GMC News

Secretary of Army addresses GMC

‘You are the future leaders …’
Secretary of Army addresses GMC

Daniel McDonald
The Union-Recorder

The day after Americans took pause to thank veterans for their service to this country, Secretary of the U.S. Army Pete Geren visited Georgia Military College to encourage the generation of soldiers who will follow in their footsteps.

Geren, one of the highest ranking civilian officers in the Department of Defense, addressed GMC Junior College Cadets Wednesday in a speech at the Goldstein Center for the Performing Arts. In his speech before a capacity crowd, Geren talked about the changing expectations for those who serve, and the need for the culture of the Army to change to meet the needs of the band of brothers and sisters who serve together under the nation’s flag.

The War on Terror has forced the hand of change on the country’s fighting forces. It has given the armed services the resources and determination to break with the past.

“The soldier of today looks different from the soldier of 2001,” Geren said. “They are equipped, trained and led differently.”

Geren talked about how the next generation of soldiers will have to adapt to new technology as well as the challenging cultural landscapes in which U.S. soldiers are deployed. Young officers are being tasked with a panoply of roles including tactician, strategist, engineer, diplomat and leader, Geren said.

“We need leaders that understand that the interactions between soldiers and civilians — good or bad — can change the way the world views our mission,” he said.

Additionally, Geren told those in attendance that the Army must address the internal culture that has refused to adapt to the multi-gendered fighting forces deployed in all theaters of U.S. involvement.

“Sixty years ago the Army worked to root out racism,” Geren said. “Now we must work to bring our words and deeds in line with our values.”

Since 2001, 1,800 Army soldiers have been punished for sexual assault, Geren said — that number is twice that of other arms of the military. Together with Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, Geren is working to ensure the Army continues in the spirit with which it tackled the racial integration of the Army 60 years ago to stamp out acts of sexual misconduct.

Following his comments, Geren took questions from GMC cadets who asked how the Army is tending to the psychological needs of soldiers, what languages will be useful for young officers to learn, and how cadets can speed up their enrollment in active duty status while continuing their education.

After the question and answer session, and as he did when he completed his prepared remarks, Geren entreated the cadets to serve their country by following through and joining the Army.

“You are the future leaders our Army needs,” he said. “I know there is an unofficial motto here: ‘Start at GMC, go anywhere;’ I’m asking you to Go Army.”