SMA Visits Soldiers in the Horn of Africa
The 14th Sergeant Major of the Army made his first trip to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, visiting soldiers with Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa and other units on camp, December 16.
His visit afforded him the opportunity to discuss various important topics with soldiers stationed here.
"I want to talk to you about what's going on in the Army and where it's going in the future," said Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III. "We've been working an idea - relearning what it means to be a professional."
Chandler explained how in some aspects, soldiers are the same as any professional in the world and the devotion to professionalism engenders trust among Americans.
"The American people implicitly trust you because you wear this uniform to support the (U.S.) Constitution and defend the American people in our nation's wars," he said. "They believe you're going to do what's right."
Maintaining the trust of the American people is what defines a soldier as a professional Chandler said. A soldier must have character. They do what they are supposed to do all the time. It's a constant challenge for a soldier is being true to themselves and the uniform they wear he added.
One thing Chandler passed on throughout the visit was the importance of professional pride and how it's everyone's responsibility to maintain high standards. He said he tries leading by example, not direction. As the senior enlisted member of the Army, Chandler wants to be remembered for taking care of the soldiers who come after him. The future of the Army rests with them.
"I try to do what is right and take care of soldiers and their families," Chandler said. "You'll decide my legacy, not me."
Chandler also noted part of being professional was maintaining a professional appearance and physical fitness. He encouraged soldiers to break the mold of physical fitness and push themselves to new heights.
An ongoing challenge the Army faces is developing and improving the fitness level of all its soldiers, said Chandler. He would like to move away from a physical fitness test to a physical readiness test.
A physical fitness test measures specific areas of a soldier's body, while the physical readiness test would measures muscle strength and endurance of the entire body. The battlefield today requires soldiers to be dynamic, focusing on challenges presented to the entire body and mind he said, and emphasized appearance and fitness have everything to do with professionalism. His goal is to develop a fighting force capable of handling any possible situation that could arise at any time.
"This is the standard," he said. "And this is all about meeting a standard that's even more difficult."
While meeting the Army standards is a cornerstone of professionalism, there are still other aspects to consider when developing a soldier, Chandler said.
Soldiers' development is about commitment, selfless service and confidence he said. Chandler added that he wants every soldier to fulfill the obligation they signed up for - to realize they personally come last and to gain the confidence to do their job right.
"I hope the younger generation of soldiers took away the intent of his part on professionalism," said U.S. Army 1st Sergeant Steven Sprawka, 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery. "We need to get back to the basics and be professional soldiers."