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Odierno weighs in on soldier concerns

Mar. 24, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno answers questions from soldiers Friday during his two-hour virtual town hall meeting. It was his second such event to give people a chance to communicate with him directly and get individual responses.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno answers questions from soldiers Friday during his two-hour virtual town hall meeting. It was his second such event to give people a chance to communicate with him directly and get individual responses. (Army via Facebook)
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Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and a team of leaders reassured soldiers via Facebook on Friday during a virtual town hall meeting that tackled issues ranging from the status of Army bands (good to go, with “slight reductions”) to better representation for warrants (roger that) to whether soldiers can get away with offensive bumper stickers (not so much.)

The highlights:

■ Standardized gear in the field. Soldiers spend their own money to standardize their gear, one soldier said, asking if the Army could have one set field standard instead of a commander ordering troops to buy gear.

“Absolutely,” Odierno replied. “In fact, we have established equipment sets in Germany that the unit will rotate on in order to conduct training with our NATO allies.”

■ Showing your colors. Odierno said he will direct a review of the regulation on display of unit flags, guidons, streamers and devices for those, AR 840-10. He was responding to a person who said the Army has done well on revising the appearance reg, AR 670-1, and asked that the Army emphasize the importance of treating the colors and heraldry with as much emphasis as personal appearance.

“There is a solid and undeniable manner that they are intended to be displayed and a clear reference is made to this in AR 840-10, yet it is misinterpreted across the Army,” Timothy Tilley wrote, “and quite frankly, is embarrassing.”

Odierno agreed.

■ Voice for warrant officers The Army should have a chief warrant officer of the Army to complement the chief of staff and the sergeant major of the Army to assist in influencing policies, procedures and strengthen the WO Corps, a soldier said.

“I just selected CW5 [David] Williams, who will advise me on all warrant officer issues,” Odierno replied. “This is important to me because of the key role warrant officers play in our Army today. In terms of identifying a specific senior position, we will continue to review as we move forward.”

■ Sex and your car. One person asked about restrictions on offensive sexual material displayed on soldiers’ own vehicles, including window decals, bumper stickers and magnets, which can be interpreted as non-verbal sexual harassment. He said he’s made “several corrections” throughout his installation about offensive material and wants to back that up.

Army policy covers any nonverbal means of communication such as decals, bumper stickers and magnets, responded Maj. Gen. David Aycock, assistant chief of staff for installation management. “You have the authority to approach your chain of command. If you believe this needs to be elevated to a higher level, you can file a formal complaint through agencies such as the Equal Opportunity Office or the Inspector General.”

■ Misconduct and fairness. A company-grade officer asked, “I would like to know how I’m supposed to maintain my own motivation to stay in (and that of my company) when we have numerous field grades and GOs in various legal/court-martial situations, yet they seem to get a slap on the wrist while I’m expected to discharge Soldiers for positive UAs, APFT failure, weight problems and the legal issues.” Several other people echoed that question, some mentioning the sentencing the same week of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair.t

Odierno replied: “I will tell you that it is a small fraction of our senior leaders involved in this behavior. The large majority of our senior leaders are maintaining high standards and are great examples of leadership. It is incumbent on all of us to continue to enforce the Profession of Arms by sustaining high standards and holding people accountable.”

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