FORT RILEY, Kan. – Senior noncommissioned officers from across 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley gathered for a conference to discuss upcoming changes and plans for the division September 19-21, 2022.
The event, titled the Big Red One Solution Summit, was held to review short-term initiatives for the upcoming year and to start implementing long-term strategic plans in support of the Commanding General’s priorities.
The event was hosted by 1st Infantry Division Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher L. Mullinax.
The summit consisted of participant-led discussions on the roles of current senior noncommissioned officer-level leadership, future programs and goals they hoped to enact or alter, ways to promote retention and recruiting, as well as guest speaker forums.
“All the sergeants major came together, as well as some additional personnel, and tried to frame some problem sets,” said Sgt. Maj. Santantonio Smith, the noncommissioned officer in charge of retention for 1st Infantry Division.
The participants were divided into five teams, a few of which would be selected to pitch their plans and suggestions to the commanding general and command sergeant major.
Guest speakers at the event included Kansas State University baseball head coach Pete Hughes, and the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy Commandant and former Big Red One Soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Rickey Jackson.
Hughes spoke on how to build a winning organizational culture and work ethic. “Find a common goal and surround yourself with winners,” Hughes said. “Have a play-to-win mentality.”
Hughes received a plaque that had the Creed of the Noncommissioned Officer engraved on it, and a book about leadership signed by the participants as a token of gratitude for his contribution.
The senior leaders capped off the event with a motivational morale run along the Republican River just outside of post. The event was well received by its participants. Some participants, such as Smith, even hoped to see similar events occur into the future.
“We need to do this more often,” said Smith. “It’s very powerful when leaders come together, especially noncommissioned officers, to solve the problems presented to us.”