American Forces Press Service
Aug. 7, 2009 - Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston discussed key concerns and possible solutions with soldiers during a visit here Aug. 3. At a town hall meeting, Preston outlined the topics he had brought to President Barack Obama in the president's first office call with the top noncommissioned officers of each service.
"I submitted three things: stress on the force, recruiting and retention, and the Year of the NCO," Preston said.
Preston pointed out that stress doesn't just affect soldiers overseas. "It's not just the soldiers who are deployed," he said. "It's also those picking up the slack in the rear and their families."
To allow soldiers and their loved ones shorter deployments and more dwell time at their home stations between deployments, Preston said, the Army has been "building brigades."
"We saw the impact of what happens to units with less than one year of dwell time," he said.
On recruiting and retention, Preston pointed out a few of the factors he said keep re-enlistment percentages high.
"The command climate depends on the leadership you work for," Preston said. "Job satisfaction goes far beyond occupational specialty. The quality of life for soldiers and their families is usually better than what they could provide back home."
Preston discussed the importance of the Year of the NCO and the meaning behind the designation.
"We want to recognize the contributions from the NCO Corps of the past and present," he said. "We must remember the veterans. If it weren't for them wearing the uniform, we could not wear it today."
Before leaving, the Army's top enlisted soldier participated in a promotion ceremony and presented commemorative coins.
"It's great to be a part of this promotion today to see soldiers move up to a higher position," Preston said.
"It was an honor to be promoted by the sergeant major of the Army and have [Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Wilson] the Multinational Force Iraq command sergeant major present," said Army Sgt. David Rollins, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 89th Military Police Brigade team leader for the personal security detail.
Preston also discussed detainee operations with members of Task Force Griffin, and stopped by the combat support hospital, Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center and the Remembrance II Theater Internment Facility.