By Mike Strasser, West Point Public AffairsMay 19, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. (May 19, 2011) -- The Army's senior enlisted advisor made his first visit to West Point May 9 to speak with noncommissioned officers and learn about the training programs and products developed at the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler met with senior noncommissioned officers-most from the Department of Military Instruction and the Brigade Tactical Department-and asked them their opinions on a variety of Army issues like diversity and "Don't Ask Don't Tell."
"We say that we're a diverse Army and we have a diversity policy; we also have a sexual harassment and assault reduction program that says we're not going to tolerate this," Chandler said. "So what are we actually doing about it' As an NCO, we're going to get the job done, we're going to talk about these things but then it comes to a point when we need to start moving out. From my perspective it's time to start moving out."
If NCOs are tasked with promoting diversity, Chandler wants to know what they're doing rather than what they're saying.
"That may cause some folks to be uncomfortable, but that's OK," Chandler said.
One topic which sparked the most conversation was about Army uniforms.
"You know, Soldiers want to be proud of what they wear," Chandler said. "They want to look like a Soldier, and they want to be comfortable in what they're wearing."
An article recently published in the Army Times generated plenty of debate about whether the black beret should remain standard issue and if buttons are better than Velcro to maintain noise discipline in the field. That discussion continued soon after on Chandler's Facebook page where he hopes more Soldiers will provide feedback.
"I absolutely expected the immediate response we got about uniforms; it's an issue that Soldiers, as long as I've been in the Army, have always wanted to talk about," Chandler said. "Soldiers have a voice and I want to hear those voices and bring it back to the senior leaders of the Army."
After receiving a briefing at the CASE office on the Profession of Arms campaign, Chandler said this was an opportunity he hopes every Soldier takes advantage of throughout this ongoing dialogue.
"We've been under a tremendous pace, almost a frenetic pace over the last 10 years," Chandler said. "As the time we've had between the time deployed and the time we're home expands, it's a time for us to sit back and reflect on what it is that's happened over the past 10 years, and really what the term professional means and what it means to be a member of a profession to a Soldier. So I'm excited about it. I think it's a great opportunity for us to take advantage of it, and I'm sure we will."
The former commandant for the Sergeants Major Academy, Chandler has spent his first couple months as SMA making the rounds at installations, but said it's taken him nearly 30 years to get West Point.
"But I'm very glad that I've finally gotten here," Chandler said. "This is a fantastic place. It was a pleasure to meet those senior leaders of the class about to graduate; it's a huge reinforcement of my belief that the Army is going to be OK. We are OK and we're going to get better."