Gainey Speaks to South African Air Force Students
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
PRETORIA, South Africa, Feb. 14, 2006 South Africa's young troops should be proud of what their country has accomplished in the 12 years since it abolished apartheid, the government's former official policy of forced racial segregation, a top U.S. military leader said here today. Since the new constitution was approved in 1994, South Africa has integrated all ranks and all military services.
U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to students at the South African Air Force College, in Pretoria, Feb. 14. Photo by South African Air Force Warrant Officer 2 Christo Crous
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
"It took us 150 years to do what you did in 12 years," U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey told a group of corporals and sergeants attending the "NCO Formative Course" at the South African Air Force College. "Be very proud of that."
Gainey, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been in South Africa since Feb. 4. He attended an international senior NCO conference in Bloemfontein Feb. 6-10 and is spending most of this week on familiarization visits with each South African military service.
Junior and senior noncommissioned officers and officers learn leadership skills at the college. During a visit here today Gainey imparted nuggets of wisdom to students in two courses. "Remember your professional respect on and off duty," he told the young NCOs.
A short while later he told more-senior NCOs, flight sergeants attending the Senior Supervisors Course, that their challenge is to mold the future for the younger airmen they're responsible for. "If you're here for self-satisfaction, you need to be somewhere else," he said.
Gainey encouraged the NCOs to evaluate themselves every day. "Wake up and ask yourself: 'Am I worthy to lead these airmen?'" he said.
He also told the senior group to be proud of their country's progress in racial relations, noting it took generations for Americans "to realize that your skin color and my skin color are different, but we can sit together, we can work together, and we can respect each other."
"Your legacy will be to keep up that pride," he added.
Since he's been in South Africa, Gainey told the students, he's learned how similar American and South African noncommissioned officers are. "We all have the same desires, dreams and hopes," he said. "We also have the same issues and concerns for our troops, regardless of what country we come from."