The 14th Sergeant Major of the Army, Raymond F. Chandler III, is currently on his first visit to Fort Leonard Wood.

The 14th Sergeant Major of the Army, Raymond F. Chandler III, is currently on his first visit to Fort Leonard Wood.

Chandler arrived at the installation Wednesday, and will spend Thursday and Friday touring facilities and learning more about programs relating to wounded warriors, suicide prevention, harassment and sexual assault prevention and other programs for soldiers and their family members.

"I'm here at Fort Leonard Wood because I'm here to visit soldiers and families," he said during a press conference Thursday at the 1st Lt. Joseph Terry Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Responder Training Facility.

Although his tour was just beginning Thursday morning, he said he was already impressed with various aspects of the post, including the training that takes place and the partnership between the services.

"One of the things I'm most impressed with is the partnership with our Army National Guard and Army Reservists, and then with our joint force, with the Navy and the Air Force and the Marine Corps," Chandler said. "It takes everybody to make this thing work for the Department of Defense, and this is really a great example of the joint effort that we make for our nation."

Chandler spends much of this time visiting Army posts around the world and interacting with the soldiers, family members and civilians who make up the Army family. He said it helps him assess the health of the force and learn where things are working well, and where improvements can be made.

During his trip, he said he would be focusing on soldier and family programs across a wide spectrum of services and seeing what was working and what might need some tweaking.

"We're really looking for efficiencies," he said, noting that in the last decade of war, countless programs have been developed and tested for the health of the force.

"This is really unprecedented ground for the nation," Chandler said. "We've never been in this protracted campaign with an all-volunteer force. So you've got to really understand what that is and try to address the need.

He continued, "Now is the time, as we have left Iraq and we continue to draw down in Afghanistan, that we can see where some programs … may have addressed a need but they may not be the most effective."

Still, the top enlisted adviser in the Army said senior leaders across the Department of Defense are committed to maintaining support programs for soldiers and families.

"The Secretary of the Army (The Honorable John McHugh) has said that we're not going to make cuts in the Army on the backs of our families," Chandler stressed.

But a streamlined, smaller Army is coming, he said.

"We've already started on the path of reducing the size of our Army because that's what the nation needs," Chandler said. "Our Army will be smaller, but it will also be as effective, if not more effective, than it is today."

Before concluding the press conference, Chandler also spoke about training and continuing education for soldiers. He said a lot has changed since he enlisted, and the Army and the nation are the better for it.

"When I came into the Army in 1980, the average education of a noncommissioned officer was an eighth grade education. More than 60 percent of the people we were bringing into the Army at that time had no high school diploma or GED. The impact of civilian and military education provides a better force and service to the nation," he said.

Chandler said he was excited to see the training that is accomplished on Fort Leonard Wood, and excited about the future of the force.

"There are great leaders doing great things (here)," he said. "Our NCOs can do amazing things each and every day, and they do.

"There's still going to be plenty of training opportunities, there's still going to be plenty of places for people to serve in our Army, even in 2020 and beyond," he added. "To be able to reset our Army and transition to what the nation needs … it's exciting. I'm looking forward to it."