By Sgt. Jon Cupp, USA
Nov. 27, 2006 – Soldiers who are new to the theater of operations in Iraq actually have an advantage over those who are veterans of previous Operation Iraqi Freedom rotations, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told soldiers here yesterday. Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey visited with 1st Cavalry Division soldiers at the Taji Cinema Theater here.
"You who have been here before have the expectation of things running the same way as the last time you were here," said Gainey, likening their situation to that of a football team. "You play Friday night and win; but you lose the next game because your thinking was the same. You played exactly the same way as you did the last time."
Gainey said the soldiers need to remember that they are facing an observant, adaptive enemy.
"The enemy is smart. ... Act like this is the first game, the first season, the first time," said Gainey. "Forget (about the last time); do it the way it is now. I've been here a lot of times, and every day is different."
Gainey told the soldiers that it is perfectly natural for them to miss their families while deployed, but that the troops should stay focused on the mission by finding ways to keep their minds off of what's going on at home.
"Get yourself involved in something to help get your mind off of missing your family," he said. "Physical fitness, mental fitness and emotional fitness are all very important."
Gainey explained that becoming a part of volunteer groups is one of the things he has done while being away from his family. He suggested that soldiers can find other ways to keep their minds off of things at home, such as seeking out educational opportunities or working out at the gym.
"I didn't sit around worrying about the fact that I was going to be away from them," he said. "You can't worry about what you can't change."
Gainey left the troopers with some parting advice.
"Spend your time wisely and be professionals," said Gainey, adding, "Pride is contagious. Share the pride you have with each other."
Soldiers who heard Gainey speak said it was a worthwhile experience.
"I was honored to hear the sergeant major speak," Pfc. Erica Wells from Company E, 615th Air Support Battalion, said. "It definitely cheered me up to know that he cared enough to come and speak to us and share his feelings with us. He really knows how to motivate you. The things he spoke on were very important."
"He was very personable and really taught us quite a bit," added Pfc. Ashley Howard, a truck driver for Company A, 615th Air Support Battalion.
At the end of his visit, Gainey took a tour of one of the 15th Sustainment Brigade's vehicle yards on the camp, where soldiers were placing new, improved armor on their Humvees.
Article Sponsored by Criminal Justice online and police officer turned law enforcement writers.