When the Secretary of the Army declared 2009 as the "Year of the NCO," Fort Sill leaders wanted to ensure that the word got out to Soldiers here. It's fitting that Fort Sill's first YNCO event took place in the field.
As cannons shook the ground as they fired behind him, Command Sgt. Maj. Robert White of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery took center stage at Firing Point 196 to announce the YNCO. White, a 30-year Soldier, explained how the Army views the NCO.
"A noncommissioned officer is the primary trainer and executer of trained Soldiers in accomplishing their mission," White said. "We support the officer corps on the planning and execution. So, when you're talking to an NCO he's responsible for the health and welfare of his Soldiers and also of the family members. That's what an NCO does; He supports the officers.
"He's a manager, if you want to put it in civilian terms. He manages anywhere from seven to eight personnel, he has total control of those seven to eight personnel, so he's responsible to make sure that the crew, especially in the artillery, is well trained. Artillery is very crucial ...We have to make sure that wherever we fire it gets to the right point and time."
"From the early days of the Army, the NCO has been on the frontline to accomplish their missions," White said and added that the Secretary of the Army wanted to recognize NCOs for, "all the work that we have done for this country. They are telling us that they appreciate all the hard work that the NCO has done in the past wars, the present war and the future."
While White talked about the YNCO to local reporters, the guns of B Battery, the fort's salute battery, boomed just feet away. The gun crews fired in support of forward observers' training. White said the use of real artillery in their training allows the new FOs to see the accuracy of the guns and learn how different aiming patterns affect the target.
"For instance, because of the rifling of our guns, the...