FORT BENNING, Ga. – Extremism and racism have no place in the Army and Army senior leaders are visiting installations to address the societal problems, called corrosives, affecting unit cohesion.
These corrosives are sexual assault, sexual harassment, extremism, racism and suicide.
Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, Army deputy chief of staff and G1, and Sgt. Maj. Mark Clark, Army G1 sergeant major, discussed these with Maneuver Center of Excellence students in Infantry Officer Basic Course and Advanced Leaders Course March 5 and Maj. Gen. Thomas Solhjem, chief of chaplains, visited Fort Benning to discuss a Life Worth Living in February.
Army initiatives to improve diversity, equity and inclusion and to recognize corrosive behavior in the ranks include Project Inclusion, This is My Squad and People First Task Force.
Brito told the MCoE students that more than 136,000 civilians join the Army each year – enlisted and officers – from every state and territory. They represent society and they bring societal problems – the corrosives – to the Army. It’s the Army’s job to teach the Army values of LDRSHIP: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless service, Honor, Integrity and Personal courage.
“(One-station unit training) and basic training are doing a great job of getting after this,” Brito said.
But as the Soldiers move to their first unit of assignment, it’s the junior leaders who have to ensure there is no room for these corrosives in the unit, Brito said.
“You will have to build cohesion, teams” that combat sexual assault and harassment, extremism, racism and suicide, which is part of Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston’s This is My Squad initiative – to build cohesive teams, he said.
TIMS focuses on being able to create a culture, in your squad, either as a platoon leader or squad leader to set the standard, to demonstrate the Army values within the organization, Clark said.
The sergeant major told the Soldiers, “You, as the squad leader, the team leader, can prevent some of these corrosives. … What we’ve learned from some of these reports … is there was a lack of presence – of leadership – that could have prevented some of these situations like sexual assault, suicide. Our goal is to put those leaders back in place, not only to have you physically present, but to have you engaged as a leader … to know your Soldiers.”
Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, commanding general of the MCoE and Fort Benning, talked about inculcating Army values into the recruits to replace the norms they’ve grown up with.
“They’re coming in to learn how to be in the Army,” Donahoe said. “We have to drive the Army values into them … We receive what society gives us,” he said. “It is up to us to train those behaviors out of them.”
There is no other organization like the military that takes a young person and transforms them in weeks, Solhjem said. The Army is a cultural organization that cares for its people – body, mind and spirit.
Solhjem said some Soldiers come from homes, others come from houses. Those aren't the same. Some have the substance of a healthy family life, others are looking to get away from bad circumstances and to make something of his or her life.
“What a tremendous opportunity to come into this Army and to know that you're cared for body, mind and spirit,” the chief of chaplains said.
Extremism, racism have no place in the Army, but “racism exists because we tolerate it. Right? Extremism exists because we tolerate it. Sexual assault and harassment occur because we allow it,” Solhjem said. “So it's really about accountability – holding people accountable for their actions. It's about a culture and environment where we don't accept or tolerate those things.”
Brito told the Soldiers the Army shares one commonality – the uniform.