By Crystal Lewis Brown, Fort Jackson LeaderMarch 23, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Taking care of families topped the list of priorities Maj. Gen. Richard Longo, TRADOC's new deputy commanding general for Initial Military Training, shared Tuesday during a visit to Fort Jackson.
This was Longo's second visit to an IMT installation since taking over as DCG-IMT March 9.
"In the long term, what I really want to do is take a look at how we're taking care of families. I'm concerned of the impact of not just 10 years at war, but then bringing these families into an organization where we ask of their husbands and wives so much," Longo said, referring to Soldiers who often transition straight from a deployment to an IMT environment. "The top priority is going to be looking at these families ... the pointy-end of the IMT spear, and making sure that we're taking care of them."
IMT cadre often work long hours, sometimes making it difficult to spend time with their families. Spouses and Soldiers frequently are surprised at the time commitment involved in the IMT environment, especially coming off the heels of a deployment. That concern is not lost on Longo.
"When you consider that their husbands or wives just returned from a deployment, and then we sent them to Drill Sergeant School, and we moved them to Fort Jackson or Fort Sill or Fort Leonard Wood, and we sent their husbands and wives onto the drill sergeant trail, and then we told them to suck it up ... I think we can do better.
"With families, we have to do two things. No. 1, we have to tell them that we care and No. 2, we have to show them by doing something. It's not enough to say that we care, we've got to show them that we care," he said.
As DCG-IMT, Longo has oversight over the Army's five Basic Combat Training locations, and the two dozen Advanced Individual Training locations.
Already, Longo is brainstorming ways to take care of families. In a briefing with 16 Pre-Command Course students, Longo stressed how important it was to ease cadre stress, thereby easing stress on the families. He urged the brigade and battalion commanders and command sergeants major to come up with ways to ensure that cadre members don't burn out, and that they have time to spend with their families.
Longo also touched on continuing the training initiatives started by his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who is now the commander of U.S. Army Europe.
"I think immediately, being the new guy on the job, (my plan is) to continue the momentum that Lt. Gen. Hertling established while he was on this job. And that is the new Army PT manual, piloting the new Army PT test, the new way we're doing combatives, the new way we're doing rifle marksmanship, all those things."
Hertling began addressing improving Soldiers' physical fitness and standardizing marksmanship training soon after becoming the first DCG-IMT in 2009.
Though Longo still has to tour other IMT installations, he said he is already impressed with the gravity of the mission.
"I think it's an incredible organization with a very important mission of turning American citizens into Soldiers, warriors and leaders. At this stage, I'm just going around to all the posts, seeing what's going on before I can even think about making changes.
"Our biggest responsibility is that we're turning young Americans into Soldiers and we have to take that very seriously," he added.
During his time at the PCC, Longo addressed students' questions and gave them some insight into his long-term goals. Taking care of Soldiers and recognizing stress were among the list of topics he covered.
"We have to deliver to the operational Army the best Soldier we can," he said. "If you accomplish nothing, instill values in your cadre and these young Soldiers."
Lt. Col. Scott Heintzelman, director of Victory University, where the PCC is held, said that he thought the exchange was a good experience for both Longo and the students.
"It is important for future IMT leaders to hear from the DCG-IMT in order to get his guidance and understand his expectations of them," Heintzelman said.
So what can IMT expect from Longo' In a word, values.
"What I expect from (Soldiers) is that they just embody the Army values. If they do that, if our young Soldiers learn nothing else (but) how to live those values, then they will have done their part.
"And what they can expect from me is to do the same; to hold myself to the same standard."