The Bayonet

Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2014

SMA talks Army future

Refined budget, fewer deployments, more training coming

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FORT STEWART, Ga. — Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III spent Thursday and Friday at Fort Stewart, observing training and talking to Soldiers about the future of the Army.

Changes are coming to the Army by way of a refined budget, fewer deployments and an overall reset and evaluation of our Soldier assets. These were some of the topics discussed during Chandler’s visit to the home of the 3rd Infantry Division.

“The first thing Soldiers need to recognize is we’ll be transitioning from an Army of execution, deployments into combat zones, to an Army of preparation where we’ll be doing a lot more training at posts, camps and stations and our training centers in order to meet the needs of the nation,” Chandler said.

What this boils down to is a smaller, more fit and capable force working with a smaller budget to maintain the nation’s security goals, he said.

The plan to accomplish these goals is ultimately through quality leaders training and retaining the best Soldiers the nation has to offer. To meet that goal, physical standards are being developed at Fort Stewart and elsewhere to set the bar for Soldiers. Gone are the days of “good enough.”

“The American people expect more from us,” Chandler said while visiting with Soldiers taking part in the development of those standards. “We are an Army of action, we get things done.

“We’re in the testing phase to ensure that we have the physical demands that each Soldier needs to perform to meet the needs of their MOS (military occupational specialty).”

Dr. Edward J. Zambraski, division chief of the Military Performance Division, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, is at Fort Stewart to oversee the testing and ensure the research is sound.

He said skeletal muscular injuries are the number one medical problem effecting the greatest number of individuals, resulting in the most lost duty time, medical costs to the Army, and medical disability discharge rate.

Ultimately, the findings may play an instrumental role in shaping the Soldier of 2020 by placing them in the MOS that will most benefit the Army based on their emotional, intellectual and physical abilities.

In addition to his concerns for the Soldiers of the future, Chandler also took time to address the concerns for current Soldiers who will be transitioning out of the Army and back into a civilian community.

“The most important thing is to understand we have a program called ACAP (Army Career and Alumni Program), which has very specific goals in order to help Soldiers identify what they want to do and provide them a path to get there,” he said.

During a town hall meeting with Soldiers, family members and Department of the Army Civilians, Chandler addressed several questions from those concerned about possible pay and benefit changes discussed in the media.

“I’d ask all Soldiers to know what the truth is, that means you need to do some research,” Chandler said. “Educate yourself. Look at official Army news service to understand exactly what was submitted. We have submitted a budget, which causes some slowing of the rate of growth across the force so we can have a better, more ready force.”

Ultimately, he said, the young Soldiers he met at Fort Stewart would inherit the responsibility of leading the Army.

“The Army I love is in good hands, your hands,” he said to a group of future leaders prior to their Warrior Leader Course graduation.

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