Leadership News

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Young People Should Find Ways to Serve, Pace Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 16, 2007 - Whether it's through
military service or another means, young Americans should find some way to serve their country, the U.S. military's top officer said here today. "I do believe that each of us who has had the blessing of the accident of birth of being born in a free country ought to find some way to repay our country," Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a town hall meeting at Collier Field House here.

"If we have a system that allowed people to join the Peace Corps or allowed people to do good work inside the United States where it's needed, or join the
military," it would help the country.

Young people should give a year or two of their lives to making society better, and U.S. leaders should take such a commitment seriously, Pace said. "We would be a much stronger society, and we would be giving back to the world what we should be giving back," he said.

The general also put to rest rumors about a possible
U.S. military draft. "Nobody in any leadership position is having any serious discussion about a draft," he said.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chairman Reflects on Military Service

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 14, 2007 - In a town hall meeting here today,
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the military's senior general, spoke about how proud he has been to look out for the welfare of lower-ranking servicemembers during his 40-year career. Pace is retiring Oct. 1. He has been chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since 2005, and was vice chairman for four years before that.

"I talk frequently on the impact of decisions on 'Pfc. Pace,'" he said. "It's my way of making sure that those of us on the high-end of the rank structure don't forget that each decision we make has an impact on a (private first class) or a senior airman or petty officer."

Pace said he is proud that civilian
leaders in the Pentagon now talk about the impact of decisions on young enlisted members and officers.

"I'm happy that the dialogue includes a clear understanding that there are real people involved here and that when you say to do something in Washington, it has very specific impacts on the 'Pfc. Paces' of the world who have to make that decision work," he said.

During a question-and-answer session, a young airman asked the general if he ever thought he would reach the heights to which his career has taken him. Pace responded that he always planned to serve as long as he was needed.

Pace first entered combat in Vietnam during the Battle of Hue City in 1968 as a platoon
leader in Company G, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines. He was the third platoon leader in as many weeks. Only three Marines in his company of 156 did not get wounded in Hue. "I was one of them," he said.

In one incident, a staff sergeant walked in front of him when a sniper fired. "The (round) caught him in the side rather than me in the chest," the general said. "I walked through a minefield one day when I didn't know I was in a minefield.

"I had no idea how I had gone through 13 months in combat as a platoon leader without getting scratched and, more importantly, I lost some wonderful Marines who died following Second Lieutenant Pace's orders in combat," he continued.

He said that when he came back from Vietnam he made a promise to himself.

"For me, (service in the
military) has been about trying to repay those who died following my orders," he said. "In the process, I have never thought about the next promotion, because I've always felt I would serve the nation until I was no longer needed. And I would know that when I stopped getting promoted. Whenever that happened would be just fine."

The general said the idea worked "pretty well" for 40 years.

"Now I am going home," he said referring to his retirement in October. "I am not a volunteer to go home, nor am I dragging my feet. I am sitting here saying the same thing I have said for 40 years: I love this nation, I love each and every one of you who wear the uniform, I would serve until I die if they would let me.

"But I am also very comfortable that I have fulfilled the mission that I set for myself 40 years ago. And those great young Marines who will be forever young with their names on the Vietnam Wall and those who died with us in Somalia and those who died in this conflict, I hope I have served the way I meant to serve, and that is to remember the impact on 'Pfc. Pace' and not care about whether General Pace gets promoted."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Future NCOs Welcome Top Sergeant Major to Italy

By Petty Officer 1st Class Derrick Ingle, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 1, 2007 - With a South Carolina accent, words of wisdom and a little physical fitness, the
U.S. military's most senior enlisted member captured the hearts of some of the Army and Air Force's most promising leaders of tomorrow. Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, yesterday visited with 40 Airman Leadership School graduates at this northeastern Italy base.

The school prepares
Air Force senior airmen and Army specialists and below to be noncommissioned officers. While the six-week course gets young soldiers and airmen ready for the next pay grade, the most senior NCO in the Defense Department used only 60 minutes to do his bit to prepare them for life.

"Most of you don't know me, do you?" Gainey asked. "You heard some old sergeant major was coming to visit and said, 'OK, what's the big deal?'

"All I care about is that you know who your first-line supervisor is, because guess what? One day that's going to be you. Don't worry about who I am," Gainey said. "Worry about your young soldiers and airmen when you become an NCO. You have to listen to your people. This is my motto: I put my God first, my family second and my job or service third. As long as you prioritize in this order, the rest will fall into place, I promise you."

From motivational mottos to metaphoric examples of how each branch of service makes up the "apple pie" called the Defense Department, the 32-year Army veteran used parables -- and about 600 push-ups -- to relate to the
military's next generation.

Gainey had several volunteers come to the stage for a physical challenge. "He said he'd add up all the push-ups we can do and do one more,"
Air Force Staff Sgt. Odell Straughter said.

"He did just that, too. Out of nine of us, we did around 600. He counted it up, dropped down and did one more," Straughter continued with a laugh. "It was a listening tool. He said, as future NCOs, we have to listen to exactly what our people are saying, not what we think they're saying."

The "push-up challenge" not only served as a wake-up call for some to open their ears, but as also enlightenment reminder to maintain physical readiness.

"I do 100 push-ups every morning. If you don't embrace physical fitness, how can you carry a wounded lad out in the field?" Gainey asked. "If you're not in shape enough to be there for your troops, shame on you."

With Gainey's stern, yet welcoming, on-stage presence, the young troops where quick to take heed of his advice.

"He's such a dynamic speaker,"
Air Force Senior Airman Bradley Von Hawgg said. "He knows how to draw you in. Everything he was saying was right on. He was talking to us and not at us. He's able to talk to the chairman at the Pentagon on one level and then come to Italy and still relate to non-NCOs. How does he do it? Last week I was thinking about leaving the Air Force, yet after meeting the SEAC, I'm not so sure."

Those who know Gainey best say he was a contagious motivational
leader long before becoming the top NCO in the Defense Department. From the sands of the Middle East to the halls of the Pentagon, this South Carolina native has always been referred to as "a soldier's soldier."

"I've served with him before his appointment to Washington, D.C.," Army Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Rice, of the Southern European Task Force in Vicenza, Italy, said. Gainey also visited Vicenza during his trip to Italy.

"The secret of his success is he didn't forget where he came from. He remembers what it's like to be a young private, a young sergeant, and an NCO. He's using that same mentality at DoD's headquarters that he had out in the field. It's an honor to have him come out a visit us."

(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Derrick Ingle is asigned to the Joint Staff.)