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News > Commentary - Leadership, standards and discipline
Geronimo Soldiers participate in air raid
Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Silvernale, platoon sergeant, Comanche Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment (Airborne), yells out commands to his troops while on an air assault May 12, 2011. Maj. Gen. Michael Garrett, U.S. Army Alaska commanding general, writes that a key strength of the U.S. Army lies in the organization’s noncommissioned officers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Gross)
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Leadership, standards and discipline

Posted 8/27/2012   Updated 8/27/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Army Maj. Gen. Michael Garrett
U.S. Army Alaska commanding general

8/27/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- I've been serving in the Army for my entire life. My first 22 years, I was an Army dependent and for the last 28 years I've been an officer. I've loved every minute of it.

When I was a platoon leader as a second lieutenant, my father was my division command sergeant major. When he retired after 35 years of service, he had more time in grade than many CSM's had in the Army.

My father was the finest Soldier I've ever known. He taught me what I should expect from noncommissioned officers. Soldiers should be able to look at an NCO and know the standard. The sergeant shouldn't have to say anything; the troops see his actions and know. The biggest difference between our Army and any other in the world is our noncommissioned officers. The NCO corps truly is the backbone of the Army.

The bedrock of any effective military unit is leadership, standards and discipline. These are what I expect from each of you, and they should be the focus of everything we do.
Effective leadership is based in our shared ideals. The character of any Arctic Tough leader, the core of who we each truly are, must be in harmony with the Army Values. These values describe the professional military ethos and capture the tradition of our honored institution. Leadership based on loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage is what we owe those we serve, our Soldiers and everyone who has ever fought and died wearing this uniform.

Engaged leaders know and enforce the standards. I don't abide leaders who ignore deficiencies. If you don't make on-the-spot corrections when you see someone failing to meet the standard, then you just accepted that deficiency as your new standard.

Practicing discipline trains us to be obedient, loyal and respectful while instilling in us the will to win. Discipline is the inner strength to do what is right and to carry out your orders to the very best of your ability. It can be applied to any aspect of your service and in any situation.

You show discipline when you push yourself during physical training and when you take pride in wearing the uniform correctly. Being a disciplined leader means you take responsibility for your actions and don't make excuses when you make mistakes. Discipline is enforcing the standards and working every day to become a better leader.
Each of you must practice discipline, especially when it comes to the basics. When I say basics, I mean the fundamentals we all learned during our entry-level training.

I expect every Soldier to have the discipline to observe military customs and courtesies. Things like going to parade rest when speaking to NCOs and attention when speaking to officers, taking pride in rendering and receiving sharp salutes, and being in the right place at the right time and in the right uniform. These are all things that every one of us learned how to do, but every day there are troops in our formation who aren't disciplined enough to do them.

One of my objectives is to improve our command by developing leaders who offer purpose, direction and motivation to those they lead. As our Soldiers are mentored and taught by example, they will mature into the leaders of tomorrow. They will then take their accumulated knowledge, skills and experience to follow-on assignments in other commands. These Soldiers turned leaders will help influence and develop the rest of the Army and affect what our institution will become.

Every day I try and give you all my very best effort. That's all I ask of you, that every day you give your best effort to the Army and those you lead. You are all doing a tremendous job and make me proud to be part of this great team.

I challenge you to continue training hard and leading from the front. We are blessed to enjoy extraordinary support from our local communities and this great state. This should remind us that the Army is the most respected organization in the U.S. and that we are privileged to serve the citizens of our country by providing for her security. We are the strength of the nation!

Arctic Warriors! Arctic Tough!

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