Top leadership from across the 108th Training Command (Initial Entry Training) footprint met at Fort Benning, Georgia December 4-6, 2020 for the 108th Green Tab Huddle.
Meeting together allowed leaders to discuss everything from division budgets to Soldier fitness. And with all the updates to the Army Combat Fitness Test, the marksmanship qualification standards, Basic Combat Training and a number of regulations, it was even more important for all the leadership to get in sync, said Maj. Gen. Andrew Juknelis, commanding general of the 108th Training Command.
“Meeting together, face-to-face, is still important, as long as we can do it safely,” said Juknelis during his opening comments to the group that was spread out in the 98th Training Division (IET) Headquarters’ drill hall.
The changing culture of the Army, combined with all the challenges of 2020, have undeniably affected the force, and will continue to do so, said Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Priest, command sergeant major of the 108th Training Command. With this is mind, Priest reminded the leaders to embrace the ‘This is my Squad’ initiative. He explained that the term ‘squad’ is all encompassing. It can be your peers, your staff, your Soldiers…ultimately, it’s about unit cohesion, stated the 108th Command Sergeant Major.
“It’s about being relevant and engaged with your Soldiers,” said Priest.
Juknelis solidified this initiative by safely gathering the key leaders of all the downtrace units of the 108th Training Command: 95th Training Division (IET), 98th Training Division (IET) and the 104th Training Division (LT). By spelling out priorities, challenges and solutions, the Commanding General said he wanted to ensure the 108th Training Command remained agile enough to adapt to the changing culture of the Army and Army Reserve.
“I want to create a culture of productivity and teamwork,” said Juknelis.
A highlight of the Huddle was when the 108th Training Command leaders acknowledged the command-level Drill Sergeant, NCO and Soldier of the Year: Drill Sergeant Shane Price, Staff Sgt. Benjamin Latham and Spc. Stanley Thompson, respectively.
Price, who also won the 1st Sgt. Tobias Meister high Army Combat Fitness Test Award, addressed the leadership after providing them with updates on the new marksmanship qualification standards. For this drill sergeant, competition was about pushing himself to new limits. It was about the training and the experience.
“It’s not about the awards. It’s the people and what you get to do,” said the 108th Training Command Drill Sergeant of the Year.
Thompson, who went on to win the U.S. Army Reserve Command’s Soldier of the Year title as well, thanked the leadership for the training opportunity that he felt helped him become a better Soldier.
“I am very happy and grateful that I can make it up here to meet the great NCOs who helped me through this and the leaders who pushed me to get this far.”
Latham, who also went on to win the USARC level competition and claimed the USARC NCO of the Year title, said he enjoyed representing the command because of his experiences with good leadership.
“They have done a lot of good things for me. They have helped me develop myself professionally…Professional development is what Soldiers crave,” said the USARC NCO of the Year. “Money is great, but I think something that trumps that is the opportunity to achieve. And, if you continue to give that to your Soldiers underneath you, you are going to build a great force.”
As Price, Latham and Thompson stood before the Huddle, Priest told the leaders to look at the Soldiers not only for their personal accomplishments, but what they stood for.
“They are the future. It is a leader-development program. When you think about the Best Warrior and Drill Sergeant of the Year competitions, all those things help develop future leaders of the Army,” said Priest.
“Think about that when you go back to your units to develop leaders and improve readiness”