FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — The sergeant major of the Army addressed everything from headphones in gyms to combat roles for women at Wednesday's town hall.
Sgt. Maj. Dan Dailey, the personal adviser to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on matters affecting the Army's enlisted force, chatted with more than 600 soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division for about 75 minutes at Fort Campbell's Wilson Theater.
Dailey spent much of the presentation emphasizing the chief of staff's push to maintain the force's readiness in the ongoing war on terrorism. As the Army undergoes its drawdown of its active-duty force from 490,000 troops to 450,000 by 2017, it will be forced to get creative with its preparation.
"We've got a smaller force, but in some regards, we're asking our force to do a lot more," Dailey said after the town hall. "That's going to be our focus the next several years to make sure we are ready when we're called upon."
The Army is also continuing to call on the 101st Airborne Division. The headquarters division and 2nd Brigade Combat Team have upcoming deployments this year to Iraq.
Part of that focus includes the Army's new Performance Triad, emphasizing individual readiness. Fort Campbell's 2nd BCT is one of five brigades in the country to first implement the initiative that highlights healthy eating, physical fitness and sleep patterns.
"We're already seeing the fruits of that labor," Dailey said. "We focused real heavily on physical fitness going into this ... we've reduced our overall body fat; our PT scores are going up.
"If we could do those three key components — eat right, get enough sleep and be physically fit — it is a huge cost-savings for readiness capability of the United States Army."
Dailey's talk Wednesday is part of a multiday visit this week to Fort Campbell. On Thursday and Friday, he will spend some time with Chef Robert Irvine. The chef is visiting Fort Campbell to perform a show Friday for families and soldiers on healthy eating, a component of the Performance Triad.
Combat roles for women
Dailey also addressed the recent policy change from the Department of Defense to allow women into combat roles. Women graduated from the Army's Ranger School last year. They were the first to do so.
After their completion of the course, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced combat roles would be open to women as well. After the announcement, many believed it will change the standards for combat roles.
Dailey said Wednesday he's seen some of these women perform and doesn't think it will.
"I would tell any of those naysayers to come with me," he said. "When I did the Army 10-mile run, there was a phenomenal young woman who started the same run as me. I consider myself a pretty phenomenal runner for being my age. ... Not only did she beat me on the run, I never could run that fast. She ran a 59 minute 10-mile.
"Is every woman out there able to do this? No. Is every man out there able to do this? Absolutely not. ... There are women out there that are capable of doing this, and we've got to give them the right to demonstrate their ability if they want to do it."
As part of the town hall, soldiers were also able to ask Dailey questions.
One soldier asked where he and the chief of staff stood on allowing military personnel to carry weapons on Defense Department installations.
"The risk we assume by arming every soldier with [his or her] own weapon is greater than [the risk of] an attack on our own installations," Dailey said.
Dailey said he and Milley and not "anti-gun," but the move to allow concealed weapons on installations is "a risk we're [the Army] not ready to assume."
Dailey said Wednesday he doesn't want to be known as the "uniform guy," but if it's something that doesn't hurt the well-being of the soldiers, they are open to changes.
After a soldier asked about wearing headphones, Dailey said he is bringing to the chief of staff the proposed change whether to allow soldiers to wear headphones in indoor gyms. Soldiers currently aren't allowed to wear them during PT or inside gyms.