NEWS | Aug. 21, 2019

Command Sgt. Major Represents the Pride of the Pacific in New Zealand

By Maj. Melodie Tafao

HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Command Sgt. Major Maria "Jessie" Baird attended the Senior Enlisted Leaders Conference in New Zealand this summer. The conference was a professional development forum that provided opportunities through open dialogue with combined, joint and regional partners discussing the key roles of land forces within the Indo-Pacific region. Attendees were able to share knowledge and strategic thinking within defense environments in an academic setting.

Brigadier General Timothy D. Connelly, Commanding General for the 9th Mission Support Command, commended Baird's participation and voice in this international and strategic forum.

"It's important for Soldiers everywhere to know that because the Army is primarily an enlisted force, and it's important to know their enlisted perspective is respected, at the senior levels of our military as well as inside the militaries that we are partnered with," Connelly said. "She did an outstanding job at just that at this recent conference."

Baird was requested by U.S. Army Pacific Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones to be a moderator on the panel "Innovative Approaches to Training." The panel included members from the Australian Defense Force and New Zealand. As a panel moderator, Baird was a positive role model for the audience, bringing her experience, knowledge and humor to the table. One of her biggest contributions included recognizing Reserve Soldiers.

"As the leader of a Reserve unit, I recognize the contribution and sacrifice of Reserve Forces," Baird said. "Before my panel began, I took the time to have all of the Reserve Forces participants stand and be recognized and thanked them for their service because they are twice the citizen serving along their active duty counterparts when called upon and then going to their day job that pays the bills. That hit a homerun with the Reserve Soldiers and most of them thanked me for recognizing them including the New Zealand Army Reserve Command Sgt. Major."

Her involvement and contributions exceeded the expectations as the 9th MSC Command Sergeant Major.

"When Baird transferred to the 9th Mission Support Command headquarters, she now stepped into the realm into international leadership. She took on that role with enthusiasm and professionalism," said Connelly. "All 9th MSC Soldiers, particularly enlisted and Non Commissioned Officers, can be proud as she elegantly and effectively engaged other senior enlisted leaders from countries within the Indo-Pacific Area of Operations."

The conference involved eight nations: United States, Australia, Republic of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Singapore, Britain, and Jordan. Presentations and discussions included climate change as a threat to national and economic security and challenges among the different groups which then allowed for partnership and collaboration.

The 9th MSC is strategically postured to play a major role in the Army Reserve, U.S. Army Pacific, and Indo-Pacific. It is the most ethnically diverse, geographically dispersed command in the U.S. Army Reserve, crossing seven time zones, two U.S. States, two U.S. Territories, a Commonwealth and two foreign countries. Soldiers of the command speak 29 languages. As such, Connelly emphasizes the need for the 9th MSC to continue to participate in these international opportunities.

"These engagements are designed to promote U.S. engagements throughout the Pacific in a way that helps to assure our allies that we remain a steadfast partner in preserving peace, free market, and open lines of communication in the Pacific."