MRE production for 2014 does away with lasagna, refried beans, fajitas

By ALEX DIXON
Army News Service

Barbecue shredded beef, vegetarian taco pasta and seasoned black beans will replace chicken fajitas, vegetable lasagna, refried beans and potato cheddar soup in the 2014 production of Meals, Ready-to-Eat.

Each year, the Combat Feeding Directorate at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center at Natick, Mass., goes into the field to test new food items with the warfighters and get input on existing food items, said Jeanette Kennedy, a senior food technologist at Natick.

The pepperoni sandwich is part of the new First Strike Ration developed by the Combat Feeding Directorate at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass.
The pepperoni sandwich is part of the new First Strike Ration developed by the Combat Feeding Directorate at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass.

Soldiers also make recommendations for items they would like to see in Meals, Ready-to-Eat, known as MREs. But sometimes, implementing these items is not feasible due to the process of food preservation technology. Kennedy said this is the case with a commonly recommended item, pizza.

MREs are produced through the “retort process,” which is a thermal processing method meant to sterilize food. The food items are sealed into a pouch and heated under pressure to temperatures above 240 degrees. This inactivates the microbes that would cause food spoilage.

Kennedy said Natick Soldier Research is currently researching non-thermal, low-thermal, and advanced thermal processes that are less detrimental to the food as compared to the retort process.

Entrees prepared using these methods will taste as though freshly prepared, Kennedy said.

“For example, the next generation of ration entrees may be processed via microwave sterilization, high pressure processing, super critical carbon dioxide preservation, or osmotic dehydration,” Kennedy said. “These novel food processing and preservation methods may enable us to produce a greater variety of highly desired menu items, for example eggs, macaroni and cheese and deli meats, that have a near-fresh quality and high nutrient value.”

For next year’s production, Combat Feeding Directorate will also transition to foldable fiberboard sleeves instead of the current cartons inside the MREs to greatly reduce the size and weight, Kennedy said.

MREs have grown immensely in terms of variety of options and cuisines represented since the trench rations of World War I. Kennedy, along with Julie Smith, senior food technologist for the Combat Rations Team, said options will continue to grow.

Currently, there are 24 menus, which consist of an entrée, such as beef stew or lemon pepper tuna, and several other food items, such as crackers with cheese spread, fruit, and pound cake.

Since World War I’s trench rations, which consisted of large amounts of food such as canned bread, corned beef and sardines meant for the entire unit to consume, MREs have grown smaller and more complex, while still retaining the nutrients required to sustain Soldier’s energy.

In 2008, Combat Feeding began fielding the First Strike Ration, a compact assault ration designed to be eaten on the move. It consists of many of the items found in the MRE, but can be carried in a cargo pocket and doesn’t need to be eaten with a spoon.

Smith said the goal is to increase Soldiers caloric intake throughout the day in combat operations while eliminating the need to stop and heat up the food.

She said they are currently testing around six new flavors for the First Strike Ration’s pocket sandwiches.

“The rations are never good enough,” Kennedy said. “We’re always looking to improve them and to be in alignment with what the current warfighter wants and also meeting nutritional needs.”

NCO becomes first female drill sergeant for Florida Army National Guard

By STAFF SGT. CARMEN STEINBACH
107th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Five years after the National Guard was authorized drill sergeant specialties, the Florida National Guard has added another first — the first female drill sergeant in the state’s history.

Staff Sgt. Danielle Gorie works full-time for the FLARNG’s recruitment and retention office as the advertising and marketing NCO, but she recently took on a more challenging role as drill sergeant.

Staff Sgt. Danielle Gorie, a drill sergeant with the Florida National Guard, checks the compass reading of Spc. Ryan Brewer during a land navigation exercise at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla., in July 2013. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Carmen Steinbach)
Staff Sgt. Danielle Gorie, a drill sergeant with the Florida National Guard, checks the compass reading of Spc. Ryan Brewer during a land navigation exercise at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla., in July 2013. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Carmen Steinbach)

“I wanted to set myself apart,” Gorie said. “I love training troops, and now I can in a drill instructor capacity. It’s all about mentoring Soldiers, and that’s something that I greatly enjoy.”

In order to become a drill sergeant, Gorie and other candidates from various units across the country endured nine grueling weeks of drill sergeant training at Fort Jackson, S.C. Out of the 60 students who graduated in Gorie’s class, eight were female.

“It was basic training all over again,” said Gorie, who ranked the course as the most difficult challenge she has faced in her entire military career. “If you failed a test, you retook it the next morning. If you failed again, you went home.”

In addition to earning the Drill Sergeant Identification Badge, she also gained various certifications, such as Combat Life Saver and combatives instructor during the course.

Having completed the training, Gorie now is responsible for training prior-service and initial recruits awaiting Officer Candidate School as part of the Officer Recruit Sustainment Program.

“Having a drill sergeant as part of our RSP-O program helps by teaching them basic soldier skills, like drill and ceremonies and physical training, prior to attending Basic Combat Training,” said Capt. Enrique Martinez Jr., officer strength manager. “It also helps minimize the ‘shock’ factor upon the warriors’ arrival at their first course.”

Since its creation, Soldiers who have attended the RSP program prior to their basic training have consistently outshone their peers even beyond boot camp, Martinez said. Since the majority of Gorie’s Soldiers are prior service, and all of them hold degrees, she expects no less from them.

“I hold them to a higher standard than I would ordinary privates,” said Gorie. “They’re all adults and capable of having responsibilities even at this new-Soldier level.”

NCO to receive Medal of Honor for actions at COP Keating

By GARY SHEFTICK
Army News Service

President Barack Obama announced July 26 that Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter will receive the Medal of Honor next month for his “conspicuous gallantry” in Afghanistan.

Carter will receive the nation’s highest award for valor Aug. 26, 2013, for his defense of Combat Outpost Keating, in a remote mountain valley of Nuristan province in western Afghanistan. During a battle which raged for more than six hours, Carter was instrumental in keeping the southern flank of the outpost from being overrun Oct. 3, 2009, by an enemy that outnumbered the Americans almost eight to one.

Staff Sgt. Ty M. Carter, then with 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides overwatch on a road near Dahla Dam, Afghanistan, in July 2012. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army)
Staff Sgt. Ty M. Carter, then with 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides overwatch on a road near Dahla Dam, Afghanistan, in July 2012. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army)

The 54 members of B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, were attacked by more than 400 enemy fighters with heavy automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, known as RPGs, firing from high ground surrounding the outpost. The enemy infiltrated two areas of the combat outpost, known as a COP, killing eight U.S. Soldiers and injuring more than 25.

Carter, who was a specialist at the time, ran a gauntlet of enemy fire to resupply ammo to fighting positions. He picked off numerous enemy with his sharpshooting and risked his life to carry an injured Soldier to cover, despite his own injuries from RPG rounds.

Carter will be the fifth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He’s also the second Soldier to receive the award for the defense of COP Keating, sometimes called the Battle of Kamdesh. Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha received the Medal of Honor Feb. 11, 2013, for defending the northern side of the outpost.

Carter’s platoon sergeant at COP Keating said he was extremely proud of the actions of his Soldiers that day and not too surprised when he heard about the second Medal of Honor.

“I was pleasantly surprised, but I wasn’t shocked,” said retired 1st Sgt. Jonathan G. Hill. “In my heart I knew deep down inside that it was going to happen eventually, because knowing what he (Carter) went through and knowing the extraordinary circumstances that he and everyone else had faced, there was no way that something like this could be passed up. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Carter and his family will join the president at the White House for the Medal of Honor ceremony.

Carter was born in Washington state and claims Antioch, Calif., as his home of record, despite growing up in Spokane, Wash. He is married to Shannon Carter and they have three children: Jayden Young, Madison Carter and Sehara Carter.

Carter enlisted in the Army in January 2008 as a cavalry scout, after serving in the Marine Corps. After completing training at Fort Knox, Ky., he was assigned to 3-61 Cavalry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, where he deployed to Afghanistan from May 2009 to May 2010.

In Oct 2010, he was assigned as a Stryker gunner with 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. He completed a second deployment to Afghanistan in October 2012. He is currently stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and is assigned to the 7th Infantry Division.

Carter’s military decorations include: the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Navy Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the NCO Professional Development Ribbon with numeral 2, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge and the Air Assault Badge. He has also earned the Valorous Unit Award and the Meritorious Unit Commendation.

NCO saves teens from burning vehicle

The quick thinking of Staff Sgt. Michael Peters coupled with his Army training saved the lives of three teenagers trapped in a burning vehicle.

Peters, a trainer/mentor assigned to 2nd Battalion, 289 Field Artillery, 157th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East, and his wife, Debra Peters, were driving home from work July 19 at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, or CAJMTC, Ind., when they came upon a single-vehicle accident moments after it occurred.

The driver of the vehicle struck a tree head-on. A 15-year old passenger had exited the vehicle, but three other teens, ages 14, 16 and 18, were still inside.

When Peters and his wife stopped, two of the teens were pinned in the front of the vehicle, which was on fire. A third teen was unconscious in the back seat.

“We didn’t think about it; we just pulled over,” Michael Peters recalled. “Our thought was to clear the teens out before the vehicle was entirely engulfed (in flames).”

Peters immediately took charge of the situation, calling 911 and helping his wife get two of the teens out. A local police officer arrived in time to help pull the third injured teenager from the burning car. Worried about the flames, Peters moved all the teens to safety. Moments later, the vehicle was completely engulfed in flames.

Michael Peters, a recent graduate of the U.S. Army Combat Lifesavers Course, used his training to quickly assess the situation.

“I just did my A-B-C’s — airway, breathing, and circulation,” he said. “I could tell the driver had a broken femur. I kept him quiet by talking to him and let him know that help was on the way. I let him know that his buddies were being cared for by other people.”

“Staff Sergeant Peters just completed an iteration of medical training and happened to be in the right place at the right time to lend a hand,” said Maj. Arthur Rutnarak, executive officer with the 2-289th Field Artillery Battalion, 157th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East. “The 2-289th Field Artillery Battalion is honored to have Soldiers like Staff Sergeant Peters in their ranks, and we are proud he could support our local community in a time of need.”

Humble and modest about the situation, Micheal Peters insists any other Soldier in the same situation would have reacted in the same way.

“My Army training just kicked in,” said Michael Peters. “It wasn’t more than three minutes (after the teenagers were moved away) when the entire vehicle went up in flames. I just kept thinking, ‘what if we were (driving by) minutes too early, or too late.’ I’m glad my wife and I were there to help out.”

A 15-year Army veteran, Michael Peters has worked as an emergency medical technician in the past.

Debra Peters also remembered her basic life-saving training. She served nine years in the Army before getting out, and is now an administrative assistant for the Department of Public Works at CAJMTC.

“Once (Army training) is in you, it’s in you,” said Debra Peters. “I remembered to stay focused on the victims, stay calm and tried to get information from the teens to pass on to the first emergency responders.”

Johnson County Sherriff Doug Cox credited the Peters duo with saving three lives. He said anyone stuck in the vehicles would have perished.

Due to a head injury, one teen was air lifted to a nearby hospital where he is still hospitalized, but is in good condition. The other three were also transported to local hospitals, two with fractures and broken bones. Two of the three have been released and are recovering at home.

“I appreciate the Peters’ so much,” said Angela Egner, mother of injured teen, Austin, 15. “My son wouldn’t probably be here today if it weren’t for them. They are two angels sent by God to save those boys. I don’t think they can ever know how much I appreciate them.”

“When my parents told me what happened, I was so happy they were able to help,” said Michaela Peters, 15, Michael and Debra’s daughter. “I am proud to call them my parents.”

Michael Peters’ military leaders are also proud of their actions.

“With a combined total of 25 years of U.S. Army service between Staff Sergeant Peters and Mrs. Peters, their actions validate the epitome of the U.S. Army Soldier,” said Col. Brandt Deck, commander of the 157th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East. “Relying upon their training, the Peters’ reacted positively, without fear or hesitation for their own safety and saved three young teenagers. The 157th Infantry Brigade could not be more proud of Staff Sergeant Peters and Mrs. Peters.”

Trainer/mentors of the First Army Division East prepare mobilizing reserve-component forces for deployment and contingency operations by providing realistic and relevant, complex operational environment-based training reflecting the most current conditions Soldiers will face in theater.

The Army News Service contributed to this report.

Engaged leadership: Beating DUIs at the company level

By MASTER SGT. JAMES J. MARTIN
Directorate of Public Works, Fort Gordon

I do not claim to have a cure-all, end-all approach to problems that plague our Army. But, in 19 years, I have seen some solutions that work and others that don’t.

The Army has thrown everything, including money and handcuffs, at the problem of driving under the influence. However, we have only succeeded at creating a generation of risk-averse leaders whose fear of losing their jobs if a Soldier is charged with DUI directs their decision-making process.

The Army has tried myriad formulas. Yet counseling, safety briefs, taxi cards, courtesy patrols and unit shuttles have only put a small dent in the problem while allowing leaders to say, “I did everything I could,” or “It wasn’t my fault,” as they wash their hands of the offending Soldier.

Going beyond the prescribed steps

Here lies the problem: We have a generation of leaders who only follow prescribed steps to protect Soldiers from the perils of drugs and alcohol. But if a leader only follows a prescribed checklist, they are not thinking on their own, nor are they tailoring plans to protect their Soldiers. They are merely protecting their careers.

The Army deals with thousands of DUI arrests every year. The company leadership is at the tip of the spear in the fight to reduce that number. The man-hours spent, from the platoon level all the way up to the brigade level, are innumerable. Yet imagine how good a unit could be if all those hours were instead spent planning training, mentoring Soldiers or building the team. The old saying, “First sergeants spend 90 percent of their time dealing with 10 percent of their Soldiers,” is only as true as leaders allow it to be.

As a first sergeant, I did not allow myself to be seduced into that cycle. I knew that my Soldiers who did the right thing deserved more of my attention. I put in longer hours, came in early and left late. I refused to accept the fact that troubled Soldiers would dictate my time or attention.

Instead, to target the problem more aptly, we applied engaged leadership to the identified high-risk Soldiers who may have been more inclined to abuse drugs or drive drunk. It really is a simple concept that requires motivated and dedicated leaders that truly care about Soldiers and their organization.

Leaders should attack this problem the same way they defeat improvised explosive devices and insurgent cells: by attacking the network and winning hearts and minds. If a unit does nothing but walk up and down the road looking for IEDs (as a unit would deal with DUIs merely through counseling or safety briefs), they will locate most of them. But occasionally one will get by them and detonate on a Soldier, wounding or killing them (as a DUI or drug use would affect Soldiers in the unit). This is why we attack the network; we want to be “left of the boom.”

On the other hand, if a unit conducts route clearance, complemented by analysis and through other operations (such as combining DUI- and drug-related safety briefs and counseling with engaged leadership within a unit), the unit can get to the root causes of why and how IEDs are being emplaced, just as a unit can discover the root issues to DUIs and drug use.

Often, there is too much alcohol, drugs, time or money available to Soldiers. But if a Soldier has hobbies or interests — things they enjoy doing — they will spend money on those activities instead and have less money to spend in the clubs. Such hobbies and interests also take time to develop, and if the Soldier’s time is spent on hobbies, they are not in positions to incur a DUI. Therefore, to get “left of the boom,” engaged leaders must attack Soldiers’ overabundance of money and time before they are forced to do it through the military justice system.

Engaging Soldiers

To get junior leaders to become engaged leaders, units need to have young sergeants who want to lead. If a unit has only E-5s and not sergeants, then they need to be retrained, reduced or relieved. Engaged leadership only works when sergeants and staff sergeants truly want to lead Soldiers.

Why do we discourage leaders and Soldiers from spending time together off duty? This is another speed bump in the way of becoming engaged. A unit should want Soldiers and leaders to spend time together outside of work. But, it must first start with mature leaders who care about Soldiers and who want a cohesive team. The leader needs to understand how to accomplish this without blurring the lines of fraternization. This is a companywide effort, and if the entire organization is not focused on the same goal, it will not work.

Like many leaders, I have often asked myself, “What else can I do?” I decided to target the problem the same way that I have taught targeting to dozens of company intelligence support teams as an observer-controller/trainer.

Using this framework, I attacked the problem by going after the Soldiers’ time and money — not by arbitrarily taking it from them, but by giving them something else to do on the weekends. Again, the more time and money Soldiers spend on worthwhile pursuits, the less time they will have for the bars or sitting alone in a dark room with a bottle.

Now, before I figured out how to get this time from the Soldiers, I needed to give them more time first. I know this sounds backwards, but it is true.

I absolutely deplore Soldiers sitting around doing nothing in the motor pool or in the back of the company. If Soldiers are done working and all tasks have been completed, then they should have no reason to wait around. Soldiers who are happy about getting off at a decent time are more likely to stay out of trouble, especially when they know being released early depends on it.

This helps in another way. The Soldiers from other companies see this and tell my Soldiers that they want to be part of their company, which can only serve to build esprit de corps. Every Soldier is proud to be in the company that the rest of the battalion wishes they were a part of. Thus, espirit de corps builds a more disciplined unit. So to reiterate: To get Soldiers’ time, give them time.

Giving Soldiers something to do

As a senior NCO new to the organization, one of my first priorities was to walk through the barracks. It gave me the chance to look each of the Soldiers in the eye as they stood tall outside their rooms. I asked them all the normal questions — about home, family, what they did with their time off. The more rooms I looked at, the more a pattern started to emerge. I noticed that Soldiers had lying around unused fishing rods, remote control helicopters, paintball equipment, musical instruments and so on. These items revealed activities the Soldier participated in before joining the Army but did not do now.

There were several excuses why, but mostly it boiled down to the Soldier not having enough money, not having any idea where to go or not having anyone to do it with. These were all problems I could help with.

My fix for “I don’t know where to go” was to engage the company Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers representative and figure out the status of our BOSS program. Well, we were broken. We had the obligatory fliers up and met the minimum requirements, but that just does not work. I “encouraged” my BOSS rep to do his research, and on Thursday mornings at formation, he began briefing the entire company on events in the surrounding area for the following week —festivals, concerts, drag races, BOSS trips, dinner theater, anything that single or married Soldiers and family members could attend. It was briefed far enough ahead of time that Soldiers could talk about it at work and form groups to go places.

I could not have predicted how effective this ended up being, and it required little to no resources. I counted on my BOSS rep for a few things. I had him coordinate a company visit to the outdoor recreation rental facility and made it the place of duty for all Soldiers one afternoon. The Morale, Welfare and Recreation folks were great and gave us a tour showing the Soldiers how to rent and use equipment. After the visit, we had many Soldiers that wanted to rent boats but did not have the proper license or training. That was another easy problem to fix without many resources needed.

I started a boating mentorship class. For a week after work, a few trained NCOs and I offered classes at the company, giving Soldiers blocks of instruction on safe boating and the rules of the water. The licensing part was completed online with direct mentorship from leaders. The last part of the rental requirement was a hands-on test at the marina. We all met at the company on a Saturday morning and carpooled out to the marina. Afterward, I had a half-dozen Soldiers properly trained in boat safely — Soldiers who were able to take other Soldiers to the lake and enjoy a day boating with no alcohol involved. Besides, a Soldier who is going to get up early and go to the lake with their friends is most likely not at the club until 3 a.m. the previous night.

Good activities replacing the bad

This theme slowly caught on throughout the company, and soon everyone was participating in activities. The company hosted a battalion fishing tournament. The MWR outdoor recreation site rented out every boat it had, the Family Readiness Group was onsite cooking and kids played at the beach while the Soldiers fished. Soldiers who had never fished a day in their lives bought $10 fishing rods and came out to see what it was all about. Through engaged leadership, Soldiers were introduced to new, wholesome methods to occupy their time.

As an avid competitive archer and bow hunter, I was able to take Soldiers to the on-post archery range and teach them to shoot a bow. This was such a huge success that eight Soldiers immediately purchased their own archery equipment and started entering competitions. And every dollar spent on this new hobby was money not spent on alcohol or in the club.

Similarly, figuring out all the rules for hunting on a military installation can be a little intimidating. So several of the experienced hunters were able to guide Soldiers through the process — Soldiers that would never have hunted if not for some mentoring. The importance of Soldiers learning to stalk through the woods instead of spending all night in a club cannot be overstated. Yet all of this could not have been accomplished without leaders identifying the interests of their subordinates and mentoring them. Finding ways for them to spend their time and money essentially becomes just the cost of doing business.

These few examples were just the beginning. It spread from there as Soldiers came up with their own ideas and banded together to try new things. One Soldier coordinated a handgun safety class while another took Soldiers to the coast to catch crabs. Soldiers were traveling together and volunteering together. Some coached youth basketball while other Soldiers coached youth soccer. These types of things helped give the Soldiers a sense of purpose, and we made sure they were rewarded with the appropriate acknowledgement and awards. As the rewards caught on, soon other Soldiers wanted to be recognized, and volunteering and community outreach spread as more joined in.

Creating unit pride

All of these things made a name for us, and before long, the company was known all over post — and not for frequent appearances in the police blotter, either. As a company, we competed in MWR events, supported charities on- and off-post and participated in community events as a team. People wanted to be in our organization, and again that added to the unit’s pride.

But this alone cannot be the whole source of a unit’s pride. The majority must come from job performance. There is a delicate balance here, and if it is not struck, it is easy to create a lazy company that goes home early or that only does well from time to time. The company must become proficient in their field. They must train hard and finish strong. The company needs to become known as the example of excellence within the battalion.

Creating pride in a unit is something that is frequently talked about but never really followed up on. But I wanted us to take it to the next level. We wanted to create Soldiers who held their heads up high and bragged about their unit. Soldiers who are part of a unit like that do not want to be the individual who soils the company’s name by smearing it on the blotter. They may not fear the punishment, but they are deathly afraid of the shame they would bring to their unit. This creates an environment where Soldiers truly look out for each other. They stop their peers before they do something stupid.

Showing Soldiers this much attention will leave little doubt that they are truly cared for. In exchange, they will respond with tremendous effort. If Soldiers are not kept sitting around aimlessly waiting for the end of the day, when the time comes for them to work late, they will be less likely to complain. They will understand that, if they have to work late, it must be something important.

How it all can reduce DUIs

While these digressions may seem like boastful forays off the track, they are an integral piece of the puzzle that led to the company’s success in beating DUIs. I will not say we did not have problems, because we did. In almost three years, I went to the Military Police station eight times. For some that may seem like a lot, but for an all-male combat arms company, it was rather exceptional.

I should clarify that I was not trying to keep the Soldier from the bar completely. Rather, it was my intent to get them out of the bar before getting so drunk that mistakes happen. I am a realist. Soldiers are going to go out, and they may meet some nice people early on in the night. But nothing good has ever come from a Soldier staying at the bar all night long.

I have heard, “We can’t do that in my unit” for whatever reason. But I would argue that these ideas can be implemented in any unit at anytime. Our unit went through each phase of the Army Force Generation cycle — from the training and preparation for deployment, to deploying and ultimately to the reset phase. Yet in each stage, we succeeded through all the hard times. I can attest that some times were definitely harder than others, but when your Soldiers and your unit are your top priority, it is all worth it.

Just as we do on the battlefield in each phase of the life cycle, Soldiers are owed leaders who are willing to attack the root cause of threats to get “left of the boom.” Leaders must get Soldiers involved in other activities through engaged leadership. Leaders must actually get to know their Soldiers, rather than just reciting their intention to in our creeds. NCOs need to know not simple data like Soldiers’ kids’ birthdays, but what really makes their Soldiers tick and what their interests are. Leaders need to show Soldiers how to get out of their rooms and how to get out of the clubs on a path that veers away from alcohol and drugs.

The culture of paperwork leadership and checking the blocks needs to be changed. Senior leaders must mentor junior leaders’ involvement in the day-to-day life of their Soldiers. NCOs should train Soldiers hard, be fair, reward them properly, and above all care genuinely. The rest will come easy.

Master Sgt. James J. Martin is currently the Directorate of Public Works sergeant major at Fort Gordon, Ga. His previous assignment was as first sergeant of B Troop, 3rd Battalion, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. In his 19-year Army career, he has deployed to Macedonia, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.