Tag Archives: United States Army Sergeants Major Academy

Camaraderie boosts USASMA’s newest students

By STAFF SGT. TIMOTHY D. HUGHES
NCO Journal

When Soldiers see sergeants major walking to formations across the Army, many feel a sense of pride and respect for the position a select number of career Soldiers are entrusted with.

Many times, Soldiers go as far as fixing the pockets on their trousers when they see a sergeant major within their line of sight to ensure they have no uniform infractions.

Master Sgts. Latevia Williams-Green, Racheal Terrell, (back right to left) Tiny Jones, and Mildred Lara, students in the Sergeants Major Course, United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, encourage classmates during an Army Physical Fitness Test Aug. 25 at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photos by Timothy D. Hughes / NCO Journal)
Master Sgts. Latevia Williams-Green, Racheal Terrell, (back right to left) Tiny Jones, and Mildred Lara, students in the Sergeants Major Course, United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, encourage classmates during an Army Physical Fitness Test Aug. 25 at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photos by Staff Sgt. Timothy D. Hughes / NCO Journal)

Respect for the position did not happen overnight. The rank of sergeant major was established in 1958 and has been worn by the likes of the retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army William O. Wooldridge, and Command Sgt. Maj. Cynthia Pritchett, the first female to be nominated to compete for sergeant major of the Army (twice).

No matter the pedigree, their journey had to start somewhere.

Enter the Sergeants Major Course in the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. The academy was established in July 1972 and is hosting its 67th iteration of resident NCOs.

Class 67 features master sergeants, sergeants major from the Army Reserve and National Guard components, and equivalent ranks from various branches of the U.S. Armed Force and 39 international allied-partner nations.

A student in the Sergeants Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy rests after competing his push-ups during an Army Physical Fitness Test on Aug. 25 on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.
A student in the Sergeants Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy rests after competing his push-ups during an Army Physical Fitness Test on Aug. 25 on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The 10-month-long course covers a range of topics including ethics, oral and written communications, counterinsurgency operations, the legal process, strategic concepts, and the joint operation planning process.

Like other NCO Professional Development Schools, no one — regardless of rank or position — is accepted into the academy without passing the Army Physical Fitness Test, which on Aug. 25 brought out the best in the classmates who displayed remarkable camaraderie after being together for fewer than three weeks.

“We are building relationships that [will] help us move forward with this class for the next 10 months,” said Master Sgt. Latevia Williams-Green, a student at the course.

Australian Army Warrant Officer Darren Murch, staff group advisor, Sergeants Major Course, United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, gives marching commands as students transition to the run event of an Amy Physical Fitness Test on Aug. 25 on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Australian Army Warrant Officer Darren Murch, staff group advisor, Sergeants Major Course, United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, gives marching commands as students transition to the run event of an Amy Physical Fitness Test on Aug. 25 on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.

“Camaraderie is important … we’re all in this journey together,” said the Estill, South Carolina, native. “We started together and our goal is to actually finish together.”

The contagious feeling of camaraderie was not limited to the students as it spilled over to the hardened veterans of the academy’s cadre.

“It makes me feel really good to see the camaraderie,” said Sgt. Maj. Kerry Guthrie, the chair of the Department of Command Leadership of the Sergeants Major Course.

“It helps the students very much because they are from all different [military occupational specialties],” Guthrie said. “It allows them over the time of the course to establish relationships with each other and network.”

The challenging graduate-level course may not always be so light-hearted. The students are required to pass 19 exams and eight written assignments.

A student in the Sergeants Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy performs push-ups Aug. 25 during an Army Physical Fitness Test on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.
A student in the Sergeants Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy performs push-ups Aug. 25 during an Army Physical Fitness Test on Biggs Park at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Although it is not a requirement, students who have not obtained a degree will have the opportunity to do so while at the academy.

“It’s all about education,” Williams-Green said. “Every chance you to try to learn or take some classes — get there! The opportunity’s there for us to get degrees and attend different [NCOPDSs]. We just have to take advantage of it.”

The class is scheduled to graduate next June after USASMA fulfills its mission: to provide professional military education that develops enlisted leaders to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world.

 

SMA Chandler challenges USASMA students to think about Army’s, NCO corps’ future

By JONATHAN (JAY) KOESTER
NCO Journal

As Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III spoke to the incoming class of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy on Friday at Fort Bliss, Texas, he challenged members of Class 65 to look to the future and decide what kind of Army and NCO Corps they want to have.

“What do you want your Army to be?” Chandler asked. “As you look toward the future, what do you want your NCOs or your petty officers to be able to do? You are the people who are going to lead our Army in the future. I’m retiring in five months. You will decide what the Army of 2025 will be.

“You will decide what the NCO corps will be,” Chandler said. “If you look at the many challenges that we have today within our Army, or in the future, it will be an NCO at the end of the day who will get us that last 300 yards. You will decide whether we are successful.”

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler spoke to students from Class 65 of the United States Sergeants Major Academy on Friday at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photos by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III spoke to students from Class 65 of the United States Sergeants Major Academy on Friday at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photos by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

Chandler warned the class that as the Army continues to build rigor across the Noncommissioned Officer Education System, they will be challenged academically at USASMA in ways they perhaps haven’t been before.

“Last year, we had several students who did not make it [academically],” Chandler said. “Now think about that. If somebody has had misconduct in your past experience in NCOES, they might have been dismissed. But did you ever know someone who got dismissed for academics? Probably not. We’re changing the dynamic. It’s not cooperate and graduate. It’s learn, grow and excel. Because the future of our Army is going to be in environments where noncommissioned officers using Mission Command will determine our success on the battlefield.”

But in addition to challenging the group of future sergeants major, he asked them to take some time during their 10 months of coursework to take care of themselves and their families. Chandler noted that all of the students have been under a tremendous load during the past 13 years of conflict, but that now they aren’t in charge of anything but learning and developing as leaders.

“Some of you have physical or invisible wounds that you need to get taken care of,” Chandler said. “You are at the right place, at the right time, to get them taken care of. Don’t squander the opportunity. As a person who spent two years in behavioral health here at Fort Bliss, Texas, on a twice-a-week basis, I know you can get help. Get the help that you need, so that you can be a better leader and an example to your Soldiers.”

Chandler also took the time to give Class 65 students some historical perspective on just how far USASMA has come since its first class more than 40 years ago.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that in 1973, half of the staff and faculty were officers. They were not noncommissioned officers or retired noncommissioned officers, they were officers. And if you think about our education system since 1973 and today in 2014, the strides of those who have come before us, to get us to a point now where the academy has no assigned officers … the trust between noncommissioned officers and officers, I don’t believe is anywhere more manifest than at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy.

“This is the center of the NCO Corps,” Chandler said. “Anything that applies to an NCO is either touched or developed or reviewed or approved through this location.”

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler spoke to students from Class 65 of the United States Sergeants Major Academy on Friday at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler spoke to students from Class 65 of the United States Sergeants Major Academy on Friday at Fort Bliss, Texas.

After speaking to USASMA Class 65, Chandler took time to address a story in this week’s Army Times about a recent promotion board saying too many E-8 Soldiers were coming in overweight. The board also took to task those Soldiers’ raters for sometimes incorrectly annotating Soldiers’ height and weight. Chandler said raters, like all NCOs, must be dedicated to meeting Army standards and helping those who don’t meet those standards to take action.

“It’s a mark of your commitment to the Army profession,” Chandler said. “If you’re unwilling to abide by the Army values and ensure that person is measured by what is the truth, then I question your ability to be committed to the Army overall. It’s a very simple thing. It’s a twice a year check, as part of a PT test to see that a person can meet the Army standard. And if a person cannot meet the Army standard, we’ve got a duty to uphold that standard. That means taking the appropriate actions to ensure that Soldier is monitored and evaluated in the Army Weight Control Program.”

Soldiers spending more time in garrison now and in coming years shouldn’t be an excuse for NCOs to allow standards to slip, Chandler said.

“First of all, I don’t like the term ‘garrison Army’ because we’re not going to sit around and paint rocks,” Chandler said. “We are going to be a more home-stationed Army, a training Army and an Army of preparation. We’re still an Army that is going to deploy, whether that’s toward a hostile environment or to help partner nations, or to show our readiness across the world. People have struggled with the Weight Control Program for as long as we’ve had one. The issue at hand now is, are we enforcing an Army standard? Yes, I’ve seen people who are overweight, but I’m trusting that their leaders are enrolling them and monitoring them and leading them toward meeting the Army standard. When that doesn’t happen, we have a challenge in our Army about our commitment to the Army profession.”