By Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond H. Chandler IIIOctober 11, 2012
Our Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians have performed magnificently well over these last eleven 11 years. Whether manning a tower at a combat outpost, training with a partner nation, or responding to a natural disaster, our professionals are the reason the Army is one of the most trusted and respected professions in the United States and throughout the world.
Over the last 18 months, the Army has looked to build upon its strengths and set the conditions for success in the future through the outcomes of the Army Profession Campaign. This introspective campaign looks at the impacts of the last decade of war on our institution and its members. The Army Profession Campaign has helped us examine our values, policies, programs, school systems, and doctrine, as well as facilitate an Army-wide dialog to understand what it means to be a member of the Army Profession. This understanding, coupled with decisive action aimed at the professional improvement of the total force, will ensure we will always have an Army prepared to meet any future challenge.
It's not enough just to say we're professional. We must live up to the meaning of the word professionalism in every action. Part of this campaign includes internalizing the five essential characteristics that define the Army Profession. The loss or compromise of any one of these characteristics means we lose our status as a profession.
Trust is earned through our ability to maintain the other four characteristics in everything we do and everywhere we serve. Our Soldiers' military expertise ensures we are able to fight and win our Nation's nation's wars. Esprit de corps helps foster fortitude, pride and cohesion among Soldiers. Soldiers with honorable service embody the Army ethic and our values. Finally, our continued stewardship of the Army Profession ensures resources are well managed and our Soldiers and civilians continue being the professionals our Nation nation expects them to be.
The bonds of trust between among units, subordinates and leaders, uniformed and civilian members, and between America's Army and the Nation's citizens have never been stronger. Without these five characteristics, combat effectiveness is degraded. This level of trust is never a given; it must be earned regularly and demonstrated constantly and consistently.
Because our Soldiers have performed magnificently during the last two wars, we have a large contingent of leaders who are smart, competent and adaptive. These leaders are the backbone of our profession and will continue to develop future leaders.
As professionals, our Soldiers and civilians continually perform their duties with discipline and to high standards of excellence. We demonstrate our competence and character by making informed decisions and taking appropriate actions consistent with the Army Values. Our commitment to the mission is demonstrated by our resilience and willingness to persevere despite risk, adversity and challenge.
Army professionals have displayed unparalleled discipline on the battlefield during a very stressful time in our Army's history. Standards and discipline are reflected in the decision to do what is right, even in the face of temptation, obstacles, adversity, fatigue, and fear.
Here's one example of professional conduct. Earlier this year, I traveled to a small combat outpost in Afghanistan called Bari Alai. This remote platoon-sized camp sits high atop a mountain, and the only way to get on or off this outpost is by helicopter.
On top of this mountain, I met the 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. During the visit, I had the privilege of awarding eight Soldiers the brigade's first Combat Infantry and Combat Action Badges.
These eight young men, five infantry Soldiers, two generator mechanics, and one cook, had never deployed before. Most were under 21. Yet, they decisively engaged the enemy less than 24 hours after arriving at the outpost. The enemy knew that the platoons were rotating, and decided to test their defenses, but 3rd Platoon was ready. They repulsed the attack, and sustained no injuries during the firefight.
It's a testament to that young platoon leader, who had been with the platoon less than a month before deployment, that he ensured his Soldiers were ready for combat. It's a testament to that platoon sergeant that he, who had ensured his Soldiers, regardless of military occupational specialty, were trained in their Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills. And of course, it's a testament to the young men who comprise 3rd Platoon. Each had given the same oath: to support and defend the Constitution. Each lives the Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. Each lives the Warrior Ethos: I will always place the mission first, I will never accept defeat, I will never quit, and I will never leave a fallen comrade. This platoon is just one example of the type of professional who makes up your Army.
But even though our Soldiers and civilians have done a great job on the battlefield, repeated deployments, continuous preparations for further counterinsurgency operations, and increased reliance on contractors have caused portions of our force to lose skills in fundamental areas such as training management, property accountability, maintenance, and counseling back at home station. We must look at repairing these areas where standards of professional discipline have eroded. We cannot allow our Soldiers soldiers to have a perceived relaxation of standards after deployment. We must continually earn the trust and respect of the American people.
The foundation of our Army is solid. We have weathered the unprecedented demands of the last decade with careful, dedicated professionals who never lost focus on the necessity to always care for and improve our profession. Our Army remains strong and will continue to be the Nation's nation's force of decisive action. You can be assured that every Army professional has an obligation to maintain our Army's standing as a trusted profession, capable of meeting our Nation's nation's call in an uncertain future.
THE ARMY PROFESSION
The Army Profession is a vocation comprised of experts certified in the ethical design, generation, support, and application of land combat power, serving under civilian authority, entrusted to defend the Constitution and the rights and interests of the American people.