05/06/2021 | Maj. Gen. Andrew Juknelis Commanding General, 108th Training Command (IET)
From the Commanding General
We started with a Leadership Readiness Forum that Command Sgt. Maj. Priest hosted for all the senior NCOs in the command. The Keynote speaker was Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson from our training partners at the Center for Initial Military Training (CIMT). In Afghanistan in 2008, Command Sgt. Maj. Beeson was the Company 1st Sgt. of Chosen Company, 2/503 IN Regt and his presentation was of lessons learned documented in Gregg Zoroyo’s The Chosen Few: A Company of Paratroopers and Its Heroic Struggle to Survive in the Mountains of Afghanistan, was both riveting and heart wrenching. America is fortunate to have such Warriors in our ranks.
After a year in CONUS dealing with COVID, civil unrest, election irregularities, media sensationalism and corrosive behaviors, hearing Command Sgt. Maj. Beeson speak of his remarkably inspirational personal experiences alongside his Soldiers in the Battle of Wanat, I knew I needed to get out and spend time on the trail with our Soldiers. The symposium was fantastic, and it was a joy to discuss military matters of tenacity, bravery, and valor with our professional NCO Corps. I was thoroughly energized and motivated.
From there, I was able to attend the 98th Training Division’s BWC at Ft. Jackson, hosted by Col. Theron Spurgeon and Command Sgt. Maj. Lorraine Smith of 2nd BDE. The field was crowded with eager young Drill Sergeants, NCOs, and Junior Enlisted Soldiers competing, yet still encouraging one another, through a rigorous confidence obstacle course, day and night land nav, long cold road marches, hot ranges, the new ACFT, and much more. I’m telling you: even General Officers need encouragement sometimes and these Soldiers make me totally psyched! These are the Warriors you want around you and the ones you want training America’s sons and daughters at our Army Training Centers. The top competitors from the 98th went with me to our 108th Training Command BWC where “Iron Sharpens Iron!” Here, I must recognize and congratulate the top 3 competitors to represent the 108th TC for 2021: Drill Sergeant of the Year, Sgt. Parada; NCO of the Year, Sgt. Blackmer; and Soldier of the Year, Spc. Gutierrez. (Hat tip to the 95th Training Division for their strong finish again this year!) We had a highly spirited and energetic event attended and proudly executed by all the Training Divisions and our Command HQ.
As if the NCO competitions weren’t enough, the Sandhurst Competition is back on the schedule at the US Military Academy at West Point and dozens of our Drill Sergeants and Senior Trainers from the 104th Training Division serve as trainers, evaluators,and safeties throughout the event. USMA and US Army Cadet Command simply could not conduct much of their officer training without the heroic contribution from our professional Noncommissioned Officers. You’re the stuff of legends and many of you are the first NCOs that these young Cadets will meet; you provide the example they will carry on forever. I honestly swell with pride watching 108th Training Command NCOs engage and interact with the Cadets on the ranges and training lanes. I graduated there almost 32 years ago, and I remember when it was me on the other end.
I can’t thank you all enough for your dedication to our serious and important mission. We’re about to blast into major summertime training and we’ve got a lot of work to do. Don’t let a year cooped up against COVID, physically and socially distanced, and pounded by the media leave you depressed, frustrated, angry, or divided from your squadmates! Treat everyone with dignity and respect. Let’s get back to training with a positive energy such that we reject those harmful behaviors that degrade the trust that you deserve from the American people. I’m honored to be in your squad!
First in Training!