It was no April Fool’s joke. The sergeant major of the Army and the command sergeant major for the Army National Guard visited troops at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, on April 1, 2012.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler and Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Burch spoke with, and listened to feedback from, current and future noncommissioned officers from the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade and other units.
The sergeant major of the Army serves as the most senior enlisted member of the Army and as a spokesperson for matters pertaining to Soldiers. The Army appointed the first sergeant major of the Army, Sgt. Maj. William Wooldridge, a Vietnam veteran from the 1st Infantry Division, in July 1966.
Since Wooldridge, there have been 13 other Sergeants Major of the Army the most recent being Raymond Chandler, who also served in the 1st Infantry Division. While having dinner with National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers in Camp Buehring’s dining facility, Burch presented coins to deserving individuals.
“Recent legislative changes have now made the Army Reserve available to the states,” said Burch. “We need to make sure we meet the demands of our families, meet the demands of our employers and meet the demands of our nation, to answer the call.”
Throughout the day Chandler visited many groups of Soldiers, from a Warrior Leader Course class to senior enlisted leadership at all levels of the brigade.
“I trust you. Even if I don’t know you, because you wear the uniform of a United States Soldier,” said Chandler. “That’s why the American people respect us, because they trust us to do what we say we’re going to do.”
Chandler spoke with NCOs about a few large issues including hazing, sexual assault and the downsizing of the Army.
“You have a creed, something you’re supposed to know that defines you specifically as an NCO. No one is more professional then I,” said Chandler. “Be the professional and have the courage to say that’s not ok. The objective of the Army is to eliminate sexual assault. Our objective is to be the standard-bearer for America.”
“Are those words you shout, or are they something you believe in? If we accept that any Soldier in our Army isn’t safe from other Soldiers, we failed,” said Chandler. “Unless you are willing to be responsible for your Soldiers and to ensure that the culture inside your formation says that this is not ok, we’re never going change this thing.”