Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Sergeant major of Army says big transformation under way
Sierra Vista Herald, Sierra Vista Arizona ^ | Feb 25, 2006 | Bill Hess

Posted on 02/25/2006 12:51:25 PM PST by SandRat

FORT HUACHUCA — This year and next will be the toughest for the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, the service’s top enlisted soldier said Friday.

Equating too many things coming together at once to the movie “The Perfect Storm,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston said the Army is in the midst of a major transformation of creating more brigade combat teams, movement of forces from overseas locations, base closures and realignments, recruiting more soldiers and continuing to fight terrorism.

What cannot be lost is protecting the nation, he told nearly 700 noncommissioned soldiers and officers during a professional development session held in Eifler Gym.

“The next two years will be trying,” Preston said, adding it will continue to be difficult for the United States to work its way out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Saying his crystal ball hasn’t told him how things will go when it comes to leaving Iraq and Afghanistan, Preston said it does take a while to turn over an area.

For instance, he said six years ago 14,000 American soldiers were in Kosovo. Now the number is down to about 1,500.

The Army has to work on many issues at once. It is successful is due to the leadership of those wearing the uniforms, especially the NCO Corps, he said.

This is Preston’s third visit to the fort. This time he was invited to tour the Intelligence Center by the center and Fort Huachuca Command Sgt. Maj. Franklin Saunders.

In the past he visited Signal Corps units and other organizations.

Preston arrived Thursday and spoke with the fort’s senior leadership, NCO and officer.

On Friday, he toured facilities at the Intelligence Center, including early-morning physical training with some soldiers.

He also visited some classified facilities where he saw new intelligence equipment being developed to help in the war against terrorism and other needs.

What is happening on Fort Huachuca is part of the Army’s transformation, and the training and new equipment are integral parts of how the Army will fight, he said.

He had lunch with members of the fort’s Sgt. Audie Murphy Club after the forum.

The club is an organization of NCOs who go through an arduous selection process. Murphy was the most highly-decorated soldier of World War II.

During a short meeting with media before he left Friday, Preston said, “Soldiers are highly motivated.”

The success of the Army is due to all ranks of soldiers.

During the after luncheon comment period and during the gymnasium talk, the Army’s top enlisted soldier said garnering people to enlist is hard.

“It’s no secret the Army is all volunteer,” Preston said.

Keeping soldiers in to be the core as new people enlist is a balancing act, he said.

And never did he expect that high bonuses would be paid to senior NCOs who had 18 years service to keep them in the Army.

In the past, a senior NCO with 18 years of service would stay for the last two years to retire.

But now some civilian contractors are enticing soldiers with special operations background with six-figure pay, he said.

That has led the Army to offer $150,000 bonuses to special operations NCOs to re-enlist for six years, Preston said.

As the Army senior soldier adviser to Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoonmaker, Preston is responsible for enlisted related matters, soldier training and quality of life issues.

The No. 1 mission of the Army is fighting the global war on terrorism, but within that job the service is restructuring itself, Preston said

With an active-duty Army of about 492,000 people, the service depends on the 120,000 National Guard and Reserve soldiers who are an important part of combating terrorism, he said.

To make the Army an even better fighting force, it is going through a major transformation process, changing the Cold War structure to one that is more responsive to today’s situations.

“The Army is becoming more expeditionary,” he said

The structure of the force also is becoming more modular, meaning it will have self-contained fighting and support forces, the sergeant major of the Army said.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Army was designed to fight the Soviets and the structure was heavy on tanks, artillery and infantry but now the force has to be lighter while keeping its lethality, said Preston, whose early career included stints as a cavalry scout and tank commander.

As the Army continues to transform the result will be units that “are more rounded and ready,” he said.

A few years ago the Army had 33 brigades, and with the planned restructuring there will be 42 brigade combat teams that will be slightly smaller in manpower but have more of a combat punch, Preston said.

Admitting in the past couple of years there has been some recruitment problems, Preston said part of the reason was the nation’s senior service increased the number of people it was seek- ing.

However, the base number of 72,000 a year was always made and slightly increased, Preston said.

Another concern for those who serve is the number of deployments soldiers find themselves doing.

Sometimes a unit deploys for a year, comes back and has a year “to get well,” Preston said.

That includes returning to their families. More than 51 percent of soldiers are married.

For some units, the turnaround between deployments is nine months, six months and sometimes as quick as three months, Preston said.

Responding to a question from a NCO in the gymnasium about when there will be some better stability between deployments, he said the senior leadership, which includes himself, is working on the issue.

But the solution is not completely in sight.

Once the transformation is complete, there will be more stability, including longer tours with a unit, Preston said.

Going from a high density and low demand unit to one that will be part of a low density and high demand organization is the Army’s goal.

The Cold War Army was high density, meaning major weapon systems to respond to what would probably be a low demand use.

But since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Army has responded to 44 global operations, most of which were low density — meaning a more compact unit capable of doing many requirements — with a higher demand for their use, Preston said.

If a soldier went into the woods and was told to make a path more than a quarter of a century ago, he would have a saw and ax to cut down trees.

But because of the different missions a soldier may be called upon today, they must have a better tool box that includes items “to build a cabin or a Stradivarius violin,” Preston said.

Today, soldiers serve in units that may be involved in full combat and then go on to peacekeeping and humanitarian support without redeploying.

Other stability plans are for soldiers to be assigned to a unit for three years before being reassigned to another post.

Soldiers can extend the initial assignment for another three years or even longer, providing families with more stability as well, Preston said.

This will help spouses to not just find temporary jobs but become engaged in careers, and for older children of soldiers provide them a base for their education, especially when they are high school age, he said.

As for the current situation in Iraq, where clashes between Sunni and Sh’ia Muslims have turned ugly, Preston said that soldiers who are in that nation will continue to do their jobs.

When Iraq will settle down and American troops can leave remains the big unknown.

“It just will take time,” he said.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Government; US: Arizona; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: army; big; major; sergeant; sma; transformation; underway

1 posted on 02/25/2006 12:51:30 PM PST by SandRat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: 2LT Radix jr; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub; 80 Square Miles; A Ruckus of Dogs; acad1228; AirForceMom; ..

The SMA's words and view on current events.


2 posted on 02/25/2006 12:52:11 PM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

I'm impresseed!


3 posted on 02/25/2006 1:06:17 PM PST by malia (The Impeached x42 clinton - a Paper Tiger President! MSM - bottom feeders! What a team!!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat
The substance of the Sgt. Majs remarks are worth a lot of thought. Can we keep all the balls in the air all the time everywhere? Are we keeping focused on protecting the nation? Are the personnel issues being resolved and in a timely manner?
4 posted on 02/25/2006 1:24:17 PM PST by TWhiteBear (Down is now officially up. The New York Times said so)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat
With an active-duty Army of about 492,000 people, the service depends on the 120,000 National Guard and Reserve soldiers who are an important part of combating terrorism, he said.

Thank Bill Clinton.

His 1993 Reduction in Forces (RIF) Act reduced the U. S. Army by 40%. To justify these outrageous cuts, Army doctrine was amended to elevate the reserve components readiness in times of emergency.
5 posted on 02/25/2006 1:24:45 PM PST by Beckwith (The liberal press has picked sides ... and they have sided with the Islamofascists)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

"More than 51 percent of soldiers are married."

Way too many...


6 posted on 02/25/2006 1:25:36 PM PST by dakine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dakine

"More than 51 percent of soldiers are married."

"Way too many..."


True, it would good if we could go back to envisioning the perfect warrior, then try to stay as close to that ideal as possible. We should fight every compromise we can, and only accept the ones we can't overcome, your suggestion is almost the first place I would start.


7 posted on 02/25/2006 1:57:32 PM PST by ansel12
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: SandRat
Sandrat et al.:

Im in MIOBC out here and loving SE Arizona. I will be done 31 MAY 06 unless I can get into Counter Intelligence Class (35E).

Maybe some SE AZ Freepers can get together and we can eat at Dawns Pancake House or Cafe Ole for B-Fast?

8 posted on 02/25/2006 3:18:23 PM PST by DCBryan1 ( MI: "Always Out Front!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ansel12; dakine
"More than 51 percent of soldiers are married."

"Way too many..."

True, it would good if we could go back to envisioning the perfect warrior, blah blah blah

Utter nonsense. You would deny soldiers the right to marry? Won't have many soldiers after that, I'm afraid. People don't join the military just to fight; they also join to meet the goals they have set for themselves, be it college, supporting a family, etc.

Some people on these boards have a completely unrealistic view of the military and what they are all about. Starship Troopers it ain't.

9 posted on 02/25/2006 3:25:45 PM PST by Alien Gunfighter (Mark Steyn is my hero!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Alien Gunfighter

"Some people on these boards have a completely unrealistic view of the military"


True...


10 posted on 02/25/2006 3:27:58 PM PST by dakine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Alien Gunfighter

"Some people on these boards have a completely unrealistic view of the military"


True...


11 posted on 02/25/2006 3:27:59 PM PST by dakine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: All
Regarding married people in the military.

During WWII the English noticed that people rescued after an extended period of immersion in cold water contained a disproportionate number of older men. In studying this they finally concluded that an older married man, with a family at home, had something to return to that caused them to have a higher will to live...while the younger, unmarried me didn't have that same personal anchor.

I know that I couldn't have done over 30 years service without my wife and sons at my side.

12 posted on 02/25/2006 3:35:12 PM PST by CWOJackson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Beckwith

The numbers quoted there are wrong. More like 492,000 regulars and 520,000 total reservists (heck Texas, California and Pennsylvania each have a national guard division). Still not enough, but not as bad as the article makes it sound.


13 posted on 02/25/2006 3:36:07 PM PST by 91B (God made man, Sam Colt made men equal.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Alien Gunfighter
Some people on these boards have a completely unrealistic view of the military and what they are all about. Starship Troopers it ain't.

Well, I don't have an unrealistic view of the military and I say that, unless you are some severe Air Force-type REMF, your time in the military is a bad time to be married, and even then it's probably not a great idea. For those who do not plan to make a career of it, they should not even consider being married while in. The time in the field, the hours kept, and the general goings-on around military bases make things fairly inhospitable for marriages to survive. And that's in peace time. In time of war, there is a severely increased risk of wives being made widows and kids being made fatherless (or motherless).

For those who are going career, marriage while in the service is the only option if you want to be married at all. So be it. The pay is generally only good enough to raise a family on if you're upper-enlisted or office corps anyway.
14 posted on 02/25/2006 3:52:19 PM PST by fr_freak
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

I may get flamed, but mandatory service would be just fine with me. The more of my 17 yr old sons' classmates I meet convinces me they need a kick in the ass.


15 posted on 02/25/2006 3:58:37 PM PST by lawnguy (Give me some of your tots!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat
The SMA's words and view on current events.

I wonder if this dog has transformed himself from a womanizer who shamelessly cheats upon his wife? What a tarnished sterling example for our soldiers.

16 posted on 02/25/2006 4:13:44 PM PST by Lion Den Dan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: DCBryan1; HiJinx; Spiff

Ok guys let's start negotiating time and date.


17 posted on 02/25/2006 4:21:09 PM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: lawnguy

I'd agree so long as every got 2 years enlisted time and then they can decide to get out, stay in enlisted or try for those gold bars/silver bars with the single black dot on 'em.


18 posted on 02/25/2006 4:24:53 PM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Lion Den Dan

ooooohhh,.... you have dirt? Peyton Place Us.


19 posted on 02/25/2006 4:25:50 PM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: TWhiteBear

I was reading some of the forums on Army AKO and read that the active Army is making a large number of MOS 42A and 42L's reclassify. Seems like the plan is for civilian employees to perform the jobs at garrisons in the States.

Never thought I would see Unit Clerks and Military Personnal shops being outsourced.


20 posted on 02/25/2006 4:31:41 PM PST by Swiss
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: fr_freak
First of all, there are REMF's in every branch. And contrary to what the news would have you believe, not everyone is out fighting the war. There are people working in Supply Corps, people working bases in the Midwest, people at the other end of the world in Japan, people scattered throughout Europe working telecommunication stations (yes, the military still has those). These people shouldn't marry, if they so choose?

Second, people joining the military are of that age range where they are looking for a partner (if they aren't married already). Many don't marry, but there are those that do. If you deny that to them, they will quit or will marry in secret. Period. The Marines found that out a few years ago when they decreed that no one below a certain rank would be allowed to marry.

Third, the general "goings-on" around military bases assumes that military families live on base. Most families do not. I never have. Those places are for the single guys and for the people looking to take their money.

Fourth, people work long hours in many jobs outside of the military. Does that mean they shouldn't marry? There are also dangerous jobs outside of the military, such as police and firefighting, not to mention construction, running liquor stores and convenience marts in certain areas, etc. Should those people also avoid marriage., just because their wives may become widows?

Futhermore, the pay is not the same as it was in the 80s. Being married and raising a family is a viable option. But as in other careers, you cannot outbreed your paycheck. You cannot raise a family of six on an E-4's salary any more than you could on a McDonald's salary.

Deny a soldier his rights, and he won't care if you have any. Deny a man to marry because of his occupation, and he'll either defy you and marry anyway or find a different occupation.

21 posted on 02/25/2006 5:00:20 PM PST by Alien Gunfighter (Mark Steyn is my hero!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: fr_freak; Alien Gunfighter

Don't know about others but I married my wife when I was a SPEC 4, she was 19 years old and I moved her half way around the world. Two years later I got out, we both graduated from college, have seen a good bit of the world and tomorrow is 34 years.


22 posted on 02/25/2006 5:08:14 PM PST by HoustonCurmudgeon (Justice and "The Law" are not always the same thing.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Alien Gunfighter

"Some people on these boards have a completely unrealistic view of the military and what they are all about. Starship Troopers it ain't."

In my wildest dreams I never thought I would ever be accused of having a completely unrealistic view of the military. I have had a life long, passionate interest in the military, two Honorable Discharges, and this year was told by an Army recruiter I'm just too old to go for a third. I didn't mean that the military would only consist of single men (I even said that wasn't my top priority), I simply meant that it is an incredible burden to accept recruits with no consideration for costs, and complications of bringing in family. Is it really arguable that a young single male is preferable to the same male with a wife and kids? With rank or time in service of course people will pick up wives, but they will be in a better position to take care of those families. To accept a situation where desperate failing families are encouraged to get one of their members enlisted so they can find a secure environment of benefits, pediatricians, gynecologists, off post housing, and separate rations, just doesn't seem to be a completely realistic view of the military and what they are all about.


23 posted on 02/25/2006 5:50:59 PM PST by ansel12
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Alien Gunfighter
Deny a soldier his rights, and he won't care if you have any.

Deny a soldier his rights? The military OWNS you when you sign those papers. Do you have free speech in the military? Do you have freedom of assembly? Protection against searches and seizures? Hell no. But this one thing will make a soldier turn his back on serving?

There are REMFs in every branch, but the Air Force makes the others look like amateurs. In any case, I specifically said that the REMFs are the only ones who should even consider marriage, because at least they'll be home most of the time.

Let me be blunt about this: if you're a young grunt who got married and joined up so you'd have a paycheck for a family, then you're sent off to a one-year deployment in the Middle East, you better have picked yourself a wife with the most impeccable character imaginable, because a year is a long time for her to be alone amongst all of the young men who aren't in the Middle East.
24 posted on 02/25/2006 7:22:16 PM PST by fr_freak
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: fr_freak
Deny a soldier his rights? The military OWNS you when you sign those papers.

I'm not talking about artificially-constructed human rights, such as those enumerated in the Constitution. I'm talking about denying him the things he would do naturally--pursuing his own interests, taking a spouse, etc.

And yes, the military "owns" you once you sign those papers, for however long. But it is not an absolute ownership, such as owning a car or a horse or a DVD player. Those in charge know better (or should know better) than to take that "ownership" too far. People can leave the military after their contract is up for any reason at all (or for no reason), and people will refuse to join if they think life under the yoke would be undesirable (as many already do). This is bad for the military on two counts--people with experience will leave, and no new blood will show up to replace them.

The ignoramuses in charge are already experimenting with this sort of social engineering (no marriage, curfews, de facto bans on drinking and smoking, etc), and it's going to bite them in the ass in the manner I've described above.

Go ahead, tell them they can't marry (or have a beer, or stay out past midnight, etc). See how many will be left after that. We'll have to bring back a draft.

25 posted on 02/25/2006 7:56:55 PM PST by Alien Gunfighter (Mark Steyn is my hero!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: ansel12
In my wildest dreams I never thought I would ever be accused of having a completely unrealistic view of the military.

Please note the qualifier "some."

I simply meant that it is an incredible burden to accept recruits with no consideration for costs, and complications of bringing in family.

Recruits are one thing--they already are not accepted if they have too high of a family burden (more than two kids, I think). However, I think it is incredibly stupid to deny a soldier as normal a life as possible, just to fulfill some romantic notion of what a soldier should be. Yes, it's incredibly inconvenient and costly for the military to deal with spouses and housing, but that's just the expense they're going to have to accept if they want to retain qualified people.

If the Pentagon number-crunchers were to institute such an idiotic plan, they'll probably be able to keep a few nutbags who want to stay bachelors forever. However, most people in the military above the age of 25 are married. Those are your senior people, the ones with the skills and knowledge, the ones the military needs to keep.

If I was told today that I had to get rid of my family or get out, I'd be on my way out. If, in that distant past, I had been told that I wasn't allowed to marry, I would have done my two years and left. I think that's the kind of answer you'd get out of just about anyone.

I'm still enlisted, and I'm watching with growing apprehension as the current leadership monkeys around with social engineering. Just because you can order someone to do something or to live their life a certain way doesn't mean you should. They'll reap the benefits, of course--another star is just around the corner for their "successes"--but it's going to bite them in the ass once young people start flooding out of the military in droves after their first enlistment.

26 posted on 02/25/2006 8:11:17 PM PST by Alien Gunfighter (Mark Steyn is my hero!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: DCBryan1
MI: "Always Out Front!"

And bent over.

Sorry. Couldn't resist ;-)

27 posted on 02/25/2006 8:27:56 PM PST by VeniVidiVici (What? Me worry?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Alien Gunfighter

Thanks for the response, but this may not be your best subject.


28 posted on 02/25/2006 8:29:21 PM PST by ansel12
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: ansel12
Thanks for the response, but this may not be your best subject.

On the contrary, it's near and dear. I'm a senior enlisted man, and unrealistic expectations of military commanders concerning the personal lives of junior personnel (because "I can order you to do it") is becoming a real concern. Retention isn't a problem right this very instant, but it's coming.

29 posted on 02/25/2006 8:39:15 PM PST by Alien Gunfighter (Mark Steyn is my hero!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Alien Gunfighter

Thanks for the gracious response, what kind of work do you do, in what kind of unit?


30 posted on 02/25/2006 8:47:41 PM PST by ansel12
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: SandRat

BTTT


31 posted on 02/26/2006 3:10:22 AM PST by E.G.C.
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson