CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — The U.S. Army’s top enlisted Soldier visited the Korean peninsula for the first time in years, following a period of restrictive travel that cancelled previously planned trips.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston’s stop in South Korea on Nov. 22 follows a brief visit to troops in Japan, where he discussed the Integrated Personnel and Pay System, or IPPS-A, and other topics on American Forces Network radio. He will continue the trip Nov. 23 to see Soldiers at Camp Casey and the Joint Security Area at Panmunjeom before returning to Washington, D.C.
During the visit to Camp Humphreys, Grinston responded to questions from Soldiers and civilians at a town hall meeting with Soldiers and their families, visited barracks to learn firsthand about Soldier quality of life and participated in a reenlistment ceremony for a 2nd Infantry Division/Combined ROK-U.S. Division. During the town hall, he noted the importance of the Republic of Korea and U.S. alliance.
“We have to know how to fight together,” said Grinston of the importance of ROK-U.S. interoperability. “We have to know how to operate together. We got to know the terrain.”
Grinston added that maintaining an “ironclad commitment” with the ROK is necessary for the U.S. to ensure the forces of both nations remain strong and capable of mission success in the challenges they share.
During the town hall, Grinston spoke briefly about the future of the U.S. Army and how each Soldier, specifically noncommissioned officers, can help enable future success of the force.
“There’s one thing I ask all the young NCOs in this room,” said Grinston. “...be an expert at your job. Know the doctrine. Pull it out and actually read it. ... know Army programs.”
Along with addressing questions regarding quality of life for Soldiers who reside in on-post barracks and the future of the Army, he listened to suggestions to improve the linkage between Department of Defense Education Activity schools overseas and schools administered by local governments in the United States. According to one commenter, a challenge faced by students overseas are that gaps in information sharing between DODEA and stateside school districts can result in some students missing opportunities available to their non-military-affiliated peers. An example provided during the town hall was that scholastic achievement within DODEA schools was not always transferable to other school systems.
Grinston promised to take the input provided during the town hall and seek solutions upon his return stateside. He also asked that others who see areas for improvement to file Army Family Action Plan cases so that leaders can learn and track the status of problems.
“We need your feedback,” said Grinston.