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Army mission success relies on trust, respect

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By BRIG. GEN. PEGGY COMBS
Fort Knox Commander
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently said, “The respect our military has earned is built on the character of our people—military and civilian alike. It must never be taken for granted.”
As Soldiers, Army civilians and contractors, it’s critical that we take pride in what we do, who we serve, and what we stand for. After all, people are counting on us—our military leadership, the American people, our fellow Soldiers and civilian workers, our Family members, and our surrounding community members.
The responsibility is great. Just consider these examples as they relate to Team Knox:
* We provide our Army with Soldiers and future leaders who are ready to serve with character, competence, and commitment.
* We develop and manage America’s treasure—our sons and daughters—to make a positive difference in this world.
* We accomplish simple and complex missions daily in garrison and while deployed to combat theaters, and improve our Army as an institution because we are individuals who come together and value one another’s contributions.
* We provide our Family members with a quality of life that is commensurate with their sacrifice.
* We participate actively in our surrounding communities as proud members of the Bluegrass State and promote mutually beneficial partnerships.
How is it that we accomplish what I’ve described, and more? Through trust and respect.
We are a professional organization that is held in high esteem and delivers on what is expected of us. It is incumbent upon each of us to embrace this standard with renewed focus and determination so we can continue to live up to our enduring principles and maintain the trust and respect of everyone. Doing so keeps our Army strong and our nation strong.
We do this best by first approaching everything we do with the right frame of mind. For instance, life is in the verbs—do we “have” to do something, or do we “get” to do something. Appreciate that we are afforded the opportunity to work in—and in support of—the world’s greatest Army. Regardless of rank or experience, know that we all contribute to the positive impact made by our Army and our nation around this world each and every day.  
We must take pause and think beyond ourselves to foster an environment of trust and respect. Take a knee from time to time, and really get to know your teammates. Ask them how they and their Families are doing, and do so with genuine interest and with your undivided attention. Besides being the right thing to do, this simple gesture builds camaraderie and teamwork because a caring and considerate environment wherein all feel valued is in place.
Developing closer working relationships also helps us gain a better sense of when people may be behaving differently. When such instances arise, don’t ignore these signs and be a bystander. Take an active role in ensuring the well-being of your teammates—be it getting them out of an unsafe environment, referring them to a program that can offer help, de-escalating a tense situation, or simply listening.
So much about being a professional goes beyond knowing the core competencies of our daily work-related tasks. Yes, we need to be skilled in our respective subject areas, but we have to be equally, if not more, skilled at exercising uncompromising accountability, character, and ethics. It’s this level of commitment that allows us to maintain the trust and respect of those counting on us, which, as a direct result, establishes the conditions for us to accomplish all of our missions.
Are we are held to an exceptionally high standard? Absolutely, but frankly we should expect nothing less of ourselves. What we do is more than a job; it’s a profession—a profession of selfless and committed service to each other and our nation. And to achieve results, such as reducing misconduct and increasing readiness and resiliency, it requires teams of teams that are founded on trust and respect.
In the coming weeks, we will publish in our various information outlets Fort Knox profiles that provide living examples of trust and respect. The aim is to highlight the importance of this subject, recognize our accomplishments, and provide best practices for us to all to consider.
Let’s work together to set the Gold Standard in professionalism!
Strength—Founded on Trust and Respect - Starts Here—Professionalism Lives Here!
Army Strong!