Sgt. Maj. Curtis H. Arnold
Command Sergeant Major,
196th Infantry Brigade
I am currently in the Philippines, serving as the Combined Army Forces command sergeant major for the 2012 Balikatan exercise.
This exercise is conducted yearly with our Philippine army counterparts.
Every year, as we begin to prepare for our training and for our partnership, we attend several planning conferences, site surveys and overall training to ensure that we are fully prepared for the mission.
This year is certainly no different. A lot of time, money and effort have gone into our preparation to ensure the mission will be a success.
The 196th Infantry Brigade is serving as the Combined Army Forces Headquarters for the first time. My commander, Col. Jack Pritchard, and I have put in an enormous amount of effort to ensure that our Soldiers represent our Army, our nation and our unit with utmost professionalism.
Taking the lead this year, we decided to show our Philippine army counterparts a truly “back to basics” exercise. Like all Army leaders, I strive to set the example in both words and actions. I always try to “improve my foxhole.”
Upon arrival to Fort Magsaysay, Philippines, I noticed that the area needed a little touch up. I consulted with my commander, and we decided that what was needed was an old-fashioned “GI Party.”
We began our day with a shoulder-to-shoulder police call of the outside grounds. This policing was entirely appropriate as the term Balikatan means “shoulder-to-shoulder.”
Upon completion, we then moved into the billets and work areas and conducted a thorough cleanup.
As I walked around talking to Soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Bacon, 196th Inf. Bde., said to me, “This is the Army I grew up in. Conducting police calls of the area, billet inspections … things like that are how it used to be.”
Next, I spoke to Staff Sgt. Eduardo Bayle, 9th Mission Support Command, and he too commented how he remembered the “good old days.” He said he would conduct physical training, followed by a police call and barracks maintenance, and that he was glad we were doing all of this.
Master Sgt. Nathan Grove, 196th Inf. Bde., commented that he was glad we are setting an example of what “right looks like” to our Philippine counterparts.
Hearing these comments made me proud of our Soldiers. They understand the importance of the little things.
Discipline is the most basic Soldier trait. The discipline to keep things neat and in order will prevent chaos from ensuing in all we do.
Sometimes, it takes an exercise in cleanup to bring the most basic of skills to the forefront.
It is easy to go back to basics if we never leave them. Basic skills of leadership, setting the example, leading from the front, and respect, will go a long way to polishing those basic skills.
We are the most professional, well-trained and experienced Army in the world. As we continue, these partnership exercises throughout the Pacific, we need to constantly remind ourselves, our partners are looking to us to see what right looks like.
I am so proud every time a Philippine army noncommissioned officer or officer compliments one of our Soldiers on their professionalism.
I am excited to see our Army returning to the good old days and starting to get back to basics.