To the Soldiers, Families and Civilians of the 108th Training Command, I thank you for the incredibly warm welcome you extended to me and my Family. Karen, Taylor, Thomas and I were humbled by the level of care and effort you took to make our transition so smooth. Moreover, I thank Maj. Gen. Purser for her extraordinary support in helping me to assume command of arguably the finest training command within the United States Army. Thanks Leslie.
The reputation of the 108th Training Command including the 95th Training Division, 98th Training Division and the 104th Training Division is far reaching and notable. Drawing on nearly 70 years of service, and in the case of the 98th almost 100 years, there is a legacy of service which is simply remarkable. And the torch of service has been passed to each of us by the giants who have gone before us. This responsibility is not to be taken lightly as we begin to ascend to the next level of excellence as we Plan, Prepare and Provide ready forces to the United States Army.
To be clear, my number one priority for the Command is readiness. Everything we are and everything we do must be focused upon our readiness. In my estimation, if we aren’t ready, we aren’t relevant! With readiness being the core of our efforts, it’s important for me to explain what I mean by readiness. There are four facets of readiness I want every member of the command to be aware of and apply effort to. The four facets of readiness for the 108th Training Command are as follows: Combat Readiness; Soldier Readiness; Family Readiness; and Safety Readiness.
First, Combat Readiness. You may be asking what does combat readiness have to do with the 108th since we are a TDA organization. Actually, it has everything to do with us. As we have an OPCON relationship with TRADOC, Combat Readiness is defined as our ability to conduct our mission of mobilizing and deploying the command to be THE capability to train the Army’s citizen-volunteers to be future Soldiers-both enlisted and officers, alike. To do this, we must build our drill sergeant and PMS/APMS strength. Our drill sergeants are the primary weapon system for the command-indeed they are our pacing item.
We must recruit and retain capable and competent non-commissioned officers to serve as an example of the best our Army offers. Indeed, our drill sergeants are the example of what right looks like, personifying the Army standard. They are anointed with being placed in positions of trust which set the conditions for success for all future Soldiers. The production of drill sergeants to meet the demand signal of our Army will be the main effort of the Command.
Second, Soldier Readiness. The unique aspect of the 108th Training Command is that it is comprised mostly of leaders. A leader being defined as a sergeant and above. As leaders, I expect that everyone will maintain their individual Soldier Readiness. This means being green in you personnel readiness, evaluation readiness, security readiness, medical readiness, dental readiness, fitness and weight readiness, equipment readiness and cyber readiness, to name a few. As leaders, it is incumbent upon each of us to expend the necessary time and energy to maintain a green status in each. To do so will require our leaders to accomplish much of this during time between Battle Assemblies. Simply stated, that’s what professionals do…and that’s no less the case within the 108th Training Command.
Third, Family Readiness. General Odierno said it best. The strength of our nation is our Army. The strength of our Army is our Soldiers [and Civilians]. The strength of our Soldiers [and Civilians] is our Families. That’s what makes us Army Strong! It is true. It IS our Families who support and sustain us as Soldiers in our great Army. Our Families doing so is no small task. In fact, I argue that our Families carry the heavier rucksack. For us as Soldiers, we only have to focus on our mission. While we are away, whether it is during BA, annual training or on a deployment, our Families must focus on everything else.
Many of our Families feel isolated and alone. They don’t sense the Army does anything more than take their Soldier from them from time to time. This is exactly why we must help our Families be ready and resilient to endure the challenges we face being a part of our Army. It is to each of us as Soldiers to encourage our Families to become equipped to handle the times of separation be it long term or short. Fort Family is just one avenue for education and support. Additionally, we have Army One Source and even better at the unit level are our Family Readiness Groups. As Soldiers, let’s help our Families as they do all they are doing to support you in your service to our Nation.
Fourth, Safety Readiness. Safety Readiness in my estimation is a cultural issue. We must change our culture within the 108th to embrace and embody safety in all we do-in uniform or out. We operate inherently within a very dangerous environment. We are called to make decisions which are fraught with risk. However, through proper risk assessments, we cannot only identify risk activities, but put in place measures to mitigate or reduce the risk to acceptable levels.
The culture of safety in all we do must not only be while we are in uniform, but at home as well. We must proactively engage in the simple activities which include travel to and from BA, in and around our homes and during times of recreation. Too often we have Soldiers, Family members and Civilians that are negatively impacted by not taking Safety Readiness into consideration.
In closing, the foundation has been set for the 108th Training Command to be the premier training formation within the Army. To do so, we must achieve Readiness. This will take all leaders to step up and engage in being the professionals we say we are. Let the Army know that the 108th Training Command is “First in Training”. Army Strong!