FORT IRWIN Soldiers at Fort Irwin got a visit from the nation's highest-ranking enlisted soldier, as Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III stopped by during a recent tour of Southern California.
Chandler, the Army's top non-commissioned officer, visited Fort Irwin with his wife on Feb. 19 and 20.
The National Training Center at Fort Irwin is one of three Army combat training centers, and Chandler spoke about the NTC's significance for rotational training units as well as individual soldiers.
"The NTC supports our profession by testing the mettle, by testing the individual, by testing the leadership to ensure they can accomplish their assigned missions," Chandler said. "And it also helps them grow as professionals (through) the take-home package where they're going to take the information they received here, not only their successes, but their failures. And they'll look at how they can grow and develop as an organization to fight and win our nation's wars."
Chandler, who acts as the senior enlisted adviser to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odiero, spoke to soldiers about the fundamental characteristics of a true professional soldier. Chandler said those traits are character, commitment and competence.
"Our profession demands equal weight on character, commitment and competence, and if you're not willing to meet those needs, those performance measures, then you are not the professional that we need in the Army," Chandler said. "And I want you to take this back to your fellow soldiers because if you're not a professional, if you're not competent or committed or a person of character, how are we going to establish trust amongst one another?"
During his two-day visit, the 32-year service veteran Chandler met with various junior enlisted soldiers and toured the Fort Irwin garrison and the Mary Walker clinic.
Chandler also met with soldiers of the 2916th Aviation Battalion and the 1st Brigade Combat Team, as well as the 1st Calvary Division from Fort Hood, Texas.
Gus Bahena contributed to this report.