Combat Team Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson will transition from the brigade level to the division level when he officially takes on the role of senior enlisted advisor to the incoming 3rd Infantry Division commanding general.
3rd ID Commander Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo will be leaving Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield shortly. His next assignment has not yet been announced, according to Fort Stewart public affairs. Cucolo introduced his soon-to-be successor, incoming commander Brig. Gen. Robert B. Abrams, at a retreat ceremony for former 3rd ID deputy commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips on March 25. Abrams has been nominated for appointment to the rank of major general, according to a Department of Defense advisory. Abrams most recently served as commanding general for the National Training Center and Fort Irwin in California
Watson’s soon-to-be predecessor, 3rd ID Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Ashman, will retire from the Army, Watson said.
Watson, known as the Raider brigade’s Marne 7, said Friday his new responsibilities will be the same, only magnified.
The seasoned NCO said his primary focus will be to realize the commanding general’s vision, following his commander’s direction by putting into practice his boss’ intended policies and procedures.
The subcategory of his duties will be to serve and "take care of" soldiers, their families, civilian employees and the community both on and off the installation, he said.
Watson described his leadership style as "open" and "approachable."
"I can’t think of a better man for the job," former 1st HBCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, according to a report by the Frontline. Cloutier is the current division chief of staff. "I can’t think of a better soldier; the division will benefit because he will be a part of the command team leading our soldiers."
Watson joined the Army 29 years ago. He first served with the 3rd ID in 2004, when he was assigned to the 3rd Sqaudron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, according to the Frontline. Watson became a Raider soldier in 2008. He deployed with the 1st Brigade to Iraq in December 2009, returning with the brigade last December.
Now that the division is in a reintegration and reset mode, his next task is to ensure soldiers properly are trained for whatever mission comes next, Watson said.
"We may be in a garrison environment, but we focus on our wartime mission," he said.
Troops again must qualify with weapons, be "immersed" in fundamental skills and be trained as individuals and on a collective level, Watson said.
"It’s all about integrating soldiers and about the way you receive soldiers," he added. Watson said the division is experiencing an influx of new troops, who "want to do something for their country" and are ready for difficult training. He said it is important for soldiers who are leaving Fort Stewart for other assignments to "leave satisfied, knowing all their work was duly valued."
Watson said he always makes it a point to greet the new soldier and ask how long he or she has been here.
"I remember my first day 29 years ago," he said. "It’s an affair of the heart."
Watson enlisted in the Army as soon as he graduated from high school.
"I was 17 years old and in the 11th grade and put in for the delayed-entry program," he said. "That’s all I talked about in the 12th grade; I’m going into the Army."
Watson is a native of Atmore, Ala., a typical small Southern town of about 7,000 residents. The senior NCO said he was influenced by his brother-in-law, who had served in the U.S. Air Force. Watson’s brother-in-law and some of his fellow airmen came to visit and stayed with Watson’s grandmother when he was a young teenager. He said he was impressed by their manners, by their "morals, ethics and integrity."
"They got up, they shaved, they had haircuts," Watson recalled. "They looked sharp. They were very respectful of my grandmother. They didn’t use foul language."
Watson said the Army gave him opportunities in life, and he tells young soldiers when they join, "You get a new chance, a new start."