Redstone's top enlisted Soldiers are pleased at the Army's tribute this year to noncommissioned officers.

The Army has named 2009 as the year of the NCO.

"I think it's an outstanding move," the Aviation and Missile Command's Command Sgt. Maj. Ricky Yates said. "I think for the Army leadership - the chief of staff of the Army, the sergeant major of the Army and the secretary of the Army - to present this year as the year of the NCO is very pleasing for the noncommissioned officers and recognizes what they're doing for the Army."

He attended a conference Jan. 4-7 at Fort Bliss, Texas, where the Army's top leaders expressed their regard for the NCO Corps.

Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Rickey Cooper agreed with Yates that the tribute by the service's leadership is well-deserved.

"It's about time they put focus on where focus needs to be," Cooper said. "The NCO and the Soldier are always the muscle of it. It's the NCOs' ability to make stuff happen. That's the key thing. You give us the mission and we're going to execute the mission."

Yates, AMCOM's and Redstone's top enlisted Soldier, entered the Army in June 1977. He made sergeant after a year and a half.

Cooper, the Garrison's top enlisted Soldier, has been an NCO for 27 of his 29 years service.

Asked what sets NCOs apart, Yates said, "In my view, the training and the quality of the NCO leadership and the values and the ethics, from the time they enter the Army to the time they become NCOs. And the way they train and mentor Soldiers to become noncommissioned officers and officers.

"It's their values, their ethics, their drive to be the best of the best and to accomplish the mission no matter what the mission is - whether it's taking care of a Soldier on the battlefield or taking care of a Soldier at home in a convalescent environment. To a noncommissioned officer, no task is too hard. He will accomplish it."

Redstone Arsenal has 545 noncommissioned officers. They serve in a wide variety of positions in many organizations on post. These include teaching and mentoring advanced individual trainees, instructing the basic NCO and advanced NCO courses at the NCO Academy, fielding equipment and weapon systems to troops, and assuring Soldiers receive the right product and the support they need to sustain it.

"I just think it's a privilege for me to be a noncommissioned officer," Yates said. "I had to earn it. Along with it, I had to get the respect. It's been an honor for me and a privilege to be a noncommissioned officer for as many years as I've been it."

Said Cooper, "For me there's no other job I'd rather be doing actually."

Noncommissioned officers teach, mentor and coach young Soldiers to become the Army's future leaders as NCOs and officers.

"Behind every good officer," Cooper said, "there's a good NCO."