FORT SILL, Okla. Oct. 8, 2020 -- The theme for the 2020 Fires Conference was “Achieving overmatch in large scale combat operations,” but as speaker after speaker reiterated, the message was clear: to win in this Army, you must put people first.Maj. Gen. Kenneth Kamper, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, opened the conference saying it is an exciting time to be in the artillery.“We’ve got just a tremendous amount of change going on in both branches as our Army focuses on figuring out how we fight in large-scale ground combat ops against a potential near-peer adversary,” Kamper said. “Although we’re in branches with highly technical systems that require tremendous competencies and technical skills, we’re a group of people, and there is a human dimension that is ever so important. We must not forget that it’s our people who put doctrine into action.”That human dimension was illustrated as Kamper and others shared their “Why I serve” stories. Col. Richard Harrison, Air Defense Artillery School commandant and ADA chief, shared his story as an example of how much one person can influence another’s Army path.“I met 1st Lt. Marlon James. He was a platoon leader in 4-3rd ADA. He had a maroon beret, he had a pressed uniform, he had spit-shined boots, he was the ultimate professional. He looked like me. I could see myself being a Marlon James one day.”Harrison did in fact go on to lead in 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery and said he wanted to be that same “Marlon James” for someone else.Tough topics like sexual harassment, sexual assault, racism, extremism, and suicide were openly discussed as Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston said leaders must keep their compassion toward their Soldiers while still holding them accountable for their actions.He shared a story in which a Soldier shot himself and survived.“When people go through adversity and bad things, we want to immediately do less as a leader,” said Grinston. He said he still cared for the Soldier as it was an obvious cry for help.“You’ve got to lead through the tough times. That’s usually the hardest part,” said Grinston.Gen. Paul Funk II, Training and Doctrine Command commanding general, said, “In my opinion, just like we have to go see the dentist, we all ought to have to see the behavioral health specialist once a year.”Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville concluded, “We get the people right, then our Army priorities will follow.”He said building cohesive teams is in every leader’s best interest.“If you’re on a patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan and you get in a firefight and you are being carried away by the Taliban, it’s in your interest to have treated everyone in your platoon or squad with dignity and respect because you want them to run through withering fire, just like Sal Giunta did, and come and get you, and save your life. That might be enough motivation to change your behavior and treat everyone with dignity and respect.”Rewatch the Fires Conference in its entirety at https://livestream.com/firescenter.