Sunday September 20, 2015 –
FORT JACKSON, S.C. - Leadership has countless different definitions used by countless different people.
But all would agree that good leadership is essential in terms of success for military units.
Leadership was the theme at the 108th Training Command (IET) change of command.
At a ceremony hosted by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, Chief of the Army Reserve, at Victory Field located on Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Sept. 20, 2015, the 108th bid farewell to one great leader in Maj. Gen. Leslie A. Purser and welcomed another in Maj. Gen. Mark T. McQueen.
“The most important thing we do as leaders is grow other leaders. We take our best and give them a command. That’s why I made her [Purser] a commander and that’s why Mark [McQueen] is coming in behind her as commander of the 108th,” Talley said.
The 108th Training Command, originally formed as the 108th Airborne Division in 1946, consists of three divisions of more than 8,000 soldiers, instructors and drill sergeants throughout 44 states and Puerto Rico.
The 108th, nicknamed the Golden Griffons, provides direct support to the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
Soldiers in the command provide regular instruction and support at the Army’s four Basic Combat Training posts, the Cadet Summer Training missions at Fort Knox, Kentucky and the United States Military Academy at West Point. They also serve as Drill Sergeant Leaders at the United States Army Drill Sergeant Academy on Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Purser became the first female commander of the unit on July 13, 2013.
During her tenure, she has seen the Cadet Summer Training mission move from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to Fort Knox, Kentucky.
She defined leadership by saying, “if you take care of Soldiers, they are going to want to take care of the mission for you. Like Eisenhower said, 'leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.'”
Through her leadership, the 108th has been able to capitalize off of the Army draw down by bringing those officers leaving the active component into the Reserve component.
“I think the next step is to start grabbing those noncommissioned officers transitioning out of the active component. They are trained and focused. It’s a win-win for the 108th,” she said.
Her next assignment is as the special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs in the Pentagon.
“I will be wearing two hats. I will be working on whatever Assistant Secretary Wada needs but also on some things that Lt. Gen. Talley deems important. I’m looking forward to it,” she added.
McQueen’s previous assignment was in Wiesbaden, Germany as the deputy commanding general for the United States Army-Europe. He was responsible for the mobilization of more than 30,000 National Guard and Reserve Soldiers throughout 51 countries within the European theater of operations.
“To me, I am humbled to now be standing alongside and leading, arguably the finest noncommissioned officer core the world has ever seen,” McQueen said. “Not only do drill sergeants stand at the front door of the Army, they are the standard bearers that exemplifies everything that’s right in our Army.”
McQueen says that in the short term, he plans to help guide the 108th in its realignment through the reformation process currently taking place as well better integrate the command with its partners in TRADOC; Cadet Command, USACIMT, and the Drill Sergeant Academy.
Perhaps at the end of the day when the two leaders, Purser and McQueen, went their very different directions, leadership was best defined by the man at the top.
“Leadership is about competence, commitment and character. The most important of those is character. You have to be competent. You have to be committed,” Talley said. “But if you’re not a man or woman of character then you really have nothing else to offer. I think the Army has leadership right in terms of how we define it.”