Army's top enlisted soldier talks cake, Ike jackets, part-time training

Army's top enlisted soldier talks cake, Ike jackets, part-time training

by Tom Roeder
The Gazette

Soldiers across the Army are getting a challenge as the service celebrates its 241st birthday this week.

As every post around the world rounds up a saber to carve into a sweet treat Tuesday, the service's top enlisted soldier is asking colleagues to watch their waistlines, too.

"Earn your cake," said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey.

Dailey, with a series of videos, is pushing soldiers to work out in honor of the service's birthday.

"You don't get to eat cake in the Army unless you do good hard PT," Dailey said in a telephone interview from the Pentagon.

Getting soldiers to run off a few calories is part of a wider initiative to sharpen Army readiness for combat across components. Dailey recently traveled to Kosovo to watch Fort Carson soldiers work alongside Pennsylvania National Guard partners.

"The positive story about this is how well they integrate together," Dailey said.

Dailey said soldiers here will soon start seeing a push to involve Guard and Reserve troops in training. Army leaders say they want the three elements of the Army to be nearly interchangeable in wartime.

Having part-time troops ready to fight if needed is more important due to Pentagon budget concerns. Cutting the active-duty ranks from the 520,000 wartime peak to 450,000 meant cutting combat units. That makes it harder to go to war without calling up the Reserve and Guard.

Better training and more integration of the three Army components makes the wartime call-up more feasible.

"That's the intent - they are all soldiers," Dailey said.

Dailey is pushing another initiative that could change how all those soldiers dress. The sergeant major has signed off on changes that let troops do their morning physical training in black socks and another that allowed them to wear headphones while lifting weights.

Now Dailey is waiting on Army Secretary Eric Fanning to decide if soldiers will get a World War II throwback as a new dress uniform coat. Dailey has long been a fan of the high-waisted "Ike jacket" popularized by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower during the 1940s.

The Army killed the Ike jacket in 1957, when troops transitioned to green dress uniforms. Now, the green dress uniforms are out and the Army blue uniform is in. Dailey wants troops to have the option to buy and wear the dapper short coat with it.

Dailey, who served more than a decade at Fort Carson, said he misses Colorado Springs. The Pikes Peak region, he said, sets the bar for military communities.

"I can't stress enough how important it is that we have that great relationship between Fort Carson and the greater Colorado Springs community," Dailey said.

©2016 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
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