Story and Photo by
Spc. Breeanna Dubuke
29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Chandler addresses concerns about ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ sexual assault, downsizing
BAGHDAD — Sgt. Maj. of the Army Ray Chandler visited with Soldiers from 25th Infantry Division, recently, at Camp Liberty, here, to discuss the future of the Army and ongoing changes that many Soldiers may face.
Chandler’s focus for the trip was to grasp a better understanding of Soldiers’ views on subjects.
“My job is to be a scout,” Chandler said, referring to his duty to hear the concerns of Soldiers. “I go out and perform reconnaissance.”
During his visit, Chandler addressed some of the top issues facing the Army today. The first was sexual assault amongst Soldiers.
“We’ve still got sexual assaults happening in our formations every day, and that’s not okay,” Chandler said. “I have zero tolerance for anyone who sexually harasses or assaults another Soldier.
“We’re supposed to be professionals. We’re supposed to be Soldiers who live by an ethos. We’re supposed to be looking out for each other, but we still have stuff like this going on every day,” he added.
Chandler charged all Soldiers, from privates to senior noncommissioned officers, to hold people accountable for their actions.
“I need you to be aware that sexual assault is more prevalent than you probably realize,” Chandler said. “You have an active role to prevent it, to intervene, to act and to motivate others (to intervene).”
The second topic of discussion was changes to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
“There are three things that continually come up that Soldiers are concerned with,” Chandler said. “One is cohabitation, the other is standards of conduct and the third is cross-dressing.”
Chandler emphasized that the same standards of conduct apply to all Soldiers, regardless of sexual orientation.
He described couples greeting each other at a homecoming ceremony after a deployment: first, a heterosexual couple pushing the limits of propriety on the parade field, and secondly, homosexual couples being discretely affectionate on the parade field.
Chandler used this example to show Soldiers that they know “what right looks like.”
He emphasized, what right looks like isn’t sexual orientation-specific.
The third issue was downsizing the Army.
“We’re going to bring the size of the Army down,” Chandler said. “We’re going to eliminate about 50,000 positions in the next five years, and that’s the active component only.”
Downsizing will take place in recruiting less new Soldiers and retaining less people.
“If you’re not performing, you’re probably not going to be offered the privilege of re-enlisting,” Chandler said. “If you are performing at an average (level), you’re at a risk of not being able to re-enlist. If you’re a retirement-eligible person and you’re doing an average job, we’re going to tell you, ‘Okay, you can go ahead and retire now.’”
Chandler then listed a description of Soldiers who would be welcome to re-enlist.
“If you’re physically fit, meeting the standards of height and weight; if you’re a disciplined Soldier; if you’re seeking greater opportunities; (and) if you are seeking military and civilian education, then we’re probably going to keep you on the team,” Chandler said. “We’re only going to retain the best people.”
But no matter what the changes, Chandler said that knowing and enforcing the standards will mean continued success for the Army.
“Know the standard, set the standard, enforce the standard,” he said. “You do those, and this Army will be fine.”