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Sergeant Major of the Army visits USSOCOM access

by Jennifer Whittle
U.S. Special Operations Command Public Affairs
Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth Preston discusses on personnel with the leadership at USSOCOMM.

We are an Army at war for a nation that is at war," said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston during his visit to U.S. Special Operations Command March 10.

"Our soldiers are the best trained, the best equipped-and their morale is high. We are a combat land force and we are ready to do what the ground commander needs."

Sergeant Major Preston, the 13th sergeant major of the Army, arrived at MacDill with a full schedule that began with meeting soldiers for breakfast, visiting U.S. Central Command, visiting SOCOM, and attending the Association of the U.S. Army Noncommissioned Officer of the Year luncheon as guest speaker. He concluded his trip with a press opportunity with local television and print media.

Sergeant Major Preston was sworn in Jan. 15 as Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker's personal adviser on all Army enlisted issues like training, equipment and quality of life.

"I came here to introduce myself, talk to you, hear any concerns and let you know what is going on at the Pentagon," Sergeant Major Preston told soldiers at USSOCOM. He answered questions about up-and-coming changes in the Army uniform and quality of life issues like shorter deployments and longer stays at military installations for Army families. Officials are looking at improved uniforms that have more pockets and better fit and working on policies that reduce the change of stations for Army families by extending tours from three years to six.

The idea is for Soldiers to make homes as the Army fights in the Global War on Terrorism.

"I recently testified before Congress… and spoke with delegates on the Hill and I told them that after being on the ground with the troops in Iraq, that I couldn't have hand-picked a better team," Sergeant Major Preston said. "The soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines are first class. They are ambassadors for this country. The team is joint and will remain joint in everything we do."

He compared the actions of soldiers today to the professional soldiers of another era.

"You know, when I think of Europe in 1939, democracy wasn't there. It is now. The men who fought in World War II were the 'greatest generation.' The troops on the ground fighting terrorism today are what I call the 'next greatest generation,'" said Sergeant Major Preston, who returned from Iraq in December where he served as the command sergeant major of Combined Joint Task Force 7.

He feels that soldiers are making better lives for the Iraqi people. In downtown Baghdad, Iraq, Sergeant Major Preston said one can see satellite dishes on nearly every other home.

"There are Internet connections and cell phones now," he said. "Once these people see how others live in the world, the globalization process will speed up. I have seen the country change for the better firsthand…It's kind of like football.

Operation Iraqi Freedom carried the ball at first. We are advancing the ball now."

Sergeant Major Preston also spoke about the Army transformation.

"Traditionally we were division-oriented. Now we are focusing on brigades-units of action. The brigades will deploy on their own, operate independently and plug into theater assets."

He reiterated the Warrior Ethos. "Mission comes first. Never accept defeat. Never quit. And never leave a fallen comrade," he said. "This is what our soldiers take to heart. These are the priorities."

 

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