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Odierno Outlines Priorities for New SMA

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno listens to Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, right, answer a question during a virtual town hall at the Google Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2015. U.S. Army photo
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno listens to Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, right, answer a question during a virtual town hall at the Google Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2015. U.S. Army photo

WASHINGTON -- Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno has outlined priorities for the incoming sergeant major of the Army.

The first priority, Odierno said, is to work on eliminating sexual assault in the Army, continuing the effort of Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III.

"Everybody needs to be involved with that," Odierno said. "NCOs can have a bigger difference in that than anything else we do, so I need the sergeant major of the Army to continue to help me lead in helping us to eradicate sexual assaults."

Odierno made the comments Tuesday, in a Google town hall together with Chandler, who is retiring at the end of this month.

Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Dailey, until recently the senior enlisted adviser for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, is to take the reins from Chandler.

Odierno said other priorities for the incoming enlisted leader are developing non-commissioned officers of the future, and focusing on home station training and readiness.

Additionally, the new sergeant major of the Army must ensure Soldiers continue to understand the Army profession, and what it means to be a professional.

It is critical the force understands the expectation of leaders and "the ethics and moral values that we value in the Army that makes us different than anybody else in society," Odierno said.

Chandler, who was sworn in as the 14th sergeant major of the Army on March 1, 2011, said he never thought he would be the Army's senior enlisted leader. 

"I got asked three times before I actually competed," he said, explaining he did not want to compete before he was in it "100 percent" and able to balance his family commitments with his obligations to the position. 

"I had a mentor who came to talk to me about it and that's when I chose to compete," Chandler said.

Looking back, Chandler credits his success to one of his mentors, Staff Sgt. Lou Tallini, an American Samoan who was his first tank commander.

"Tallini could not read -- that was back in 1981 -- but he was a phenomenal leader," Chandler said.

Chandler remembered how Tallini took him under his wing and said, "'Hey, you're kind of a punk and you don't really want to listen. If you will just listen to what I tell you, you will be successful in the Army.'"

Chandler said he learned and grew from the experience, as a young enlisted Soldier with a positive role model.

"I had somebody who I could look up to who inspired me to be better than I was and to challenge me on a daily basis," he said.

Chandler said he chose to make the Army a career because of the professionalism and leadership of Tallini. The lessons from his mentor followed Chandler throughout his military career.

"I attribute my success to a great part of him and his leadership," Chandler said.

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