Farewell from the Outgoing 108th Commanding General

Maj. Gen. Andrew Juknelis

Hail and farewell, Soldiers, Army civilians, family members and friends! It’s been my great honor to lead this magnificent team of teams for nearly three years! I’ve encountered the kind of camaraderie and tradition that is important and only found in our Army.  Thank you for following me and always making me feel a welcome part of all the events with our Soldiers.  One key tenet of my command philosophy (as I hope you already know!) is the importance of maintaining a positive command climate; the exercise of positive leadership. Soldiers (and everyone, really, including myself) want to associate with positive, successful leaders.  Success breeds success; winning matters.  I might have told you about a grumpy old CSM I met when I was a LTC on active duty… all my Soldiers scattered like roaches whenever he came into my HQ.  I thought, “Holy cow, they can’t stand this guy!  How can he reach them or lead them if they’re always hiding from him?!?” Compare that to, say, CSM Pierce, CSM Kaim, CSM Edwards, CSM Mooso, and all the exemplary NCOs on our team. I dare say, we actually LIKE them! I know, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true!  You can learn and grow by engaging with these fine leaders.  It’s been a joy to watch.  Did you all know that the 108th TC leads USARC in Recruiting and Retention this year? Is it any wonder? This is a great place to work, and it’s allowed to be fun; you’re allowed (and even encouraged) to LIKE the people you work with.  In fact, I’d prefer if you would.  Frankly, I think it makes our Soldiers more productive when they can enjoy their jobs and enjoy coming to work.  I don’t know… maybe I’m getting to the end of my tenure, only about a month left, so I’m feeling sort of nostalgic for you all.  I’m going to miss you and everyone within the 108th Training Command and our excellent Training Divisions.

Back to the command climate for a minute… you are doing it right! I’ve said before that everywhere I go, I find an engaged command and staff that is fun to be around.  It’s a great team.  I appreciate the way you continually work together to solve problems, complete missions, meet suspenses, and get things done.  And, may I add, all this without an oppressive, heavy-handed metrics focus.  I encourage you all to read the CAR’s recent article on Metrics and the USR, but I’m sure you have.  Regardless, you’ve been living by that anyway.  I take great pride when other units like Cadet Command, USMA, and TRADOC ask specifically for 108th TC Soldiers to conduct their training, which is a regular for you all.  I think you’ll agree with me that your Soldiers will take the responsibility to keep their own metrics straight when it’s a requirement to travel on mission and they like going on mission, so they do it!  So much easier that way!! We’ve been getting a lot of good engagement lately with the Future Soldier Preparatory Course where TRADOC is looking for more of our instructors and Drill Sergeants to help improve new Recruits’ ASVAB and physical readiness.  You are wanted out there in the force.  This is your chance to put your own imprint on the command climate and policy throughout the Initial Entry Training sphere. This is all new.  If you don’t like something the way it is, now’s your chance to create change.  Try it. Try something else. Experiment. Make this into a place where you and other Soldiers would want to work every day. That’s what helps productivity, recruiting, and retention.  I know you’re doing that already. Please keep that up and have fun with it.  

Speaking of Army traditions: One thing I’d always loved about visiting the people in our Divisions is their knowledge about their lineage and the history of the unit to whom they belong; the pride they take in their unit. I see everyone with their active-duty combat patches and I know you think of that as representing “my old unit,” which it is, of course. I hope that it gives you another sense of pride when you consider that all Veterans from our formation, like General “Terrible” Terry Allen who commanded the 104th in WW2, for example, consider them HIS “old unit!” So, wear your patch with pride, and live up to their expectations.  You are all really part of something special. I encourage you all to dig in and check out your unit lineage.  I think you’ll be as impressed with yourselves as I am. 

Recently, CSM Mooso and I spoke at the Battalion/Brigade Commanders Pre-Command Course at Ft Leavenworth. I saw several of our past and presently incoming Commanders and CSMs there.  I’m very proud of these Commanders and CSMs that have accepted the mantle of responsibility (just as I am proud of you that are here). Command is a little extra work and responsibility for no extra pay, but it’s a lot of fun and I strongly recommend you volunteer yourself!  I want to leave you with just a few of the messages that we tried to impart to the class. I’ve learned the hard way.  1.) First of all, lead and speak from the heart; be yourself.  Don’t try to change it up and act like you think a leader is supposed to act. The reason the Army promoted you or selected you for leadership is that they like they way you are and we expect you to keep doing it that way. 2.) On my round-the-world Capstone trip, we had a small group session with every one of the 4-star Combatant Commanders. Without exception, every one of them emphasized the importance of high-quality personal relationships with your peers and mentors.  It wasn’t the #1 takeaway I expected from all the DOD’s strategic leadership, but there it was.  Maintain your network.  You never know when you’re going to need a friend.  General Scaparrotti had said, “The relationship between commanders is more important than the Command Relationships.”  I love that one; you might have to think about it for a bit.  3.) Volunteer for everything and get exposed to as many different things as you can… the joint force, foreign countries, strategic level exercises, other commands, other branches. I know the age-old Army expression “Don’t volunteer for nothing!” is cheeky, but it’s not true if you want to advance, make new friends, and have fun.  A senior leader once advised me, “Commander, you don’t need to be everywhere at once, BUT it should appear that you are!”

Well, I feel like I’ve rambled on enough.  I could go on, but I won’t. I invite you to include me in your network if you ever need anything in the future.  My next assignment is back in Korea.  I love it there and I would love to hear from you even it’s just to know how you’re doing.  Or if you want advice on any topic.  I’ll even proofread your War College papers! Keep up the great work here. Keep having fun, and try to make it fun for your families, too!  If you do it right, they’ll be around long after you leave the Army.  Carry on. First in Training!

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