good feedback, especially among junior NCOs in stagnant occupational specialties.

"He wants to see us progress," said Sgt. Dustin Fry, an aircraft electrician with Company D, 6th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. "He wants to integrate our generation into the military."

Fry explained that much of his generation's strengths will remain undiscovered until they can implement them at a higher level.

"We are a new generation of people; everything is electronic now and everything is changing and he sees that. Yes, it is a new Army, and he wants to see it become better," Fry said.

During another discussion at the Staff Sgt. John W. Kreckel NCO Academy, Spc. Kamisha Lowrie, a helicopter armament, electrical and avionics systems repairer with Company B, 96th Aviation Support Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, voiced concern for Soldiers exiting the Army with little accreditation for their military qualifications.

"We have veterans who can't get jobs simply because they can't transfer their military training in the civilian sector," Lowrie said.

Dailey gave insight into an initiative that will provide Soldiers with more civilian accreditation based on their military training. Although a system exists in which the American Council on Education awards college credit for military experience, Dailey explained that the new initiative would allow the Army to award college credits based on Soldiers' experience level, eventually awarding a master's degree upon graduating the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.

The initiative also aims at providing Soldiers, who choose to leave the Army, a civilian-equivalent certification so they may have an easier time finding similar work outside the military.

Dailey said Soldiers should expect to see this initiative take shape in the near future.

After a few popular overhauls already implemented, including the Army's tattoo policy and the integration of black socks, the future looks favorable for junior Soldiers.

"His mindset is listening to the Soldiers and hearing what we want and what needs to happen," Fry said. "You hear a lot of NCOs talk about the new Army in a negative way but his focus is on the new Army and making the Army better and that's what makes him different."

"I'm extremely proud that I joined - knowing that I have great leadership at the top," Lowrie said. "Before, I thought of the SMA basically as a figurehead, but now I see he really is hands on, wanting our questions and going in depth and giving us a genuine answer lets me know that he's not just a figurehead, he's actually doing."