FORT EUSTIS, Va. – Soldiers are the foundation of the Army and make a significant difference in improving the force. On Aug. 24, 2021, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston and staff sergeants from around the globe came together for the This Is My Squad Leader Panel forum, hosted by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
The forum was created for senior and junior leaders to come together and discuss the issues plaguing the Army. As participants in the panel, the staff sergeants were asked to share their perspectives through open discussions with senior leaders. Through research, experiences, and working in teams, these Soldiers were challenged to generate plans to make a positive change in the Army.
“Your insights will assist the Army on adapting our policies, processes, and programs to build diverse, adaptive, and cohesive teams that sustain readiness,” Grinston said.
‘This Is My Squad’ places the responsibility with leaders at every level to build cohesive teams that are highly trained, disciplined, and mentally and physically fit. It places an emphasis on putting people first.
During the forum, the 24 staff sergeants were split into groups to discuss prominent issues the Army is currently experiencing: sexual assault/harassment, racism/extremism, and suicide. They were tasked with using their leadership experience to find common ground surrounding these topics and propose plans of action to eliminate them throughout the Army.
“I don’t have all the answers, that’s why I am asking for your help,” Grinston said. “That’s why I am trying to push back so we can make a real change.”
In addition to the panel at TRADOC, two similar Soldier-driven events were hosted virtually with junior enlisted and officers as well as non-commissioned officers. The panel was one of a continuing effort by the Army to understand these issues from the point of view of all ranks of the Army in order to eradicate them from the force.
“It allowed me the opportunity to talk about how unit leaders can develop local programs to meet their unique needs.” Grinston said.
At the end of the event, each group presented their recommendations and how the Army can implement change.
After listening to the recommendations, Grinston lead a listening session to receive more informal feedback from the teams. He challenged the teams to think deeper into the topics of focus.
“The panel was able to come up with different courses of action, which might help educate and mitigate these behaviors,” said Sgt. Maj. Lisa M. Clark, Pentagon.
Everyone has a role in this process, “Our junior leaders understand that any change needs to be informed by the reality on the ground. By bringing in staff sergeants from across the force, it allowed me to understand their perspective and discuss ways the Army can support them. All of this is how we’re putting people first.” Grinston said.