CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – More than 600 soldiers attended a recent town hall hosted by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III. The senior enlisted adviser discussed his character, competence, commitment platform and answered questions from soldiers.
The SMA said interactive town halls create a productive dialog between the policy and decision-makers and the boots-on-the-ground soldiers who conduct the training, use the equipment and benefit from the programs.
Chandler’s top discussion points were related to professionalism and the curbing of suicides, hazing and sexual assaults. He noted that the number of suicides was down from recent highs but stressed the continued need for vigilance and engaged leadership.
“What I think is important for soldiers to understand is that all I am asking them to do is look out for one another, keep people out of harm’s way, and do what’s right – which is to take care of your battle buddy and make our Army stronger,” said Chandler.
He also reminded soldiers that there was no shame in utilizing available resources to help them cope with the stressors of being deployed or behavioral health issues. He recommended they incorporate principles of the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness and U.S. Army Ready and Resilient program into their daily routines.
In regard to hazing and sexual assaults, he said that 99 percent of the Army was doing the right thing, but there are those who engage in criminal behaviors amongst the ranks, and they must be removed from the military and held responsible for their actions.
During the town hall, concern was raised over the budgetary restrictions put in place by the sequestration and the downsizing of the force. Chandler emphatically assured the troops that no matter the mission, this Army would find a way to complete it, but he did concede that the Army would be operating with a smaller budget and a smaller force.
“Budget cuts and sequestration are really out of the Army’s control. Our job is to take what we are given and build the most professional and effective Army possible. We’ve got less money coming towards us than we have in the past, and that’s because the American people have decided there are needs within the United States that need to be addressed,” said Chandler.
In order to continue to meet the needs of the nation, he said the Army must retain the soldiers who exceed the standards.
“If you want to stay with the team, the Army team, then we are going to expect you to maintain a standard of excellence in all that you do - both on and off duty. If you do that, you will still have an opportunity to serve in the Army. If you don’t, we’re going to have to ask you to leave in order to retain the best,” said Chandler.
Moving beyond the effects of sequestration on the Army, the SMA urged soldiers to practice sound financial readiness and plan to provide for themselves and their families should the government temporarily shut down in early October. He said it was a possibility, and he wanted them to be prepared.
The town hall wrapped up on a positive note as several soldiers were pulled from units across U.S. Army Central to receive the SMA’s coin for their individual efforts. Chandler said they reflected the impressive accomplishments soldiers were carrying out on a daily basis across the force.