FORT STEWART, Ga. -- Aristotle famously said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Many leaders strive to instill this philosophy in their own organizations. For Command Sgt. Maj. Jabari O. L. Williams, the senior enlisted advisor of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, his focus invariably has been on taking care of his Soldiers and ensuring they are combat ready as a whole.
“Being able to spend time with Soldiers and solve their problems is something that I've always enjoyed,” Williams said. “I always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and the Army is exactly that.”
Williams, who has seen many professional changes of responsibility over his 26 years of service, is about to experience one more. He is set to become the senior enlisted advisor for the 174th Combined Arms Training Brigade in February at Fort Dix, New Jersey, under the First Army Division East.
Williams is a native of Charleston, South Carolina, where he graduated from R. B. Stall High School in 1995. He entered the Army as an M1 armored vehicle crew member after he saw a “supercool video of a tank going airborne.” He joined at a time when Army recruiting focused heavily on the educational opportunities service provides.
“They were allowing Soldiers an exemption from duty if they competed in and won a board,” Williams said. “So I would do my military duty as a tank driver, then get boarded and go to school at night.”
Williams leveraged the Army’s value of higher education to earn his bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration with a concentration in leadership from Excelsior College, and he is currently working on his doctorate with Walden University in corporate finance.
Degrees are not his only distinguishing achievements. To a cavalryman, earning spurs indicates having earned one’s spot among the ranks. Williams earned five sets of cavalry spurs throughout his career while serving in the 3rd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment; 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment; 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment; 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment; and 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment.
Armor crewmembers work in teams of four and are required to operate fluidly together. Syncopation in their minds and movements is imperative for efficiency. During training, armor crewmembers perform a 45-minute exercise to assess its teams’ skills in precision driving and accurate targeting. Williams holds the distinction of achieving a "perfect" 1000 point run while serving as an armor crewman.
Williams has also served in every level of professional leadership as an enlisted Soldier, from team leader through brigade command sergeant major.
Notable as well amongst his Army experiences is the recent 2nd ABCT deployment to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The OAR mission is to provide a lethal joint force to defend the security of the nation and sustain American influence abroad. The 2nd ABCT provided heavy armor capability.
“To take a Brigade and deploy them from Fort Stewart, putting them on a port and execute operations in Europe, and going back to the unit history where they started in Germany, was just one of those things that was truly amazing to me,” he said. “I really want our Spartan Soldiers to know that they are part of a great history, and the efforts that they put in every day are going to continue that legacy.”
Williams is most proud of deploying 3,483 Soldiers and bringing them safely back home to their Families nine months later. He attributes that success to the hard work and dedication of his great leaders and Soldiers. His commander states that Williams was instrumental to that mission accomplishment.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Williams helped this brigade exceed all expectations and outperform at every level,” said Col. Terry R. Tillis, 2ABCT commander.
“His leadership helped the brigade operate within the European Command area of responsibility, successfully assuring our European partners and allies while aiding the deterrence of regional aggression.”
His leadership garnered praise from the senior-most leaders of the 3rd ID.
“I want to thank him for his service, the support of his wife Lynette, and their dedication to our Soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. Antonio A. Aguto, Jr. “He took a brigade through a very challenging mission which changed during its process of execution because of COVID-19. He quickly adapted, helped his leaders and his Soldiers throughout the original mission, the changed mission, and brought them home safely. His personal leadership ensured that through this experience they all returned better prepared for the challenges ahead.”
Williams lists many moments of his time as the brigade’s command sergeant major as personally meaningful. One poignant moment for him was arranging to have his Soldier’s family physically in attendance, despite the current global pandemic, while Sgt. Mary Cloninger received recognition as the brigade’s noncommissioned officer of the year. Another was establishing his unit’s quality of life council, where Soldiers' concerns were heard during a time of civil unrest.
Williams offered advice for the Soldiers of his former brigade.
“Take the challenge, make the change, take care of your Spartan buddy, leave no Spartan behind, supervisors are issued, and mentors are requested,” he said. “Enjoy what you're doing every day, because there’s nothing better than being an American Soldier.”
Williams’ new responsibilities will test his ability to lead as he takes charge of Army National Guard and Reserve Soldiers sprawled across seven different states and 11 battalions.
“I'm excited about the opportunity to continue to serve, protect, and care for our most precious resource-- the American Soldiers and their Families,” he said.