At Fort Bragg, within any given unit there are various levels of leadership, but at the top of each unit there is an officer who commands the unit and a senior enlisted noncommissioned officer.

It’s a good idea to recognize, as well as know, a little bit about the leadership at Fort Bragg.

The XVIII Airborne Corps, which is Fort Bragg’s senior command, is led by Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend and Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones.

Townsend has been the commanding general of Fort Bragg and XVIII Abn. Corps. since May 2015.

Townsend’s military career began in 1982 when he was commissioned as an Army officer upon graduating from North Georgia College. Since then, he has served in numerous units including the 82nd Airborne Division, 7th Infantry Division, United States Pacific Command and more.

Before assuming command of XVIII Abn. Corps, Townsend was the commander of 10th Mountain Division.

His deployments include Operation Urgent Fury, Grenada; Operation Just Cause, Panama; Operation Uphold Democracy, Haiti; and Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan.

During his time as the XVIII Abn. Corps commander, Townsend has emphasized the importance of readiness. During his first commander’s conference, and as reported in the Paraglide, Oct. 22, 2015, he said “Readiness is our number one priority. There is no other top priority.”

Seven months later during his second conference, Townsend recognized that leaders at Fort Bragg were emphasizing readiness. He said the emphasis on readiness is apparent in the many training and live-fire exercises conducted throughout the corps and from the situational reports he gets.

Currently, Townsend is deployed and serves as the commanding general for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

The XVIII Abn. Corps senior enlisted NCO is Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones. Jones assumed responsibility as the corps command sergeant major in August 2015.

Jones enlisted into the Army in 1987 as an infantryman. Since his enlistment, he has served in every infantry position from rifleman to command sergeant major. His assignments include 101st Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Div., and 1st Cavalry Division, among others.

Before his assignment as the corps sergeant major, Jones was the division command sergeant major with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Jones echoes the importance of readiness in the Army and also sees it as a top priority.

“Everything we do is built on readiness and every NCO has to do their part,” he said in an interview with the Paraglide, March 3, 2016.

Leaders must be competent and master their combat tasks and drills, but most importantly, they must lead by example, he said.

Jones is deployed with Townsend and is serving as the command sergeant major for CJTF – OIR.

In next week’s Paraglide, I will introduce you to the Fort Bragg Garrison commander and command sergeant major.

(If you have a question about the military or Fort Bragg you would like me to answer, email me at