FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston discussed how to build cohesive teams and how to win during the third and final day of the Maneuver Warfighter Conference here Sept. 12.

On the subject of building a cohesive team, Grinston encouraged ownership of units by their Soldiers, which he summed up in the phrase, "This is my squad."

"When you build a cohesive team, I want you to say 'This is my squad,' " he said. "That has ownership, and that builds a positive attitude. I want everybody to say, 'This is my squad.' Do you want to be THE division commander or do you want to be MY division commander?"

He wanted the mindset of unit ownership to permeate the command structure. Grinston said that for noncommissioned officers, it means things like regularly visiting the barracks and the dining facilities to know how Soldiers are living and eating.

This was part of Grinston's "People First" priority, in which he also brought up the permanent changes of station, in- and out-processing, and sponsorship. On the subject of sponsorship, Grinston said it means more than fulfilling a requirement.

"This is not about changing a chart from red to green," he said. "Sponsorship is about taking care of your Soldiers and how you receive them into your highly trained, disciplined and fit organizations. It's making sure they are well received, that they understand the physical standards, that they understand the training that you are going to provide at your leader time training. And they're going to understand all the deployments they're going to (make)."

Grinston was appointed 16th sergeant major of the Army Aug. 9, 2019.

"We have the greatest noncommissioned officer corps the world has ever seen," he said, concerning his fresh tenure as sergeant major of the Army, "and that is not going to change on my watch."

He attributed the success of the noncommissioned officer corps to the trust the officer corps has placed in its NCOs.

Grinston emphasized the value of training the fundamentals to the auditorium of Army leaders. He brought up the Expert Soldier Badge to the audience, which was announced by the Army June 14, 2019. Grinston then asked the audience how many of their units had the ESB scheduled for their unit, remarking that only one audience member raised their hand.

"If you want to be a highly trained unit that's disciplined and fit, then you probably should start with the basic warrior tasks that every unit has done," said Grinston. "When you get to your units, you have folks in your organization that need to know those tasks. I don't care what unit you're in, you need to know your warrior tasks and battle drills."

During his presentation, the sergeant major of the Army further emphasized the roles of sleep and nutrition in addition to physical activity in keeping Soldiers physically fit.

Toward the end of his session, Grinston spoke further on the theme of ownership.

"I am proud to be your sergeant major," said Grinston. "I'm the sergeant major of the Army, but I am YOUR sergeant major. ... I'm really proud to be a part of this organization, and I'm really proud to be a Soldier of the United States Army."

To see the video from this event, visit https://vimeo.com/fortbenningtv/sma.

To see photos from this event, visit https://www.fortbenningphotos.com/Maneuver-Center/Warfighter-Conference/Annual-Maneuver-Conference/2019-Maneuver-Warfighter-Conference/2019-Day-3-Maneuver-Warfighter-Conference.

To read more stories from the Maneuver Warfighter Conference, visit https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/ManWarCon or www.army.mil/benning.