Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III took time out of his busy schedule to visit with Soldiers Nov. 15 at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Junior Leader Forum at Fort Sill, Okla.

TRADOC convened the Junior Leader Forum in support of the Army Profession campaign, which began just over a year ago under the direction of the secretary of the Army and the Army chief of staff. Its purpose, according to the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic, is to "take stock" of the profession and to examine both strengths and weaknesses to better prepare the Army for the future. CAPE further describes the campaign as an "introspective opportunity for both Soldiers and civilians to shape the Army of 2020."

Chandler agreed with this direction, saying that "Our junior leaders can help shape the future of the force really by understanding that they have a responsibility to be engaged as professionals." He went on to define further the concept of a professional as "a person of character, someone who's committed, and someone who has the competence to do the jobs we ask you to do."

During the four-day forum, junior leaders (enlisted, officers, noncommissioned officers and warrant officers) from across the Army helped validate findings through focused group work on ways to improve the Army. CAPE's director, Col. Sean Hannah, calls these "Army Profession Strengthening Initiatives," many of which were identified previously in the Profession campaign.

Chandler noted that the Army has initiated a requirement at each of the noncommissioned officer academies to "discuss the profession … and what it means to be a professional Soldier." He also said the Army has asked units to do the same in professional development forums. To "drive the conversation," Chandler said the Army feels case studies have considerable value. Those case studies, he explained, might focus on "acts of valor" or "where people have strayed and not met their responsibilities." The goal would be to stimulate dialogue about "what it means to truly be a professional," Chandler said.

The four-day event is part of a larger series of seminars called Unified Quest. According to the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) Future Warfare Division Chief Col. Kevin Felix--the lead for UQ--it's the Army's "primary mechanism for exploring the challenges and operations the Army will likely face in the future. ARCIC, under guidance and direction from TRADOC, oversees the program.

One of the key areas Chandler focused on was the issue of trust and how that related to the concept of the Army profession. Chandler said "the American people have placed trust" in professionals such as lawyers, doctors, and members of the clergy. "That same trust," he said, "is applied to the American Soldier."

"Once you start to talk about the profession that way, Soldiers start to see it and understand it and really kind of feel it." Chandler said.

Before he departed, Chandler thanked the group of junior leaders for their work and asked the junior leaders a rhetorical question: "Do you walk the walk, or do you just talk the talk?" He then asked the leaders to "develop [subordinates] to understand what the walk actually is."

Hannah commented on Chandler's presence at the forum: "By being here in person, and through his powerful remarks, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Chandler portrayed to every junior leader … how important he and the chief of staff of the Army feel this dialogue on the Army Profession is to the future success of our Army. He [SMA Chandler]expressed this is exactly the right time for us as a profession to reflect upon our strengths and weaknesses after a decade of sustained conflict and use that knowledge to inspire our force and to chart our future."

Hannah added that CAPE is scheduled to release a report in January on its findings on the Army Profession throughout the last year.