Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Fort Carson Mountaineer

Carson event heralds year of the NCO

Story and photos by Randy Tisor

Mountaineer staff

Approximately 70 Soldiers, civilians and community dignitaries gathered at the Elkorn Conference Center Feb. 25 to officially recognize 2009 as “The Year of the Noncommissioned Officer” on Fort Carson.

Army Secretary Pete Geren, along with Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston, announced the Armywide designation during a conference at Fort Hood, Texas, Jan. 4.

Speaking during the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Terry G. Young, Division West (First Army) and Fort Carson, said one of the main reasons for highlighting NCOs this year is to inform and educate the public regarding the role of the NCO in the Army. Too often, he said, the public has little to no idea of the role NCOs play in today’s Army.

According to Young, the public needs to “know why we call the NCO corps the backbone of the Army. It’s not just a cliché.

“Army NCOs trace their roots to the beginnings of American history. They preserved the Continental Army at Valley Forge, stood with Winfield Scott at Chippawa, and directed Zachary Taylor’s guns at Buena Vista (Mexico). They carried the nation’s colors at Gettysburg, fought yellow fever in Cuba with Walter Reed, and led Pershing’s and Eisenhower’s legions in Germany. Whether helping local populations build a village in Southeast Asia or teaching young Iraqi soldiers how to conduct operations, American NCOs and Soldiers are leading from the front and are some of the nation’s best ambassadors.

“Over time, through various changes and tactics and technology, NCOs have emerged as the Army’s small unit leaders and trainers and guardians of standards. Our NCO corps is unrivaled in the world by any other army. We are envied by our allies and feared by our enemies.

“The NCO corps is a national treasure,” Young added.

The Year of the NCO recognizes the leadership, professionalism, commitment, courage and dedication of the NCO corps and will better inform and educate Congress, government institutions and the American people of these roles, responsibilities and the quality of our service.”

Young stated that several measures will further enhance the status and awareness of Army NCOs. Most notably, a pilot program will put two sergeant major in the halls of Congress to answer questions on enlisted matters. The sergeants major will augment a face-to-face relationship that has, to date, included only officers. Other programs, Young said, are in development.

“We as leaders are challenged with the dilemma and side effects of dealing with the environment of persistent conflict,” Young said in his closing remarks. “We have Soldiers that have been away from their Families for multiple deployments and are battle-hardened. They have trained thousands of other Soldiers and probably saved a lot of Soldiers’ lives – we may never know the extent. Sometimes those Soldiers don’t receive enough fanfare, but you are needed and you are appreciated, even if we don’t say it enough.”

The event was the first on Fort Carson to honor calendar year 2009 as the Year of the NCO. Other events are planned throughout the year.

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