By Chelsea Bissell, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public Affairs March 12, 2012
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- As part of a five-day trip to military posts around Europe, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler III and his wife, Jeanne, visited U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, March 6.
The sergeant major toured the NCO Academy and met with 2nd Cavalry Regiment leadership while Jeanne spoke with employees and spouses at Army Community Service and read to Vilseck Elementary students.
The couple regrouped during a community forum, here, where the sergeant major focused on the Army's dropping standards of professionalism and its implications on the drawdown in forces.
He tackled obscene tattoos, sexual assault, failed PT tests and hazing. Noticing a plunging enthusiasm in the room, Chandler admonished his audience.
"When we talk about things that aren't good, people get quiet. The temperature dropped two to three degrees.
"As … Army professionals," he continued, "we should be able to have a discussion that's uncomfortable."
The next uncomfortable subject: the drawdown. Speaking to an auditorium filled with Soldiers, Chandler affirmed that the drawdown will affect "those that want to serve, those that are serving, and those that are retirement eligible."
The reduction in force will begin with those not meeting the Army's standards of professionalism. That means, according to Chandler, hat failed PT tests, poor weapons scores, crude appearance and off-duty citations will put a Soldier at risk of a short career.
Those wishing to advance in their careers must succeed as professionals both on and off the battlefield.
"The expectation is not that you can cite the Warrior Ethos and the Warrior Creed," Chandler said. "It's that you live the Warrior Ethos and the Warrior Creed."
Chandler leveled heavy criticism against persistent law-breakers and felons given multiple chances, even after flagrant violations. He recalled one Soldier who was cited for failing six urinalyses and still evaded discharge.
"Do they deserve a seat at the table? Do they deserve to serve with you? The answer is no," said Chandler.
Questions from the audience reflected a similar anxiety about the drawdown. Queries hinged on what could get cut and who could lose a job in an environment of decreased spending.
Spouse Laura Gettys, the only civilian to ask a question, wondered what family programs Chandler could foresee getting slashed. While Chandler explained that he aims to use the $1.7 billion allotted for family member funding in a more efficient way, Gettys still harbored concerns.
Later, she explained, "I don't want to see the families pay the price with the budget cuts. We need those programs to grow as wives and for the children."
Spc. Walther Neff, a generator mechanic from the 574th Quartermaster Support Company, expressed concern that a troublesome Soldier, even after conviction, often takes months to finally leave the Army. The disgruntled lingerers, explained Neff, drag down the morale of Soldiers who might otherwise improve.
Regardless of his concerns, Neff felt inspired by the sergeant major of the Army's appearance and attitude.
"It motivates me that he is working for us. Not just for himself or the officers, but the Soldiers."
Despite the fatherly tone Chandler often took in his address, he repeated his respect for the Soldiers who enlisted in the post-9/11 era.
"Your personal courage is heroic to me," said Chandler, adding, "I think the Army is infinitely better than on 9/11."