Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III spent two days at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., this week. During his stop, Chandler spoke to senior noncommissioned officers about the direction the Army is taking as it transitions into the future.
The Army announced its Soldier 2020 plan last week as part of a Department of Defense requirement. The plan describes how all combat arms career fields will open up to qualified female Soldiers. The plan also asks for the development of gender-neutral standards for every military occupational specialty. These new standards will aid leadership in selecting the most qualified Soldiers for any job, regardless of gender, Chandler said. The plan asks that these gender-neutral standards be implemented by 2016.
A precursor to the development of these standards is the Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, review of current standards for each MOS, which Chandler said has not been done since the 1970s for some career fields.
“Many of our standards are outdated and very old. What we’re doing now is looking at the physical requirements for any person, male or female, to serve in an MOS, and once the revised standard is implemented, that will be the standard for anyone to serve in that MOS.”
Chandler said this will allow the Army to better “manage talent and make sure that talent is best applied to the positions where it can best serve the Army and its needs,” Chandler said. “As we move to a smaller force but the demand to deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars is still very high, we need to manage the available talent pool to the best of our ability. This is about maximizing an individual’s ability to serve in our Army the best they can so that we’re more effective and efficient.”
After addressing the audience, Chandler answered questions about this policy change, including one about misconceptions.
“There’s a misconception that female Soldiers won’t have to meet the same standards as male Soldiers or that we’re going to lower standards. That’s just not the case,” Chandler said. “This is about one standard applied equally across the force.”
Chandler acknowledged, however, that this change won’t, and shouldn’t, happen overnight.
“We are doing this deliberately and incrementally,” he said, noting that conducting needed surveys and developing policies and procedures take time.
A visit by Installation Management Command leaders Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter and Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Rice drew garrison leaders from throughout Europe to Wiesbaden, Germany, to share ideas and discuss issues.
IMCOM’s commander and senior NCO took an inside look at how transformation is changing the face of U.S. Army Europe. The pair toured U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden’s Warrior Training Center on McCully Barracks and talked about the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program.
After watching as community members engaged in combatives, boxing and martial arts training, Ferriter and Rice talked about the importance of building self-confidence, self-reliance and warrior skills through regular physical fitness training.
“It doesn’t cost a dime,” said Rice, about staying in shape through regular PT, runs, marches and combatives training. “Fill up your tank, come back and you’re ready to roll. Don’t let anything get in your way of that. After you fill up that tank with a good day of PT, nothing can stop you. Do it every day and be ready.”
Ferriter emphasized how important it is for Soldiers to learn and maintain combatives skills and confidence to be ready for any situation.
“It’s what we do every day as Soldiers that is right,” said Rice, explaining that having a dedicated PT time is critical — whether during inprocessing or when on leave. “Do it every day and be ready.”
Both leaders stressed that noncommissioned officers are the role models who lead by example — looking out for their Soldiers, encouraging and motivating them to stay in shape and to always do what’s right to help prevent fellow Soldiers from falling victim to sexual harassment or abuse.
During a roundtable session with IMCOM-Europe garrison commanders and command sergeants major, leaders agreed that SHARP is a sergeant’s program — one that may get support from civilian subject matter experts, but a program that ultimately relies on NCOs to set the example and to take preventive or corrective actions when required.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had his first in-person meeting Thursday in Washington with a panel charged with reviewing the Defense Department’s response systems to sexual assaults and related crimes.
Before Thursday, Hagel had spoken to Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel members via teleconference. The Defense Department established the panel in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, he added.
“The panel will conduct an independent review and assessment of the systems used to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate crimes involving sexual assault and related offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said. “It will develop recommendations to improve the effectiveness of those systems.”
The meeting came as a deadline nears for the Army’s active component to complete a sexual assault prevention and response stand-down. The effort was outlined by a memorandum signed by Hagel on May 17. It asks that the Army conduct refresher training and credential reviews as part of its Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, program by July 1. The reserve component must be done by Sept. 1.
During the administrative portion of Thursday’s meeting, Hagel thanked the panel members for bringing their expertise help the Defense Department address one of its most pressing challenges, Little said.
“Secretary Hagel made clear that his goal is to eradicate the crime of sexual assault from the military, and that he is open to all their ideas on how to accomplish this objective,” Little said. “He believes the panel’s findings and recommendations will play a critical role in ensuring that the department, working closely with Congress, makes well-informed decisions to improve sexual assault response and prevention — considering all the options on the table.”
Hagel asked the panel to work deliberately and carefully, based on thorough research and analysis, but also emphasized the importance of acting quickly, Little said, and he pledged the department’s full support for the panel’s efforts.
Fans of the long-running comic strip “Beetle Bailey” saw a different approach June 16, when its creator, Mort Walker, chose to set aside his usual military-inspired humor to tackle a more serious subject.
That day’s three-panel strip showed Beetle Bailey experiencing the signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD — including nightmares and trouble sleeping. The third panel reminds readers that “Post-traumatic stress can affect any Soldier.” That message from Walker helped kick off a public service campaign by the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program to bring attention to the invisible wounds of war — post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury — during June, which is National PTSD Awareness Month.
The Home Base program, founded in 2009, has provided clinical treatment for more than 600 veterans and family members, and has educated more than 7,500 clinicians nationwide about PTSD and traumatic brain injury, known as TBI.
In a video he recorded, Walker, an 89-year-old Army veteran of World War II, discussed why he used Beetle Bailey to help shed light on this issue.
“I feel so sorry for the veterans that have that post-traumatic stress,” Walker said. “I would do anything to help them — even one, even one, if I could.
By SGT. MAJ. OF THE ARMY RAYMOND F. CHANDLER III
14th Sergeant Major of the Army
Our Army has faced many challenges throughout the last 12 years, and we’ve always been successful. But today we face another challenge, and this time it is an insider threat — sexual harassment and sexual assault of Soldiers by others in our ranks. Despite efforts during the past four years, we have not been able to show significant progress, and that has eroded our reputation among the American public and our elected leaders.
Recently, a congresswoman told me she was disappointed with our progress in eliminating this threat and that we were failing the nation. “We expect more from our men and women in uniform,” she said.
We say this is our top priority. We’ve spent years studying it. We’ve put together programs and training. But how can we influence and change the culture in our units to achieve the outcomes we want?
I know we can turn this around, but only if our Soldiers — from junior enlisted to senior NCOs — understand what it means to be a professional, and specifically, what it means to be committed.
Commitment is looking out for your fellow Soldiers and doing what the Army says you’re supposed to do as that professional. From my perspective, however, we’re not really sure what ‘commitment’ means when it comes to sexual assault and harassment. We talk a lot about it and mention that our Warrior Ethos reinforces it, but are you really committed to your fellow Soldiers?
When I conduct town hall meetings with Soldiers, the first thing I ask them is, “Hey, do you know what this Army profession is all about?” And in almost every session, I get only four or five answers out of literally hundreds of people.
So if you’re not talking about our professional requirements, I don’t know how committed you are to provide NCO leadership, to change our culture and to ensure this threat does not endanger your Soldiers.
When your Soldiers understand the Army profession, they will understand their commitment to the Army when we say, “We need you to be this type of person. You are going to have this ethos, and you are going to live this way in a values-based organization.”
Our squad leaders have an important role to play in this effort, but they cannot do this alone. Mid-grade and senior NCOs must lead the change by example. The bottom line is that our Army is going to hold everyone in the chain of command accountable, right up to the top.
Even the most junior enlisted Soldier must understand the consequences of not being committed. They need to hear from each and every one of you personally. You need to tell them why allowing this threat into our ranks undermines both our Army and our professionalism.
When I am conducting a town hall meeting, I like to use this analogy to drive home this point. I ask them, “Have you ever had something stolen from the barracks?” Dozens raise their hands, and most say it was likely done by a fellow Soldier. I follow up by asking, “How did you feel about that?”
They say they lost trust in their fellow Soldiers, and in most circumstances, they say they lost faith in their leadership because they did little once it was reported. Many had to pay out of their own pockets to replace what was taken.
Did they get upset? Heck yeah. They were furious, and so were their friends. So I ask them, “Why aren’t you furious when someone’s dignity and respect — which you can’t buy back — is stolen from a fellow Soldier when they are sexually assaulted?”
You’ve got to put this threat into terms every Soldier can understand. They don’t want to just see another set of PowerPoint slides — but we’re still doing that.
Another way NCOs demonstrate commitment is by showing that there are consequences. When I talk to Soldiers in small groups, they tell me they don’t see senior-level involvement in addressing this threat. They know something happened, but from their perception it seems the victim and the assault have just faded away.
Inevitably something did happen. We need to have the courage to tell them, “This is what happened and we did something.” We don’t have to destroy someone’s dignity when we tell them this, but we owe it to our Soldiers. As professionals, we must be a self-policing organization, and there needs to be an outcome.
Our Soldiers want to hear from NCOs. They want us out of our offices, talking to them in small groups and saying, “Look, this is why this is important.” To be engaged like that takes commitment.
Our young Soldiers, who rely on us so much, want leadership, purpose, direction, motivation and understanding that we love them and we’re committed to them. And by example, we will be those professionals.
It takes an Army of action, an NCO Corps willing to do its part. This cannot be delegated, and it cannot be pushed up your chain of command.
Professionalism means going above and beyond for each and every one of our Soldiers. We’re going to do more than the minimum.
We have to do this because at the end of the day, we’re going to be held to a higher standard. Our Army is held to a higher standard. And if we’re not going to do this, Congress will.
So, are you really committed?
The official magazine of noncommissioned officer professional development