FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston visited Fort Campbell Aug. 3-4, to observe Soldier training, and discuss topics ranging from Army readiness in a COVID-19 environment to inclusion and diversity and his initiative “This is My Squad” with Soldiers.Grinston’s visit also included stops at the 160th Special Operations Regiment (Airborne); 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Soldiers’ barracks, Blanchfield Army Community Hospital and The Sabalauski Air Assault School.At TSAAS, Grinston spoke with the Soldiers training there and discussed his experiences in the Army as well as his hopes for a more united Army through Project Inclusion and This is My Squad.“The goal of This is My Squad is to change the culture of the Army,” Grinston said. “We need to really understand the people sitting next to us. We truly need to know the ins and outs of a person so we can make a stronger Army. The term squad is an endearing term, my Family is a member of my squad, they know me. They know me so well, if something were to happen, they know my strengths and my weaknesses and how to support me.”This is My Squad asks units to focus on the personal aspects of each Soldier’s life, truly getting to know each other and placing emphasis on a collective team mindset among Soldiers.“In my opinion, all of the issues with racial injustice and bias is because we don’t take the time to ask questions,” Grinston continued. “A step forward is asking someone how they grew up. I think a lot of it could go away, if you just stop to get to know each other. Positive leaders who truly knows their Soldiers will be a better leader. I know changing the culture is difficult, but I think we can do this.”This is My Squad also ties into Project Inclusion, an Army initiative to improve diversity, equity and inclusion across the force. The effort includes Armywide listening sessions with Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians to examine racial disparity; diversity and inclusion training within military education, and assessments of racial disparity associated with military justice among other things.“In my opinion, Project Inclusion is part of This is My Squad and I’m really passionate about it,” Grinston said. “Project Inclusion is one of the lines of effort to give you a voice on the installation. We need to be better at listening, and if we find areas we need to work on, we can adjust our military education. It’s really looking and listening to things we can change, even if it’s areas with unconscious bias. One of those areas is the removal of photos from promotion boards because we’ve found inherently people gravitate toward people who look like them.”Grinston also participated in a Facebook Live Town Hall in the evening of Aug. 3, sitting on a panel alongside Maj. Gen. Brian Winski, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell, and Command Sgt. Maj. Bryan Barker, 101st Abn. Div. senior enlisted adviser.“It’s great to be back with the 101st,” Grinston said. “Every time I come here I feel welcome. Not everyone gets to be the SMA during a global pandemic. It’s trying times, but as the chief of staff of the Army says, trying times are the opportunity to define who we are as a nation. It’s a tough time, but there is plenty of opportunity for leaders to show we are here for Soldiers and their Families.”The panel provided a COVID-19 update for Fort Campbell and its surrounding communities and discussed topics ranging from inclusion, answered questions related to COVID-19 precautions and its impact on training, and the upcoming JRTC rotation for 2nd Brigade Combat Team.“At Fort Campbell we had an elevated case rate over the course of June and into July,” Winski said. “Mid-July was the high-water mark, and the good news is we have had a steady seven-day decline over the course of the last week. The total number of cases are going down, which includes the 100% testing of the 2nd Brigade Soldiers heading out to Joint Readiness Training Center later this week.”Winksi said one Fort Campbell Soldier has been hospitalized because of COVID-19 complications but is responding well to treatment and is expected to be released soon. A Family member of a retiree also has been hospitalized. Thankfully the number of individuals requiring hospitalization have been really low throughout the pandemic, he said.Some community members voiced their concerns about the effectiveness of the precautionary measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the installation.“I think all of the measures put into place come down to individual responsibility and accountability,” Barker said. “We can put all the measures in place and restrict everything, but if people don’t abide by the guidance we put out, it’s all for naught. The masks work, social distancing, physical distancing are key to preventing the spread. Large social gatherings and traveling to areas with high rates are where we are seeing our increased rates of COVID-19. Where we are not seeing increases of COVID-19 cases are training. We visited our Air Assault School today, there hasn’t been a single case there since they reopened two months ago, and it’s because we have measures in place and leaders enforcing those standards.”Grinston said he believes the measures in place at Fort Campbell are effective.“From my perspective coming here, I’m fairly pleased with seeing people wearing their masks and staying apart,” Grinston said. “So far, I can tell you these practices do work, and from what I’ve seen on the installation you all are doing what you should be doing.”Some Family members expressed concern for the health and safety of Soldiers participating in JRTC at Fort Polk, Louisiana.“We are absolutely not sending COVID-19 positive Soldiers to JRTC,” Barker said. “It would be foolish to send someone down there to potentially infect more people. The Soldiers are quarantined until their results are in. If they are positive, they are placed into isolation and will not attend JRTC unless they are medically cleared and the training is still going on.”More than 4,000 Soldiers in 2nd BCT who will participate in the upcoming JRTC rotation have been tested for COVID-19 in pools of 10 Soldiers. Each pool is assigned a number, and the 10 collected test swabs are tested at the same time. If a pool comes back negative during the first test, the entire pool is cleared to move on to the JRTC rotation. If a pool is positive for COVID-19 the entire pool of Soldiers is retested individually to determine who in the pool is positive.“Less than 2% of those tested have come back positive,” Winski said. “Most of those Soldiers showed no symptoms and when the test revealed they had COVID-19, they were placed in isolation.”The Strike Soldiers who are going to JRTC will be screened twice a day during training for COVID-19-related symptoms.“Our sacred responsibility is to take care of the Soldiers in the 101st and all of Fort Campbell, and part of that is training,” Winski said. “You have to be trained and ready, and that is what JRTC does for a unit when the unforeseen calls comes.”The town hall concluded with praise for the medical professionals and spouses who are working around the clock to care for Soldiers and their Families on the installation.“The frontline workers have done an incredible job,” Grinston said. “I can honestly say, I think some of our frontline workers are our spouses. More now than ever, as we deal with uncertainty in everything going on, the spouses have been steady. You are working, trying to take care of the kids and support the training like with JRTC. I appreciate all you do for your Soldiers during these trying times.”