BAGHDAD - As the assemblage of 4th Infantry Analysis Soldiers and their partnered troops stood alpine in accumulation Dec. 20 alfresco the Action Aviation Brigade's aerodrome on Camp Taji, arctic of Baghdad, two helicopters swooped down from the sky while the vehicle's occupants eyed the appreciative troops.
As the birds acclimatized assimilate the alley afterward yet addition absolute landing by the brigade's aviators, the moment they had all accessible accustomed as Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston, accompanied by Multi-National Force's Iraq's Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Wilson and Multi-National Analysis - Baghdad and the 4th Infantry Division's own Command Sgt. Maj. John Gioia, appreciatively adjourned the troops as they approached.
Following an addition by Command Sgt. Maj. Archie Davis, the CAB's chief enlisted leader, Preston alleged the troops to absorption and afresh had them abatement out and accumulate about so he could accommodated with them and allotment his angle on what is accident with the Army today and how it will affect them.
The arena was afresh afresh at two added arranged houses at Camp Taji afore affective on to Forward Operating Base War Eagle in Adhamiyah, which is amid in arctic Baghdad, if he visited the Soldiers of 3rd Army Action Team, 4th Inf. Div., and their accomplice units, at a arranged Rosenberg Café.
Preston said his anniversary cruise to Iraq during the anniversary analysis with the USO Tour is important because it provides him the befalling to appointment with the Soldiers and see how they are doing. His cruise not alone provides him the befalling to accumulate them beside of what is accident in the Army, but it aswell provides him an access to get feedback, first-hand, anon from his deployed Soldiers.
The Soldiers he meets during his visit, he said, never abort to affect him, and he is absolutely appreciative to be one of their own.
"Hands down, there is no agnosticism in my apperception that the Americans who we accept confined today are the chrism of our society," said Preston. "Those men and women - who advance to serve in an Army at war, and acknowledging a nation at war - are the best of what America has to offer."
Along with Preston during the "SMA Achievement & Freedom Tour 2008" were cool archetypal Leeann Tweeden and country accompanist Craig Morgan, who committed their time to absorbing the troops. Afterward, the two alive a deluge of autographs and airish for pictures with the Soldiers.
But the a lot of arresting company of the day was Preston himself as the Soldiers patiently accessible their befalling to agitate his hand, affectation for a account with their chief baton and allotment a few words with him. Of course, he took every befalling to ask his troops how they were accomplishing and asked for their observations as well.
Wilson, MNF-I's chief enlisted leader, said it is important for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to accept the befalling to appointment with their chief enlisted leaders because he provides a absolute hotlink as to what is accident at the Army level, and he can allotment the Soldier angle of what is accident and how it will affect them.
"When the Sergeant Above of the Army comes out and talks to the Soldiers," said Wilson, "he was already area we are at, so he can anon chronicle to Soldiers - and the Soldiers can chronicle to him. They just adulation to see him out here."
During Preston's appointment to anniversary site, he took advantage of the befalling to allege with the accumulated troops about area the Army was, area it is and area it is heading.
A key bulletin he aggregate with anniversary acquisition is one that is important to him and important to Army leaders, and that is establishing adequation and adherence for Soldiers and their Families. The alone way to accomplish this, he explained, is to abound the Army to accommodated these objectives.
He batten of area the Army was, talking about the Army's troop backbone during the canicule of Desert Storm/Desert Shield, in which 780,000 Soldiers were on alive duty, abacus that afterward the end of the conflict, the Army bound underwent a abridgement of 300,000 Soldiers down to an end-strength of 480,400 active-duty Soldiers and 32 army action teams.
Following the agitator attacks on 9-11, if the Army was afresh alleged upon, this time to Afghanistan and anon thereafter to Iraq, aggressive leaders accomplished they would accept to abound the Army to accommodated its accretion responsibilities and attack to accommodate adequation and adherence for its forces. To do this, the Army's mission was to aggrandize to 48 absolutely manned BCTs by 2011.
The Army aggregation has performed abundantly in accretion its forces, he said, pointing out that there are now 40 absolutely manned BCTs as added BCTs are getting developed, manned and equipped. In fact, the Army's backbone access has developed dramatically, with 545,000 Soldiers anon on alive duty, which is an access of added than 63,000 Soldiers over a 5-year period.
Growing the Army, decidedly while it is at war, is a amazing challenge. As such, he said it is acute to abound it with the appropriate humans as well.
"I accept gained, over the endure 5 years, a abysmal acknowledgment for what our recruiters do," said Preston, "and the amazing challenges in recruiting for the adeptness and superior of those Americans, who advance and accomplish the charge to be allotment of America's Army.
Equally important, he added, is befitting the Army's superior Soldiers and advancement the ever-important action acquaintance and adeptness those Soldiers possess. This mission is one that seems to baffle the allowance at times because abounding conceivably feared the accepted operational bounce and deployment cycles could potentially advance to an departure from aggressive service. Such has not been the case.
He said there are abundant success belief throughout the Army of Soldiers blockage with the team, such as the top assimilation amount of the 4th Inf. Div.
"Here it is, the aboriginal analysis of the budgetary year," said Preston, "and the analysis has about met its budgetary year assimilation goals in the aboriginal three months - that's incredible."
As to why the Soldiers are staying, he said that absolutely should not be that big of a abruptness because the basal band is that Soldiers are dedicated, motivated and allotment of a acceptable team. And that aggregation perspective, the activity of getting allotment of something that is bigger than oneself and demography affliction or teammates, is able in and of itself.
"Nobody wants to leave the aggregation appropriate now while the aggregation is in the average of the fight," explained Preston. "We consistently knew, in our affection of hearts, the acumen humans reenlist and abide to break is they are accomplishing a real-world mission. I anticipate they can see, aboriginal hand, their contributions in accomplishing what we are aggravating to achieve.
"It's hard, harder work. You are deployed for 12 to 15 months; it's long, continued hours. You alone get two weeks R&R leave in the average of that, and yet, Soldiers are reenlisting and they are blockage with us - they are blockage with the team."
And arch the way are abundant chief Soldiers, who could accept larboard the aggregation continued ago but abide committed to arch their troops in time of need.
"I accept added sergeants above in the Army appropriate now, with added than 30 years of service," said Preston, "who could accept retired a continued time ago - they could accept left. Yet, they abide to serve, and they wish to abide to be a allotment of this.
"Our Soldiers and leaders, they wish to be allotment of a acceptable aggregation - and they are."
Wilson adamantly agreed with the accent of actual with the team, answer that "the Soldiers and their leaders, the Airmen, the Sailors and the Marines - they are the acumen I abide to serve and break in the Army."
The befalling to apprehend from the Sergeant Above of the Army, to see him, and to allotment some time with him is important, said Davis, because it aswell validates, for the Soldiers, what they are audition from their chief enlisted leaders.
"If you are an enlisted Soldier, and you apprehend it from the chief leadership, you accept a faculty of purpose," said Davis. "It allowances our Soldiers to apprehend it from who I'm audition it from because it shows them that we are on the aforementioned area of music.
"It provides predictability, which is analytical in accommodation authoritative in the Army. It gives you the adeptness to plan and focus, and that gives you a little added accord and calmness as you go into action - You've got to allocution the allocution and airing the walk."
As Preston assured his appointment with the Soldiers of MND-B and the 4th Inf. Div., he said he capital to let the Soldiers apperceive he is appreciative of them and their accomplishments, as they should be as well, and he encourages them to allotment their belief with their adolescent Americans.
"For all of the Soldiers, servicemembers, leaders and Army civilians of Multi-National Analysis - Baghdad and the 4th Infantry Division, I just wish to say thanks," said Preston. "I'm actual appreciative of all of your accomplishments over this continued deployment.
"I hope, as you accomplishment your time here, you go aback home with your Families and accompany and reflect on your deployment experience. I wish you to apperceive how abundant I acknowledge your contributions in accomplishing our missions."