News: Sergeant Major of the Army visits COS Marez
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq – Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III met with senior U.S. Division – North leaders, spoke with soldiers and witnessed U.S. and Iraqi troops working together during a visit to Contingency Operating Sites Marez and Diamondback in Ninewa province, Iraq, June 23.
As part of his first tour of Iraq since assuming the Army’s top enlisted position, March 1, Chandler discussed issues ranging from ending sexual harassment in the Army to new uniform standards with senior non-commissioned officers during a lunch meeting at the COS Marez dining facility, and spoke with soldiers during a town hall meeting at the COS Diamondback theater.
Chandler asked the soldiers deployed in support of Operation New Dawn to share their opinions on how to improve the quality of life for themselves and their comrades, and afforded troops the opportunity to ask questions about Army policy.
“Every one of you is doing a great job,” he said. “You have a voice, use it. Be respectful, be tactful, but use your voice, because people will listen. From your voices comes change.”
During the town hall meeting, Chandler impressed upon the junior troops the importance of stepping up as a new generation of young leaders ready to take responsibility for the future of the Army.
“It’s not Sgt. Maj. Chandler or Gen. Dempsey or your brigade commander or sergeant major that will get our mission done,” Chandler told the young leaders. “It is you team leaders, you section sergeants, you platoon sergeants. You are going to make the Army successful. You are responsible for setting and maintaining the standard.”
Chandler also toured the Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center where U.S. soldiers assigned to 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, conduct military training with soldiers assigned to 3rd Iraqi Army Division.
He also visited a combined security checkpoint east of Mozul, where 4th AAB soldiers advise, train and assist IA soldiers, policemen and Kurdish Peshmurga, who maintain security on the roads throughout Ninewa province.
By taking time to interact with “Long Knife” troopers of 4th AAB both in the field and on post, Chandler demonstrated to the soldiers at the most basic level that they are valuable to the Army’s overall mission and have a voice in the enaction of policies set down from the upper echelons of Army, said Command Sgt. Maj. Antoine Overstreet, senior enlisted leader of 4th AAB.
“Soldiers need to see their senior leadership and have that opportunity to interact and share ideas with them openly about the future of our military,” Overstreet said. “I’m sure he is very proud of the work and the job the 4th AAB has done during their tenure here in Mosul, Iraq, in support of Operation New Dawn.”
Pfc. Daniel Garcia, Company A, 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th AAB, said Chandler’s views on the Army’s standards and expectation of excellence reinforced his desire to distinguish himself and further his military career.
“This was an experience for a (junior) enlisted soldier like me,” said the Los Angeles native. “I never met anyone higher up in the command than my brigade commander and command sergeant major. For a soldier like me, he reminded me I had to focus on education and career progression. To get anywhere in the Army, you have to have an education.”
By personally meeting with soldiers deployed to northern Iraq, Chandler demonstrated his commitment to the betterment of all of the men and women within the rank and file of the Army, said Staff Sgt. Adam Cunningham, Battery A, 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th AAB.
“He didn’t beat around the bush with his answers,” said Cunningham, a Mason, Ky., native who participated in the town hall meeting. “He gave us straight forward answers; either ‘I do know,’ ‘I don’t know,’ or ‘I will find the answer.’”
Cunningham said by visiting troops in Iraq, Chandler proved he is not above coming to the field to make sure his soldiers know him and have their voices heard.