By Nick Spinelli, Fort Gordon Public AffairsAugust 23, 2012
FORT GORDON, Ga. (Army News Service, Aug. 23, 2012) -- During a recent visit here, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III told Soldiers that with force reductions coming, the Army will be eying those who best exemplify the qualities of a professional Soldier.
During an Aug. 20 town hall forum with Soldiers, Chandler addressed budget cut concerns and the reality of an upcoming drawdown.
"The bottom line is we are going to have a smaller Army," Chandler said.
The plan, Chandler said, is to reduce the force from its current level of 569,000 to approximately 490,000 Soldiers over the next five years. This will be accomplished through lower recruiting and retention goals, as well as some forced reclassification or separations for personnel in over-manned specialties.
While this could be a cause of concern for Soldiers, Chandler said it should inspire every Soldier who wants to remain to be the best they can be.
"Are you willing to do what the Army expects you to do?" he asked. "Are you committed to doing what needs to be done? If you are not, then you are not a professional Soldier."
Suicide was also a topic of discussion at the forum.
"It's a huge issue in the Army," Chandler said. "Right now, two Soldiers die from suicide for every one who is killed in combat. This is unacceptable. We need to take care of ourselves and our fellow Soldiers."
The main theme of his remarks kept coming back to core professional ethics, which he described as "character, commitment, and confidence."
"What a Soldier does reflects on the entire Army," Chandler said. "If every Soldier focused on being a person of character, commitment, and confidence, our Army will become better than it is today."
Chandler visited Fort Gordon in late July, where he accompanied Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III on a week-long "Health of the Force" tour of several Army installations. That visit, Chandler said, hadn't provided him with adequate time to meet with Soldiers.
"This trip allows me to get to see the post and meet some of the Soldiers and families who live and work on Fort Gordon," Chandler said.
Before concluding his visit, Chandler had a breakfast "meet and greet" sponsored by the Association of the United States Army, toured training facilities on post, had lunch with Soldiers, and met with Fort Gordon's noncommissioned officer community for a professional development session. He also visited Soldiers rehabilitating at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta.