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Pathway to 21st century defense strategy

Published: 02:57PM November 20th, 2012

It has been a little less than two months since the Bayonet Division started a new chapter in its history and assumed the role as the higher headquarters for some of the Army’s finest trained, ready and disciplined brigades — 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Stryker brigades, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade and 17th Fires Brigade.

We have proudly welcomed hundreds of Soldiers home from Afghanistan over the past few weeks. We have wished hundreds of Soldiers well as they boarded planes destined for combat. We have shaken the hands of dozens more as we witnessed firsthand the extraordinary training they are doing at Yakima Training Center. But this is only the beginning as we adjust to our role in mission command of the storied 7th Infantry Division — a division that supports I Corps and its new focus on the Asian-Pacific region. Let us not forget that the rich history of the 7th Infantry Division, written in both ink and blood, was done so primarily in the Pacific during World War II and the Korean War.

Over the past decade, we, as a total fighting force, have gained valuable experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, we must leverage that knowledge and apply it to a broader range of operations.

Our division stands ready to support I Corps in its efforts to enable partner capacity through military-to-military relationships and joint and combined exercises, like United Endeavor and Yama Sakura, in which many of our brigades participate annually. I encourage these continued relationships because every relationship, from officers down to junior enlisted Soldiers, contributes to the success of these combined and joint exercises. Exercises, alone, are not a measurement of success, however.

There are three things I expect from leaders within our division headquarters and in the brigades: develop leaders and winning teams; sustain the readiness of our Soldiers and train the force.

Leaders, you must — I repeat, must — teach, coach and mentor subordinate leaders on the importance of engaged leadership through personal interaction in order to reinforce to Soldiers that they are a part of something greater than themselves. The Soldiers you lead now will be the ones leading Soldiers in your place. What type of leaders do you want them to be? Make each one that leader.

Secondly, the Army is the strength of our nation. Soldiers are the strength of our Army. Our Families are the strength of our Soldiers. If any one piece of that equation is weakened, our force is weakened. We must sustain these bonds of TRUST and we will. By employing engaged leadership and instilling discipline, we can improve individual and unit readiness and build resiliency in Soldiers and family members. Leaders need to ensure they are allowing their Soldiers time to take care of their medical and personal issues, while still maintaining training and combat readiness. There can be a balance and we can find it.

Lastly, the division, “America’s Stryker Division,” is a ready and resilient team of teams, focused on mission, Soldier and Family readiness. By resourcing and certifying training, creating home-station training experts and synchronizing the execution of the ARFORGEN process, we will provide the joint force with lethal, agile brigades and warfighting capabilities, which are prepared to execute decisive action when called upon.

By refining our processes for developing leaders and teams, improving the readiness of our Soldiers, and training the force, sustaining it will become second nature. We will remain committed to, and focused on, the creation of sustainment systems and processes that establish oversight for indicators of readiness — like training rotations at YTC and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. — achieve cost benefit and enforce regular guidance.

These things will sustain the force and form a pathway to supporting and executing the new defense strategy for the 21st century. Ultimately, our fighting units must be agile, flexible and ready. They must be technologically advanced and able to defeat any adversary, anywhere and at anytime. Our warfighting capabilities will contribute to I Corps rebalance efforts and are vital to building our portion of the Army of 2020.

We are honored to lead you into this new chapter of our history, and it’s a privilege to work with the new “Greatest Generation” of military leaders and the battle-hardened strength of the nation, our Soldiers!