SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 6, 2012) -- Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, spoke to the Army's 56 All-American Bowl Week Soldier Heroes during a Jan. 5 breakfast at Sunset Station.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler greeted the group and introduced Cone. He opened with words of encouragement and praise.

"You are heroes," Chandler said. "Be proud of who you are and what you do."

Cone's message, although brief, focused on three main points: Establishing the conditions for the Army in 2014, focusing on preparedness rather than short-term readiness, and the Army Profession.

"The world as we know it is going to change," said Cone. "I would argue that as we look to the future, we think more about being an Army of preparation."

Cone said this concept has significant impact on the "professionals" in terms of how they prepare the next generation of leaders. The challenge will now be investing in the right things to make sure we're ready. One of those investments starts with understanding the ideal of the Army as a profession. A professional is committed to a set of values, a profession has standards and discipline; it enforces itself and has a unique body of professional knowledge.

"That's what we do," said Cone. Ours is "the ethical application of lethal force to achieve this nation's objective."

With Soldiers evaluating their role as professionals, there is a need to look at standards and discipline.

"You enforce standards and disciplines," Chandler said. "Your exposure [to the American public] is what makes young people say 'I want to be like that.'"

Trust is a big part of what holds the program together and Soldiers must be able to trust that the leaders are enforcing the standards of qualification and that discipline is at the forefront of their lives.

The final point to the message was the center of it all, the importance of leader development. In talking about an Army of preparation, Cone said you have to focus on leader development. The three components of leader development are experience, institutional development (formal Army schoolhouse training and education) and self development.

In looking to the changes to come with the cutbacks and downsizing, Cone assured the Soldiers of the success of the Army.

"We'll be OK," he said. "If we hang together and trust each other and continue to communicate."