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The SMA office and position turned 50 this year…

The SMA office and position turned 50 this year…
…AND NO ONE NOTICED. FOR TODAY’S SOLDIERS, THE POSITION OF SERGEANT MAJOR OF THE ARMY APPEARS AS NATURAL AS A SQUAD LEADER. But 50 short years ago it was not so. It was on the Fourth of July 1966 that the Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Harold K. Johnson approved the establishment of the position of Sergeant Major... Read More

Historic First: A Medal for Sgt. William H. Carney

Historic First: A Medal for Sgt. William H. Carney
Born in 1840 to a slave mother in Norfolk, Virginia, who was later freed upon her owner’s death in 1854, William H. Carney eventually settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts and prepared himself to enter the ministry. 8 In 1863 the Union Army began to organize colored units, and one of the first was the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, organized at Camp... Read More

Short History of the Specialist Rank

Short History of the Specialist Rank
When considering the discussion for reintroducing of senior specialist ranks to the US Army one must reflect on the trials and tribulations of the past. Here is a short history of the US Army Specialist by CSM (Ret.) Dan Elder. When Washington assumed the role as Commander in Chief of the fledgling Continental Army in 1775, it had adopted the... Read More

Interview with the Sergeant Major of Army Public Affairs

Interview with the Sergeant Major of Army Public Affairs
INTERVIEWEE: SGM Jose Velazquez Jr., Sergeant Major of Army Public Affairs, Pentagon INTERVIEWER: CSM Dan Elder, US Army, Retired This is one in our series of interviews with influential noncommissioned officers, these are leaders in key or strategic positions who are influencing the Army and the Noncommissioned Officer Corps. This interview is with SGM Jose Velazquez Jr., who serves as the Sergeant... Read More

The Changing Role of the Command Sergeant Major

The Changing Role of the Command Sergeant Major
This is from a presentation I gave to the US Military Historian’s annual meeting 8/6/2006 while serving as the 12th command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.  The Changing Role of the Command Sergeant Major Command Sergeant Major Daniel K. Elder Frederick von Steuben, author of the first drill manual for George Washington’s Army, wrote in 1774 that the Sergeant... Read More

Interview with the War College CSM

Interview with the War College CSM
INTERVIEWEE: CSM Malcolm Parrish, Command Sergeant Major, US Army War College; INTERVIEWER: CSM Dan Elder, US Army, Retired This is one in our series of interviews with noncommissioned officers from the field, as well as those in key or strategic positions who are influencing the Army and the Noncommissioned Officer Corps. This interview is with CSM Malcolm Parrish, Command Sergeant Major,... Read More

Ontology of NCO as the Backbone of the Army

Ontology of NCO as the Backbone of the Army
  Soldier’s, Marines, and now Armed Forces NCO/PO Book, hear told the story of the noncommissioned officer as “the Backbone of the Army,” but where does the phrase come from? It is easy to think how the Backbone holds up the body and understand the correlation, but few realize the phrase was first coined in 1896 by Rudyard Kipling in... Read More

Interview with the Army IG Sergeant Major

Interview with the Army IG Sergeant Major
This is one in our series of interviews with noncommissioned officers from the field, as well as those in key or strategic positions who are influencing the Army and the Noncommissioned Officer Corps. This interview is with Sergeant Major Allen Fritzsching, IG Sergeant Major and Senior Enlisted Advisor to The Inspector General, US Army.  Below are his responses to our... Read More

How to be promoted to Sergeant without even Trying

How to be promoted to Sergeant without even Trying
Imagine my surprise when I read that even without going before a promotion board and without the recommendation of a commander or a board of senior noncommissioned officers that a soldier can be promoted to the rank of Sergeant. No wonder that some think the noncommissioned officer corps is not professional,  the bean counters strike again. In a recent Army... Read More

You are a Command Sergeant Major, together we are Command Sergeants Major

You are a Command Sergeant Major, together we are Command Sergeants Major
I got a frantic text from a former soldier who is working for the Army and her boss, an Army Veteran, directed that she was to brief a senior sergeant major and he was demanding that she address him as “command sergeants major.” She was contacting me to make sure she wasn’t crazy and she didn’t even want to try... Read More

Are Noncommissioned Officers Professional?

Are Noncommissioned Officers Professional?
This is in response to the Joint Forces Quarterly article Who Is a Member of the Military Profession? by COL Matthew Moten In “Who Is a Member of the Military Profession?” (JFQ 62, 3d Quarter 2011), Colonel Matthew Moten, USA, brings up some valuable points in his discussion of the professionalization of career enlisted Servicemembers, but it would be useful to know his data... Read More