WASHINGTON D.C. (Oct. 9, 2023) – The top enlisted leaders from both Reserve components embarked on a journey down memory lane, unraveling the revival of the iconic motto: “Be All You Can Be.”
Command Sgts. Maj. John T. Raines, representing the National Guard Bureau, and Andrew J. Lombardo, of the U.S. Army Reserve Command, orchestrated this nostalgic discussion, set against the backdrop of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
The torchbearers used this as the first Reserve component meeting of the Association of the United States Army 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition.
The five-member panel included Javier O. Orona, public affairs specialist for the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, U.S. Navy, and Army Reserve retiree; Spc. Luke D. Harrison, 2023 Soldier of the Year, Army National Guard; Michael S. Buscher, Army Reserve Ambassador and executive director of Fortem Technologies; Master Sgt. Christopher Sehy, a recruiter out of Utah for the National Guard; and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jax Scott, of the Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities and 3rd Battalion Army Reserve Careers Group.
A catchphrase etched in the memories of veterans and service members from the ‘80s and ‘90s, this motto had made way for the “Army of One” slogan in 2001, followed by a few more taglines until it returned full circle.
As the session commenced, old and new Army commercials set the stage for candid discussions on the historical, contemporary, and prospective dimensions of the messaging behind this motto.
The panelists delivered a multi-faceted exploration, touching on recruiting, retention, morale, and the overarching identity of the U.S. Army.
Lombardo said the essence of the motto embodies the idea that every Soldier can reach their full potential both in and out of uniform. “One of the unique aspects of the Army Reserve... is that you don’t really have to choose between military service and a civilian career,” he said. “You can do both.”
This slogan carries a hefty dose of nostalgia for many, having served as the cornerstone of Army recruitment for over two decades. Simultaneously, it provided fresh insights to newer generations of soldiers who had never encountered it before.
All in attendance, veterans and newcomers alike, resonated with the timeless catchphrase: “We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day!”
The panel leaders underscored that it was more than just words; it was a call to action, an invitation to explore one’s potential across all Army components.
Raines delved into the need for interoperability and modernization across Army components, emphasizing the importance of messaging to inspire soldiers while advocating for a level playing field in terms of budget and training.
“When we ask a unit to go and do something, they are interoperable with the people they find themselves with on battlefield to the left and their right,” he said. He said he likes to ask the question: When do we finish modernizing? “Never! We’re never going to be finished modernizing.”
The session segued into a pertinent question about how the Army could better connect with young Americans and shape its future. Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, who was in the audience, probed the panel to consider a singular change that would bridge the generational gap and resonate with American youth.
“It wasn’t as simple as just coming up with a new motto from the Army of ‘Be All You Can Be’ and (it) solved all of our problems. We increased pay, we got better living conditions for soldiers, we provided more education benefits. It was a program of programs,” prompted Jensen, director of the National Guard, to the panel. “You get to change one thing – policy, practice, procedure, culture, approach… One thing that you would change in the Army that would help us better connect with the young men and young women of American to build a better Army.”
The ideas spanned integration and consolidation of components, updating grooming standards, increasing budget and training opportunities, offering greater flexibility in drill schedules to accommodate the work-life balance preferences of millennials and Gen Z, and empowering lower-level leaders to enhance training and foster innovation.
At its core, the revival of the “Be All You Can Be” motto stands as a timeless emblem of the Army’s dedication to excellence, personal growth, and self-improvement, according to the panel.
An unexpected highlight unfolded as Chief of Army Reserve and Commanding General, United States Army Reserve Command, Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels, took a brief intermission to promote four members of the 2023 Best Squad Competition team. This surprise moment underscored the Army Reserve’s commitment to its personnel, spotlighting the talent and dedication within its ranks.
The team of soldiers, all from the 416th Theater Engineer Command out of Darien, Illinois, included: Sgts. Conner Houseman and James Ranstead, who were promoted to staff sergeants; Spcs. Hayse Jorgensen and Peter Martin-Jimenz, who were promoted to sergeants; and Pfc. Vincent Wentorf, who was promoted to specialist.
In a world in perpetual flux, the Army’s mission remains steadfast – to empower individuals to “be all they can be” and to shine as a beacon for generations to come. For those interested in watching the forum, it’s available on the USARC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usarmyreserve under the “Command Sergeants Major Seminar at AUSA” link.