Legion 6 Organization Message: Operational Readiness – Part 2: Strength

RICHMOND, Va. — Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and the Army and Air Force chiefs have made it very plain that readiness and lethality must be our top priorities. Whether through official memos to the field, or appearances at recent conferences for the National Guard Association of the United States and Association of the United States Army, they have clearly articulated that leaders at every level must prepare forces to fight and win against near-peer adversaries.

I addressed operational readiness in my first “Fight Tonight” message earlier this year, and Part 2 of that message focuses on strength. Meeting and exceeding our end strength goals is the most critical cornerstone of achieving the Secretary’s vision of readiness and lethality. Let me be very direct, as clearly outlined in the TY19 DMA Joint Strategic Plan, the objective for unit end strength remains no less than 105%. There is nothing revolutionary on this topic, just hard work at all levels. We will achieve this by adhering to the following principles:

  • Master your unit manning roster. Leaders at every level must understand current end strength and potential losses. Each unit is unique, and I understand that retention rates will be unique as well. Build your strength plans accordingly.
  • Cultivate relationships with recruiters. These men and women work tirelessly to ensure your unit’s success, but you know your mission better than anyone – strength is your responsibility.
  • Tell our story. Soldiers and Airmen at every level must tell their story; take every opportunity for face-to-face interactions with friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Employ social media and traditional media to inform your local communities, and reach out to our PAO at NGVA.PAO@mail.mil for best practices in amplifying our message.
  • Address retention issues. Recruiting and retention is everyone’s responsibility. Regular leader discussions must take place with Soldiers and Airmen regarding their career plans. Ask them to stay…get to “the why”… and address underlying causes.
  • Get involved. Our professional associations give voice to our concerns at both the state and federal levels. Long term, this will be vital to establish and grow community links, providing a platform for alumni to supplement command teams and recruiters. We need
    the associations now more than ever.

These are just a few of the key elements that contribute to end strength and readiness.

What is critical to overall success, however, is leader emphasis!

Let me end by saying thanks for all that you, your families and your employers do in support of our missions. There’s a quote by General George Patton that sums up the task ahead, and I challenge you to view everything we do through this lens:

“I am a soldier, I fight where I’m told, and I win where I fight!”

Legion 6