CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait –U.S. Army Central’s command sergeant major led 36 other sergeants major deployed here with the various active-duty and reserve component units in a physical training session Sept. 12.
Command Sgt. Maj. Brian A Hester and the sergeants major divided up into teams for a competition executed round-robin style with exercises based on the Army Combat Fitness Test.
“I’ve been doing this since I was a staff sergeant,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Brian A. Hester, who was accompanying U.S. Army Central Commanding General Lt. Gen. Ronald Clark on his battlefield circulation.
After the competition, Hester called the sergeants major together in a circle to share his insights on being a sergeant major and the power of relationships.
“Now that you’re more acquainted with each other, you feel more comfortable talking with each other,” he said. “Each and every one of us met somebody new today—what I want to tell you about being a sergeant major is that relationships matter.”
“Every day, sergeants major need to use relationships to accomplish the mission,” Hester said.
“Some people might think this is gaming the system, but in the Army we have a lot of systems and processes—and what do systems do? They break, because of fog, because of friction,” he said. “We can fix those with relationships—relationships matter.”
Hester also said sergeants major need to make physical fitness part of their lifestyle, because every Soldier must be fit.
“It is the most important thing you do every day. It is not the most important thing you will do today—but, it is the most important thing you do every day,” he said.
When Americans see Soldiers, they want to see Soldiers who are lean, fit, disciplined, and caring, male and female, he said. “That’s what they want to see. Because then they know they have confidence that they are safe—that they are protected—that their way of life is going to maintain the standards that they choose.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Phelicea Redd, the senior enlisted advisor for the Fort Bragg, North Carolina, based 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, whose Soldiers staff 1st Theater Sustainment Command’s operational command post, said she appreciated to opportunity to meet other sergeants major here.
“This was a great team building event,” she said. “I met a lot of sergeants major that I haven’t seen before and actually got to learn the units they’re in, where their hometown is, what they do for a living—if they are not active-duty—back home. For those who are active duty, just talking about some career experiences that they’ve had.”
Command Sgt. Maj. David O. Nelson, the senior enlisted leader at the 401st Army Field Support Brigade, said the PT event built cohesion among the camp’s sergeants major.
“From now on, I might be just calling somebody,” he said. “I might have an issue with comms, or I may have an issue with a question for the medical community—you never know what the question might be—there’s Soldiers all the time that are running into issues and asking us to solve them for them.”
PT round-robin event emphasized being a team of teams
Master Sgt. Charles York, executive assistant to 1st TSC’s Command Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Perry III, and the noncommissioned officer in charge of the event, said the event was based on a similar event Hester led on his June visit to 1st TSC’s main command post at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
The six events were the deadlift, the hand-release-push-up, the sprint, the kettle-bell-carry run, the leg-tuck, and a 90-pound sled-drag, he said. Team captains and graders recorded the total repetitions for each team at each station for two complete rounds.
York began putting the event together a few days before the 5 a.m. Sunday start, when the call went out to the senior enlisted leaders at the camp.
York said he structured the event so that it emphasized the spirt of 1st TSC, which is ARCENT’s “First Team,” handling all logistics in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
“The First Team operates as a team of teams,” the master sergeant said.
The 1st TSC is comprised of units from all three components: Army Reserve, National Guard and active duty, and they all come together to accomplish the mission.
“For all of our missions, we don’t know if we’re going to get National Guard, we’re going to get Army Reserve, or we’re going to get active duty, but at the end of the day, the mission has to be completed, so we are a team of teams,” York said.
None of the 35 sergeants major, along with York’s boss Perry, knew who their teammates would be until after the master sergeant called off their names after they completed the Physical Readiness Training, or PRT, conditioning drills.
None of them were on the same team with someone from their own unit, York said.
“It builds on: ‘Guess what? This is what your mission is, this is what you have to accomplish, and this is who I gave you,’ because the Army does not give you a choice,” he said.
Virginia National Guard Sgt. Maj. Victoria Pridemore, who deployed here with the guardsmen of the 29th Infantry Division to staff Task Force Spartan, said the event gave the participants good physical training.
“I’ll be honest,” the Gates, Virginia, native said. “I have been dragging a little bit.”
Despite the rigors of the round-robin exercises, the sergeant major, assigned to Task Force Spartan’s judge adjutant general office, or legal section, said she enjoyed the competition.
“It was fun,” she said. “They had a good set up. It was hard and challenging and a nice way to start the morning with my fellow sergeants major.”
Sergeant major police call
When the competition was finished, the ARCENT command sergeant major told Camp Arifjan’s senior enlisted leaders to take one of the plastic bags being passed out, and to line up for a police call from the athletic field to the Zone 1 Post Exchange parking lot.
Following the police call, Hester called the sergeants major together for a final word about leadership.
Lucky7 said it is too often senior enlisted leaders are too busy and consumed by the mission to focus on the basics, such as picking up trash.
“We all have time to stop and do the little things, and when we do the little things right, we have the confidence that we can do the complex and the hard,” he said.
Hester emphasized the fact that it is important to focus on the fundamentals. Over time, the Army has tended focused on the complex over the fundamentals, but those basics are still important for success and to maintain the standards and discipline expected of our profession.
Hester said he understood that no one wants to pick up trash.
“None of us came into the Army to pick up trash, mow grass, none of that kind of stuff, but we are in the Army and we are an Army of standards,” he said.
“This wasn’t to degrade any sergeants major,” he said. “This was just an example of what we can do—and I guarantee you again—if you go out their and you do it, they’ll do it. When I stop to pick up trash from place-to-place, it’s amazing how I’ll see other people picking up trash—so please help me with this.”
Hester: These PT events, formations help synch leaders to Army’s priorities
Hester said he holds these types of sessions wherever he travels, and he has been indoctrinating Soldiers through physical training for most of his career as a noncommissioned officer.
“I started doing this when I was a staff sergeant, every day, talking to my Soldiers in a formation,” he said. “I did it at the platoon level, the company, battalion, brigade, so on and so forth.”
Through the years, the command sergeant major said his approach has changed, so that he can use the time with Soldiers to calibrate them to what the larger Army expects from them.
“I think it’s evolved in the synchronization of the messages from our senior Army leaders all the way down,” he said.
“When everybody knows what the priorities are, what the messages are, what the narrative is, and what we are working to accomplish, then everybody can be in line and can do that together, because we are an Army,” he said. “We win together. We fight together. We live together, and we can’t do this without each other.”