Senior Enlisted Advisor Impressed By Troops, Operations in Korea
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 22, 2006 U.S. servicemembers in Korea are trained and ready to perform their missions in the global war on terrorism, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today at the end of a trip around the country.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks to sailors and Marines at Fleet Activities Chinhae, Korea, June 21. Gainey toured military installations in Korea June 20-22. Photo by Spc. Amanda J. Dyer, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
"What I can say today is the men and women stationed in Korea, regardless of the service they serve in, are truly at the tip of the spear," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey. "The motivation and attitude of the people I met the last three days -- it made me proud to be a servicemember."
Gainey has spent the week traveling around Korea to different military installations, meeting with servicemembers and leaders. He ended his trip today at Osan Air Base, home of the 7th Air Force and the 51st Fighter Wing "Mustangs."
Having spent 31 years in the Army, Gainey is no stranger to Korea. He has been here many times in different capacities, but he said this trip has allowed him to "get into the weeds," and really understand what the troops here do. Among other things today, Gainey met with maintenance crews of several fighter jets and talked to them about what they do.
Gainey's visit was important to troops at Osan and across Korea, because it gave them a chance to interact with a senior leader who can influence issues that affect them, said Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Vance Clarke, 7th Air Force command chief. Clarke pointed out that his airmen, and the rest of the troops in Korea, are a small part of history, whether they know it or not, because Gainey is the first senior enlisted advisor to the chairman.
"They are giving him input, whether it be that he's getting to see their pride in what they do or whether it's that he's seen some of the questions that they had and the concerns that he can carry back," Clarke said. "He's definitely getting a message from all of our airmen, and they are providing the input that will shape the messages that he will have as our first senior enlisted advisor to the chairman."
Gainey said he definitely could see the pride the troops in Korea had in themselves and their jobs. Morale in the troops here is also high, Gainey said, and he attributed that to one thing. "The reason it's good is because of leadership," he said. "The command climate that I've seen in the past three days, from the top to the bottom, is excellent."
Gainey's trip included a visit to the demilitarized zone along the border with North Korea. That visit cemented in his mind the importance of the mission here, he said.
"They're in the fight as much as anyone else," Gainey said of the servicemembers in Korea. "You just have to see what's across the border to realize how serious this is."
Gainey was accompanied on this trip by his wife, Cindy. At many of the installations, she toured the housing and recreation facilities while Gainey toured the military side. At Osan, Mrs. Gainey toured the chapels, the base exchange, the new and old housing, the dormitories, and cultural areas outside the gate, providing a good balance to the mission briefings her husband had, Clarke said.
"To me, it's a combined mission," Clarke said. "She will be able to hear and see how we're taking care of our military members and how they live, and he should have gone away with a great sense of the mission. When we tie those two things together, I think we will say at the end of the day, it's been a very successful day."
Another guest joined Gainey on this trip - hit country music artist Michael Peterson. At every stop, Peterson sang for the troops and talked to them, telling them that this was his way of serving the country. He never served in the military, but is now doing what he can to bring a message of support and encouragement to the troops, he said.
"The very idea of who you are and what you stand for moves me," Peterson told one audience of troops. "Thank you for participating in the freedom of other people."
Gainey said he was looking for an entertainer to travel with him, bringing only a guitar and being ready to perform for any number of troops. Several musicians turned him down, he said, but Peterson jumped at the opportunity right away.
"Michael Peterson is one of a kind," Gainey said. "He's a man that has no selfish bone in his body. All he wants to do is give back to the young men and women who have given so much to him."
Gainey's primary responsibility as the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman is to visit troops in the field and bring their concerns and feedback to Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the service senior enlisted advisors. This trip to Korea didn't yield any problems to take back to his boss or to his counterparts, he said, and gave him a good report to make.
"I will talk to General Pace, and I will tell him that the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and (Coast Guardsmen) assigned to Korea are ready," Gainey said. "They are ready to fulfill the mission. It made me proud to represent them."