The NCO Corps: Standing Army Strong

By Preston, Kenneth O. | Army, October 2010 | Go to article overview

The NCO Corps: Standing Army Strong


Preston, Kenneth O., Army


On January 25, 2008, while serving as a Special Forces weapons sergeant for his team, SSG Robert Miller volunteered to take lead on a night patrol in Konar Province, Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. Because of his Pashto language abilities, he led and directed a small contingent of Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers from the front. As they approached their target area, his team was attacked by insurgents.

In the ensuing chaos, SSG Miller showed his mettle by directing fire and providing cover for his men. He deliberately moved forward, making himself vulnerable as he engaged several enemy positions, providing suppressive fire and buying time for his teammates to take cover. Exposing his position repeatedly, he drew fire from more than 100 enemy fighters. Ultimately, he saved the lives of his fellow soldiers and 15 local ANA soldiers, at the cost of his own life.

SSG Miller's unwavering courage and selfless actions embodied the highest principles of the Special Forces community and are a testament to the Army Values he lived every day. Because of his sacrifice and dedication to duty, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded SSG Miller the Medal of Honor for his heroism and valor in combat.

SSG Miller is the seventh service member to receive the Medal of Honor during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The last recipient of the Medal of Honor was SFC Jared C. Monti, who posthumously received the award on September 17, 2009.

Army SSG Salvatore A. Giunta, a 25-year-old soldier from Iowa, will become the first living servicemember to be awarded the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq or Afghanistan. While serving as a rifle team leader with Company B, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, then-SPC Giunta risked his life on behalf of his fellow soldiers.

On October 25, 2007, SPC Giunta's squad was ambushed by an insurgent force and split into two groups. SPC Giunta exposed himself to enemy fire in order to pull a comrade back to cover. In another act of courage, he engaged two insurgents carrying off a wounded American soldier, killing one insurgent and wounding the other. He then provided medical aid to the recovered soldier.

These incredible soldiers and noncommissioned officers epitomize what is great about all of our soldiers in the Army. Their sacrifice saved numerous lives and truly shows us what it means to be a noncommissioned officer, a leader of soldiers. They are true embodiments of the NCO Creed, and their legacy and sacrifice will not be forgotten.

Today there are approximately 230,000 soldiers forwarddeployed to 80 countries around the world. It's no secret that we are busy and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Of these soldiers, approximately 140,000 are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and the Horn of Africa. I visit hundreds of posts, camps and stations every year, and I am continually amazed at the dedication and selfless service that our soldiers display every day. Our soldiers come from the four corners of the world, making us the most diverse Army in the world. This diversity is our greatest strength and is critical to our future successes.

We would not be able to fulfill our obligation to the nation without the help of the more than 70,000 Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers who are currently mobilized and supporting operations here at home. These citizen-soldiers continue to perform magnificently, and they are critical to our mission success.

Though we are still serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army must prepare for any type of contingency in this era of persistent conflict, including responding to a natural disaster and the subsequent humanitarian relief efforts that may follow. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates outlined his vision of balance in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). He highlighted four roles for land forces - including the Army, Marine Corps and Special Forces - in the 21st century. …

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