By Shandi Dix, Fort Riley Public AffairsNovember 1, 2010
FORT RILEY, Kan. - Being a noncommissioned officer is all about selfless service, giving of yourself and understanding that your needs are secondary to those you lead, said Installation Management Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola, during a visit to Fort Riley Oct. 20 to 22.
"It means sergeants and corporals are taking care of specialists down to privates, it means that our staff sergeants are focusing their effort on their sergeants, corporals and on and on and on," Ciotola said. "It means ... you hold yourself accountable to basic tenants of being an NCO, being accountable and responsible for your Soldiers welfare, their conduct and their abilities; that you are going to make them more confident, and they're going to feel better about themselves. You're going to lift them up in their own eyes, and they're going to lift you up, and it's just a wonderful and empowering experience."
Ciotola visited the post to be the keynote speaker at the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division ball. During his visit, he also took the time to speak to noncommissioned officers of the unit, as well as the garrison civilian work force.
During an NCO professional development seminar, he explained to the Soldiers what it meant to be a member of the NCO Corps and what is expected of them.
"We're great because of our youth; we're great because we have a Noncommissioned Officer Corps in the Army that is second to none in the world. We possess a capacity on behalf of our officers to do the bidding of all officers and the American people, which is unparalleled in the history of humanity," he said. "We are the Noncommissioned Officer Corps we are today because of the officer corps we're afforded."
While addressing the civilian work force at the October Employee of the Month ceremony, Ciotola also said the greatness doesn't stop with those who wear the military uniform, it's also the civilians.
"Those of us that wear this uniform come and go, but there is an institution in and of itself which endures, which is always there, which if you think about (it) as a philosophical obligation to pass on everything that it knows and it learns," Ciotola said. "When you look at the American Army, you cannot pick out any one singular thing which makes it great, but without the workforce that I see in front of us, we would not ever be the Army we need to be in the eyes of the American people."
Many may ask the question, 'What is the reference library of the American Army,' he said, 'the thing that endures from one generation of Soldiers to the next''
"It's the civilian workforce and therein are the unsung heroes of what we ensure the continued relevancy of this institution in the future," he said.
Ciotola commended the work force for their contributing efforts to the installation.
"I really wanted to share with you a perspective that I have because, quite frankly, I think it escapes many of those who wear this uniform, and quite honestly, I really don't think you give yourself credit for it," Ciotola said. "First, it's not for us to provide a measure of ourselves - that's best left to others. You have been raised in the esteem of these men and women here in your command team and that's honorable, that's noteworthy, that speaks volumes of you. You're opinion of yourself only carries so much merit, but for them to go ahead and revel in you being recognized speaks volumes of your contributions, the essence of what defines you as a lady and a member of the American society, and it does all of you."
This visit was Ciotola's third to Fort Riley.
"This place takes my breath away. From a historical perspective, it allows me to go back to my roots," he said. "It's hard not to realize the significance of one's contributions and where we've come from as an institution when you get nested inside the old part of Fort Riley."
When Ciotola looks at Fort Riley, he said he sees capacity, not only in numbers, but also in the changing landscape.
"We fly in here to Manhattan ... five years ago that was nothing but open pasture and farm fields, and today, you see all sorts of small communities growing up in response to the increased permanent party presence of the 1st Infantry Division," he said.
Prior to the return of the Big Red One, Ciotola said he thought of Fort Riley as 'sleepy,' with only two brigades and one engineer group.
Ciotola commended Fort Riley for being an installation in which, "there's nothing the nation couldn't ask of this organization, this garrison couldn't accomplish, and that's powerful, and that's why we exist to do the nation's business."