Command Sergeant Major Larry W. Gammon
More than 110 senior enlisted leaders from around the world in both the Active and Reserve Components attended the annual Sergeants Major Conference at the Quartermaster Corps NCO Academy. Participants represented organizations from battalion through major command levels, 18-22 Sep 00, at Fort Lee, VA. Leadership focused on the theme of the 2000 conference, Creating Quartermasters for America’s Army.
Monday. The conference opened Monday with remarks by BG Calvin D. Jaeger, the Deputy Commanding General for Mobilization and Training, US Army Quartermaster Center and School (QMC&S). A short video, It all Starts Here, focused on what it takes to create Quartermasters for America’s Army. Then a group of advanced individual training (AIT) students marched on stage, introduced themselves and talked about their decision-making processes before joining the Army and what it means to become a Quartermaster. The AIT soldiers were followed by students from the Quartermaster Corps NCO Academy and several students from the Officer Basic Course. Each group of soldiers gave honest, thoughtful and candid answers to questions from the sergeants major. This student showcase made it quite clear that our Army’s future is bright and also demonstrated the candor and commitment of today’s young soldiers. The rest of Monday’s schedule included a review of recommendations from the 1999 conference, several briefings and a mixer/ice-breaker with soldiers from the NCO Academy.
Tuesday. Tuesday, as with the other days of the conference, started with participation in physical fitness training with one of the QMC&S units. Briefings and tours of the training departments allowed senior enlisted leadership to interact with Quartermasters in the training environment. Then the sergeants major divided into eight small groups to discuss selected topics.
Wednesday. Personnel from the Defense Logistics Agency, the US Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick), and the Enlisted Personnel Management Division of the US Total Army Personnel Command (PERSCOM) briefed participants. At lunch with AIT soldiers at one of three 23d Quartermaster Brigade dining facilities, the sergeants major had quality discussions with the young students. Wednesday afternoon was set aside for each sergeant major to visit the training department of his specific military occupational specialty (MOS) for talks with students and cadre.
Thursday. Thursday turned out to be one of the conference’s busiest days. MG Hawthorne L. Proctor, the 46th Quartermaster General and the QMC&S Commander, got things rolling with his State of the Corps briefing. The Honorary Colonel of the Quartermaster Regiment, LTG (Retired) Arthur J. Gregg, followed a question-and-answer session with The Quartermaster General with a continuation of strong dialogue about the Corps and the Army.
On Thursday afternoon, LTG General Billy K. Solomon, Commander of the US Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) at Fort Lee, spoke to the sergeants major about CASCOM and senior enlisted leadership’s role in support of the Army’s vision and mission. He discussed Army Transformation and its possible impact on support personnel.
The staff ride started immediately after LTG Solomon’s briefing. The sergeants major boarded buses for Petersburg National Battlefield, where they heard briefings on three different aspects of the Petersburg Campaign. A barbecue social at the Regimental Retreat on post followed the staff ride. The social included
remarks by The Quartermaster General; a pictorial slide presentation about creating Quartermasters in the past, present and future; and photographs of the attendees participating in the conference’s different events so far.
Friday. Friday was another hectic day, starting at 0500 hours with a senior leaders run led by MG Proctor. The sergeants major ran in a mass formation immediately behind the Quartermaster Corps Colors. The run was inspirational as the large formation of sergeants major sounded off to cadence called by their peers.
On this final day, the small discussion groups put finishing touches on presentations for the commanding general. The Forces Command, Army (FORSCOM) Command Sergeant Major, CSM Andrew McFowler briefly spoke about FORSCOM, the FORSCOM mission, and the impact of training institutions on FORSCOM’s mission. A representative from PERSCOM’s Sergeant Major Branch gave a short update about issues affecting CSMs and SGMs. CSM (Retired) Milton B. Hazzard capped off the morning’s activities with a briefing about life after retirement and how best to prepare for the future.
Friday afternoon’s session started with briefings by CSM Robert Steele, Command Sergeant Major of the US Army Joint Forces Command, and CSM John Beck, Command Sergeant Major of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command. Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) Jack L. Tilley spoke briefly about his role as the SMA, as well as other issues impacting soldiers and our Army. The final official piece of business was the topics for out-briefing The Quartermaster General. These topics included multifunctional/multiskilled soldiers, recruiting/accessions, retention, and MOS qualifications.
I closed the conference with the same statement that opened the conference: what this conference is all about is Creating Quartermasters for America’s Army. The world champion US Army Culinary Arts Team (USACAT) showcased their talents by preparing a demonstration meal for several dozen remaining conference attendees Friday evening.
Saturday. Many conference participants, with departure times scheduled for Saturday afternoon, attended the Rites of Passage Ceremony for AIT students early Saturday morning at the US Army Quartermaster Museum. The ceremony was a moving experience for all. The Rites of Passage ceremony is a strong reminder of the feeling of pride that touches your inner self and commits you to the team - The Quartermaster Team Supporting Victory.
Feedback from the conference attendees indicates that this was the best conference yet. An abundance of information was presented for taking back to the field and sharing with fellow Quartermasters. Quartermaster pride was evident. Quartermaster senior enlisted leadership again demonstrated why Quartermasters are on the cutting edge for support.