By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
Sept. 18, 2008 - A military's most valuable resources are its people and the experienced leaders who mentor and train them, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told senior noncommissioned officers here today during a visit to the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. "You are serving in an extraordinary time in our country's history," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said. "Right now [the military has] the best soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines we've ever had, and it's that way, in great part, because of your service."
Mullen spoke to a group of nearly 700 of the U.S. military's top enlisted troops, congratulating them for being selected to attend the academy and thanking them for their service. He commended them for the leadership and the knowledge they represent.
Because of the high tempo of today's military, Mullen said it's important for the more-seasoned troops to focus on leadership, mentoring and sharing their experiences with new and junior recruits. Although the individual servicemember is the military's number one asset, the chairman said they're no good without strong leadership.
The admiral also praised the families for their support. The pace of deployment rotations may be hard on the spouses and children, he said, but their positive support allows the troops to focus on their mission.
"We have the most combat-hardened, most capable, fastest changing military that I've ever seen," he said, "and we could not do that without the support of our family."
In fact, Mullen gives military families much credit for the past year's success in Iraq. Violence there is at its lowest levels in nearly five years. Iraqi forces have grown more competent and self-sufficient, and some U.S. units have already redeployed without replacements.
"Family support has never been better," he said. "We've been unbelievably successful in Iraq. The change from a year ago is absolutely spectacular. [Success in Iraq] is still reversible, and it's still fragile, but the families made that possible."
Mullen concluded his visit with the academy by reiterating the importance of leadership in today's force and senior leaders to pass on their experiences to troops as they progress through the ranks.
"leadership is the most important part of your job as senior non-commissioned officers," he said. "You are a key group for our future, and our future rests on your shoulders."