All posts by David Crozier

David Crozier is a retired Public Affairs NCO who has spent the last 18 years as a writer/editor/photojournalist both in the civilian market and the Department of Defense. Prior to his assignment as the Command Communications Specialist for the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy in 2013, he spent 10 years as the managing editor and editor of the NCO Journal Magazine, the only military magazine devoted to the NCO Corps.

Class 67 students participate in Black and Gold ceremony

More than 170 students, staff and family members of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy earned a total of 177 degrees: 83 Masters, 79 Bachelors, and 12 Associates and three professional certificates from 18 different colleges and universities during a Black and Gold ceremony June 19, held in the academy’s Cooper Lecture Center. Above, a graduate walks across the stage after receiving his diploma. Photo by Spc. James C. Seals Jr., USASMA

By David Crozier, Command Communications

Black and Gold have been the U.S. Army colors since the American Revolution. Black represents a never ending search for knowledge and gold – the standard of achievement. On June 19, the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy celebrated the more than 170 students, staff and family members who rose to that standard by taking their place among their fellow warrior-scholars during a Black and Gold commencement ceremony held in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center. The graduates earned a total of 177 degrees: 83 Masters, 79 Bachelors, and 12 Associates and three professional certificates from 18 different colleges and universities.

Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, presided over the commencement ceremony. The guest speaker for the evening, Judge M. Sue Kurita, County Court At Law Number Six, El Paso, Texas.

“My favorite place to teach is here at USASMA. I feel I learn so much from my students. It is kind of selfish because I give some, but get so much back,” Kurita said. “I have learned that the Soldier’s Creed is something that is real and is practiced every day. It is not just on the wall in every classroom, but it is how you live – ‘I am a warrior, a member of a team. I will never leave a fallen comrade.’

Kurita said that she has personally seen that statement at work in every class.

Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, congratulates Jeff Davis, director of USASMA’s Operations, after he received his master’s degree in Leadership Studies from the University of Texas at El Paso during ceremonies June 19. Davis joined more than 170 students, staff and family members of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy who earned a total of 177 degrees: 83 Masters, 79 Bachelors, and 12 Associates and three professional certificates from 18 different colleges and universities. Also pictured is Judge M. Sue Kurita, County Court At Law Number Six, El Paso, Texas, who was the guest speaker for the graduation. Photo by Spc. James C. Seals Jr., USASMA

“There are always the students who feel they are not capable of finishing and usually the rest of the class jumps in to help them,” she said. “I know that there are some of you who are sitting there in black and gold that are here because you were helped by your fellow students.”

Kurita said the graduates had overcome many obstacles to get to the evening’s events.

“You are not the normal boring four year straight out of college student. That’s not what you did. You took a different route, you took the difficult route,” she said. “You took a route that took you to places away from your family; places that are dangerous; where you put your lives on the line for me every single day. But you made it. You’re here and I am grateful for that. We are all grateful for that.”

Kurita said the journey the students took was actually superior to that of a conventional four-year degree because their journey showed that they appreciated education.

More than 170 students, staff and family members of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy earned a total of 177 degrees: 83 Masters, 79 Bachelors, and 12 Associates and three professional certificates from 18 different colleges and universities during a Black and Gold ceremony June 19, held in the academy’s Cooper Lecture Center. Photo by Spc. James C. Seals Jr., USASMA

“Because you have experience in life; because you bring those real life experiences to the classroom making education more relevant, more real, you appreciate the gift of education. You set a goal and you achieved it and now you are here. You have pursued that goal and you have achieved it,” she said. “You are without question successful warriors. You know that because you will graduate from [this academy] on Friday. You are all successful leaders and tonight you are successful Soldier-Scholars.”

USASMA is responsible for developing, maintaining, teaching, and distributing five levels of Enlisted Professional Military Education – Introductory, Primary, Intermediate, Senior and Executive. Each level best prepares the soldier to fight and win in a complex world as adaptive and agile leaders and trusted professionals of Force 2025.

The Army’s culminating enlisted Professional Military Education (PME) institution is the Sergeants Major Course. This course provides tools to develop critical reasoning, creative thinking and decision-making skills. Soldiers are provided an education that teaches them to enhance their character, self-expression, and strengthen teamwork abilities. The course assists in the development of logical, practical and original reasoning abilities necessary for problem solving. Students analyze problems based on available information, arrive at logical solutions and decisions with reasonable speed, communicate reasoning and decisions orally and in writing, and supervise to ensure proper execution. Intellectual honesty, integrity, and professional values and standards are highly stressed. The SMC contains a total of 1,484.7 instructional hours, and is also offered as a nonresident course which culminates with two weeks of resident instruction at the academy. The Sergeants Major Course is a ten-month resident program of instruction conducted once a year at the Academy.

Note: Additional photos are posted to our Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/133821783@N02/albums.

Nigerians look to emulate USASMA’s NCO Education program

Explain
Michael Roth (center) curriculum developer for the Master Leader Course, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, briefs Lt. Col. Charles Ogamanya, (left) Chief Instructor of the Nigerian Armed Forces Warrant Officer Academy, on the BLC program of instruction. Also pictured are Master Warrant Officer Musa Abubakar, an instructor at the Warrant Officer Academy and Ricky Taylor, (far right) curriculum developer for USASMA’s Master Leader Course. The Nigerians were visiting USASMA to learn more about enlisted education.

By David Crozier, Command Communications

When international militaries seek to improve the education of their enlisted forces they look no further than the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. Acknowledged by military and civilian organizations as the world’s premier institution for the education of noncommissioned officers USASMA routinely hosts visits from militaries the world over who wish to emulate its educational competency.

In November USASMA welcomed Lt. Col. Charles Ogamanya, Chief Instructor and Master Warrant Officer Musa Abubakar, an instructor at the Nigerian Warrant Officer Academy for three days of familiarization and discussions about the way the U.S. Army trains its enlisted Soldiers. Assisting the Nigerians during their stay were Michael Roth and Rickey Taylor of USASMA’s curriculum development department.

“Our purpose was to go over their curriculum with them and to try and align them with our curriculum to help train their Master Warrant Officers,” Taylor said.

Ogamanya explained that one of the reasons they are looking to USASMA for help is because they realize the need to improve the quality of their enlisted training to help them fill the gaps in leadership they need in the fight against Boko Haram, Nigeria’s militant Islamic group.

“[We need] to maintain the leadership cap we lost by our involvement with our fight against Boko Haram. It became very obvious that we needed to do some serious homework in that part of the academy to better the training for the NCOs,” he said. “We need help in repackaging and reviewing our own curriculum.”

Ogamanya said they also liked the way the U.S. Army trains and educates it soldiers using a tiered system – from Basic Leader Course to the Sergeants Major Course – and would like to introduce a similar system in Nigerian Army.

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Master Warrant Officer Musa Abubakar (left), an instructor at the Warrant Officer Academy, sits in on a class of the Sergeants Major Course during a visit to the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. Abubakar was at the Academy in November learning more about the way the U.S. Army conducts enlisted education in hopes of bringing back lessons learned to the Nigerian military academy.

“We came to USASMA to update our own curriculum and to learn more about how we train NCOs,” he said. “We feel that just focusing on what we have been doing in past years may not be really the best way of doing things. We need to look outward and see what other countries are doing.”

Roth explained that for the Nigerians to emulate the U.S. Army’s process of enlisted education it would require a lengthy process.

“What we are giving them is a long-term vision of our system and hopefully make them understand that to establish a Basic Leader Course is a decades-long process,” he said. “They are going to have to set up infrastructure, facilities, computers and more – something they do not have now.”

Abubakar believes it is something they need to do.

Lt. Col. Charles Ogamanya, (center back) Chief Instructor of the Nigerian Armed Forces Warrant Officer Academy, sits in on a class of the Sergeants Major Course during a visit to the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. Ogamanya was at the Academy in November learning more about the way the U.S. Army conducts enlisted education in hopes of bringing back lessons learned to the Nigerian military academy.
Lt. Col. Charles Ogamanya, (center back) Chief Instructor of the Nigerian Armed Forces Warrant Officer Academy, sits in on a class of the Sergeants Major Course during a visit to the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. Ogamanya was at the Academy in November learning more about the way the U.S. Army conducts enlisted education in hopes of bringing back lessons learned to the Nigerian military academy.

“What I see is how you conduct your training is quite different from ours. When we get back we are going to try and input the method of instruction,” Abubakar said. “[I’m] impressed with the NCO Academy. You must pass the NCO Academy before you can come to the sergeants major academy. In our Army it is not like that. I would try to also sell the idea that we can also create a junior NCO academy. Create that form of effective training.”

Ogamanya said they were looking for a lot from visiting USASMA.

“In our academy the instructors are drawn from good soldiers and officers whose experience is only on the job, and only instruct on their job from their proficiency,” he said. “But we are now thinking of having our instructors come from a life-long learning background with NCO education at various levels. It is very essential. I am not saying that we don’t have good instructors, but it will add to their ability to instruct.”

While at the USASMA, Taylor said that he and Roth went over all of their lessons with them and showed them how to make them sequential as well as the Academy’s instructor training programs. The pair also gave the Nigerians copies of USASMA’s lesson plans and showed them the Basic Leader Course and what should be taught at each level of NCO education. Following their discussions on course materials, both Ogamanya and Abubakar were allowed to sit in during a class of the Sergeants Major Course to observe training styles and classroom dynamics.

“This has been a very good thing,” Ogamanya said. “We will take what we learned and try and tailor it to our culture and way of doing things in Nigerian Army.”

Exploring America’s history and natural wonders

Photo by David Crozier, Command Communications The international students and family members of Sergeant Major Course Class 67 pose for a group photo at the Grand Canyon National Park November 3 on the southern rim during the Field Studies Trip. The students were learning about the Colorado River Expansion which allowed for America’s development of lands westward to California.
Photo by David Crozier, Command Communications
The international students and family members of Sergeant Major Course Class 67 pose for a group  photo at the Grand Canyon National Park November 3 on the southern rim during the Field Studies  Trip. The students were learning about the Colorado River Expansion which allowed for America’s  development of lands westward to California.

Editor’s note: This article is written in first person as the author, David Crozier, was a part of the excursion of discovery.

Excitement was in the air November 1 as the international students and family members of Sergeants Major Course Class 67 loaded up the busses and vans for the Colorado River Expansion field studies trip. I too was on board and very excited to explore with them. The first day of our trip was spent traveling for some 13 hours, with breakfast, lunch and rest area stops along the way. Our route took us north to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we made a left on Route 40 (old Route 66) towards Flagstaff, Arizona. Our first stop would be the Grand Canyon National Park and the Maswik Lodge on the Southern rim. We caught glimpses of the canyon as we made our way through the park to our lodging which only made it more exciting. By the time all of the busses made it to the park, however, it was dark and time for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Morning woke us to deer grazing out back of the lodge and the lure of breakfast grilling in the main building. After refueling ourselves we boarded busses for the short trip to the IMAX theater in Grand Canyon Village for a showing of the movie the Grand Canyon. The film detailed the canyon’s history including that of the Havasapai, Hualapai, Navajo and Hopi Indians who call the canyon home, as well as the frontiersmen who explored it beginning in the mid 1500s. The movie also informed us about the mighty Colorado River which has been meandering through the canyon for some 5-6 million years. Along the way to and from the theater we again saw only glimpses of the canyon. Excitement building!

After lunch we were given the afternoon to explore on our own the

Photo by David Crozier, CommandCommunications The Grand Canyon at sunset brings about spectacular colors and beautiful vistas.
Photo by David Crozier, Command Communications
The Grand Canyon at sunset brings about spectacular colors and beautiful vistas.

south rim of the Grand Canyon. Like most in the group, I had never seen the canyon before, only in pictures and I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see. There are only a few words that can truly describe, breathtaking is one, standing on the rim and looking out over the massiveness of it all.

Class 67 international student Ihor Prokopenko from the Ukraine summed it up nicely, “I still cannot believe that it is real. It looks like a picture. One the of the seven natural wonders of the world, it is amazing.”

Nazim Mohamed, from Maldives was also taken aback. “I come from an island nation where we have small islands with no mountains, so seeing the Grand Canyon was a lifetime experience for me. I have never seen a place like that before.”

Moving from one point to another for different views, one can see why it is considered a natural wonder of the world. The layers of rock and sediment are like a canvas on the side of the canyon walls painting a beautiful mosaic of historic proportions. At one point we could actually see the mighty Colorado some 5,000 feet below. It looked more like a tiny creek and not the mighty river with massive rapids I saw earlier in the movie.

What is also nice about the Grand Canyon is that you can walk the rim (13 miles – need to be healthy and fit), or jump on one of the many shuttle busses to go from one point to another. The group I was leading chose the latter – thank God! We spent the entire afternoon exploring different parts of the rim, seeing as much as we could before making our way to the best vantage point in the canyon for a beautiful sunset.

Photo by David Crozier, CommandCommunications The Hoover Dam was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt
By David Crozier, Command Communications
The Hoover Dam was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt

It was hard to top our experience at the Grand Canyon, but soon our trip took us to the Black Canyon on the border of Arizona and Nevada to the Hoover Dam. This marvel of construction was built in the 1930s during the Great Depression to tame the Colorado River and allow the expansion of civilization westward to California. Our groups were given guided tours of the dam learning along the way about the five million barrels of cement, and the 45 million pounds of reinforcement steel that had gone into making what was then the tallest dam in the world. It took some 21,000 workers five years to build it and in the end the dam fulfilled the goal of taming the mighty Colorado clearing the way for the establishment of cities like Phoenix, Arizona; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Los Angeles, California. The dam also created Lake Meade and provides enough water to irrigate 2 million acres. It’s 17 turbines generate enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes.

“The Hoover Dam I think is very great engineering,” Purwanto from Indonesia said. “That you can build that dam, very big and very dep is very good thing. They can produce not only the electricity, but also provide water for many people and that is amazing.”

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Photo by David Crozier, Command Communications The Mob Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, takes visitors on a historical tour of organized crime from the mob’s creation to today’s headlines.

It was not left to our imagination though that the area is in dire need of rain and a good snow melt from the Rockies as Lake Meade is some 150 feet below its highest level, attained in 1983. While signaling major concern for all who rely on its water, the low levels make for colorful contrasts in the banks of the tall cliffs and banks.

Our next stop was to the city in the desert, Las Vegas, Nevada, Here the group got to see just what the Hoover Dam helped to establish. Las Vegas Nevada grew out of the desert in 1905 as a small city next to the Union Pacific Railroad. At the time President Hoover called for the building of the Hoover Dam, 1931, Las Vegas legalized gambling and the thousands of construction workers for the dam helped Las Vegas survive the Great Depression. Following World War II, Las Vegas saw the establishing of large lavish casinos and big name entertainment, the precursor of present day Las Vegas.

Part of our trip took us to the Mob Museum where the history of the Mob, Las Vegas and the Kefauver hearings which brought about the demise of many of the top gangsters, some of those hearings took place on the second floor of the museum in 1950. The museum took us through the history of organized crime not seen in movies or TV dramas. It was certainly and eye-opening experience.

Photo by David Crozier, CommandCommunications The National Atomic Testing Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institute, tells the story of the nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site which began testing nuclear bombs in 1951. The museum highlights 70 years of nuclear testing with the rarest of artifacts including personal atomic weapons and children’s toys of the 1950s.
Photo by David Crozier, Command Communications
The National Atomic Testing Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institute, tells the story of the nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site which began testing nuclear bombs in 1951. The museum highlights 70 years of nuclear testing with the rarest of artifacts including personal atomic weapons and children’s toys of the 1950s.

While many see Las Vegas as the place the “Mob” built, delving deeper into its history will reveal how the vast area of surrounding desert was crucial to our military and our national security. Just 65 miles north of Las Vegas is the Nevada Test site, a place where nuclear weapons testing was the call of the day in the 1950s as the United States nuclear arms race with the Russia heated up. Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum offers up a fascinating history of nuclear weapons testing and the people who conducted them.

While being able to see all of these fascinating sites and museums, one of my main goals for traveling with the international students was to also ask them questions not only about the trip, but about being in America and their thoughts about what they think of our form of government, culture and traditions.

Asked about our court system Prokopenko said, “What I like is there is a system and it works. Good or bad, it works. This is what I like. If there is a rule you need to follow it. Being in America, everybody makes sure everyone follows the rules. This is what I like. You can have the best rules, constitution, in the world, but if it is not working, if nobody is following the law, it is bad.”

Mohamed said he enjoys the cultural diversity of America. “In Maldives we have a single race, we come from a single place, but Americans are from all over the world and have this blending of cultures. America has the number one culture of the world. This is something every country has to learn.”

Being a first time visitor to America, Purwanto said he loves America’s freedom. “I think it is the culture, the freedom, everybody can do anything; can speak up; can use their creativity to do anything. American people mostly are like kind people, like family people, they have a lot, they talk, and they give their opinion on things, very friendly.”

USASMA recognizes international students, inducts two into Hall of Fame

Warrant Officer Class One Don Spinks (l), Sergeant Major of the Australian Army and a graduate of Class 51, is assisted by Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, in unveiling his International Military Student Hall of Fame induction plaque. Spinks, along with fellow inductee, Sergeant Major of the Montenegro Army, Sergeant Major of the Armed Forces Vladin Kojic, were honored during ceremonies June 16 in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center.
Warrant Officer Class One Don Spinks (l), Sergeant Major of the Australian Army and a graduate of Class 51, is assisted by Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, in unveiling his International Military Student Hall of Fame induction plaque. Spinks, along with fellow inductee, Sergeant Major of the Montenegro Army, Sergeant Major of the Armed Forces Vladin Kojic, were honored during ceremonies June 16 in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center.

The United States Army Sergeants Major Academy ceremoniously recognized the academic accomplishments of the 45 international students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 June 16, by awarding them the International Military Student Badge. The Academy also inducted two former international military students into the International Military Student Hall of Fame.

Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant, thanked everyone for attending the ceremony and honoring the international students.

“This morning we are going to one, recognize two outstanding leaders from their countries. Two we are recognizing our Class 66 international students who have spent the last 12 months here alongside their U.S. counterparts,” he said. “Our international program has a lot of importance to us for a few reasons – it helps us form partnerships with countries from all over the world and it helps broaden our sergeants majors and our officers; it is as much for us as it is for the international students. We get as much as we give.”

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy recognized the academic accomplishments of the 45 international students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 June 16, by awarding them the International Military Student Badge. The Academy also inducted two former international military students into the International Military Student Hall of Fame. Above, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, addresses the audience.
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy recognized the academic accomplishments of the 45 international students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 June 16, by awarding them the International Military Student Badge. The Academy also inducted two former international military students into the International Military Student Hall of Fame. Above, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, addresses the audience.

Defreese said that the international military badging and hall of fame induction ceremony is one of his favorite events of the year as it is the academy’s way of recognizing our international partners.

Following Defreese’s remarks, the academy recognized the two inductees of the International Military Student Hall of Fame. Many of the international students who have attended the Sergeants Major Course have gone on to make significant contributions to the lineage of their own NCO corps and education systems, but only a few have assumed the position of their respective country’s or armed forces senior enlisted advisor, a position similar to that of the U.S. Army’s Sergeant Major of the Army. The Academy recognized three individuals who have done just that by inducting them into the International Military Student Hall of Fame. Malloy assisted each of the honorees to unveil their induction plaques.

The first honoree was Warrant Officer Class One Don Spinks, Sergeant Major of the Australian Army and a graduate of Class 51. After unveiling his Hall of Fame plaque with the assistance of Defreese, Spinks addressed the audience.

“It is an enormous honor for me to be here. For an international student to come and attend the academy it is an enormous privilege, one that is not lost on any of us that have walked that path,” he said. “There is hardly a day that not gone by where I haven’t used or drawn on the experience, the understanding, or the knowledge that I gained here at this academy. I hope that reflect (the same) for all of you here today. … The Academy set me up for success; it gave me the foundation that I needed to be successful.”

Sgt. Maj. Miodrag Jokanovic, a Class 66 international student from Montenegro, is assisted by Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, in unveiling Sergeant Major of the Montenegro Army, Sergeant Major of the Armed Forces Vladin Kojic’s International Military Student Hall of Fame induction plaque. Kojic, along with fellow inductee, Warrant Officer Class One Don Spinks, Sergeant Major of the Australian Army, were honored during ceremonies June 16 in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center.
Sgt. Maj. Miodrag Jokanovic, a Class 66 international student from Montenegro, is assisted by Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, in unveiling Sergeant Major of the Montenegro Army, Sergeant Major of the Armed Forces Vladin Kojic’s International Military Student Hall of Fame induction plaque. Kojic, along with fellow inductee, Warrant Officer Class One Don Spinks, Sergeant Major of the Australian Army, were honored during ceremonies June 16 in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center.

The next honoree was the Sergeant Major of the Montenegro Army, Sergeant Major of the Armed Forces Vladin Kojic a graduate of Class 65. Speaking on behalf of Kojic was Sgt. Maj. Miodrag Jokanovic, a Class 66 international student from Montenegro who read a letter from Kojic.

“It is a great honor for me to be a member of the International Student Hall of Fame for the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. In my opinion this a reward for all noncommissioned officers of the Armed Forces of Montenegro,” Jokanovic read. “At this academy I got the opportunity to get a broader perspective and a better understanding of modern warfare. I also got a chance to become more familiar with cultural diversity and meet friends from different continents, various religion and nationalities. The unique knowledge and experience I gained from this academy made me the leader I wanted to be.”

Following Jokanovic’s remarks, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Huffman, the director of the International Military Student Office, joined Defreese on stage to present the Class 66 International students with the USASMA International Military Student Badge signifying their successful completion of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Sergeants Major Course.

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy International Military Student Office recognized the achievements of the 45 international students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 June 16, by awarding them the International Military Student Badge. Above, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Huffman (center) presents Sgt. Maj. Mohammad Ibrahim Ahmadzai his International Military Student Badge while Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, looks on.
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy International Military Student Office recognized the achievements of the 45 international students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 June 16, by awarding them the International Military Student Badge. Above, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Huffman (center) presents Sgt. Maj. Mohammad Ibrahim Ahmadzai his International Military Student Badge while Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, looks on.

Since the creation of the Sergeants Major Academy in July 1972, the Academy has had a direct impact on the education of the Army’s entire Corps of Noncommissioned Officers through its stewardship of NCO Professional Development Courses. To date, the Academy has graduated 23,639 students from the Sergeants Major Course and currently reaches more than 190,000 enlisted Soldiers annually through any one of its diverse academic products. The Academy gained international attention early on in its history and hosted its first international student in Sergeants Major Course Class 6 in 1975. Since then, it has graduated 821 international students from the Sergeants Major Course and dozens more from its other professional military education and functional courses. Our international partners proudly wear the Sergeants Major Academy International Military Student Badge and return to their homelands to expertly lead and train their Soldiers. Because of their experience at the Sergeants Major Academy, these great leaders maintain and strengthen productive relationships with the United States and their enlisted counterparts throughout the department of defense.

For more photos of the ceremony visit our Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/133821783@N02/albums.

USASMA celebrates, bids farewell to Class 66

Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, hosted several dignitaries and international partners in the June 17 graduation ceremony of Sergeants Major Course Class 66. Above, Defreese, as viewed through one of two large video screens, talks to the capacity crowd at the Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso, Texas. The academy celebrated the accomplishments of the 476 students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 – a class that had within its ranks 47 international students from 33 different countries as well as members of the Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, hosted several dignitaries and international partners in the June 17 graduation ceremony of Sergeants Major Course Class 66. Above, Defreese, as viewed through one of two large video screens, talks to the capacity crowd at the Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso, Texas. The academy celebrated the accomplishments of the 476 students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 – a class that had within its ranks 47 international students from 33 different countries as well as members of the Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy celebrated the accomplishments of the 476 students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 – a class that had within its ranks 47 international students from 33 different countries as well as members of the Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. The academy assisted in handing out 150 degrees during a Black and Gold Ceremony on June 13, followed by the International Military Student Badging and Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 16.

On June 17, the graduates, accompanied by their family members filled the Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso to complete their 10-month educational experience at USASMA. Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the Academy, welcomed all of the special guests and thanked all for attending.

“What a beautiful morning for a graduation,” he said. “This class is special for a couple of reasons – first, although I love the air force and our airmen, the last class allowed them to win two of the three writing awards and there were only three airmen in the class. The Soldiers of class 66 reclaimed some honor this year and swept all three awards. So good job. Second, and this may have happened before, but not recently and not in my memory, despite the fact that I increased the complexity and rigor of this course we did not have a single academic failure.”

Warrant Officer Don Spinks, the 10th Regimental Sergeant Major of the Australian Army, hands Command Sgt. Maj. Shahzad Khan Totakhil of Afghanistan (left) his diploma during the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Sergeants Major Course Class 66 graduation ceremonies June 17 held at the Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso, Texas. Also in the picture is Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the academy.
Warrant Officer Don Spinks, the 10th Regimental Sergeant Major of the Australian Army, hands Command Sgt. Maj. Shahzad Khan Totakhil of Afghanistan (left) his diploma during the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Sergeants Major Course Class 66 graduation ceremonies June 17 held at the Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso, Texas. Also in the picture is Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the academy.

Upon concluding his remarks, Defreese introduced Warrant Officer Donald Spinks, the 10th Regimental sergeant major of the Australian Army, as the keynote speaker who after thanking all for their attendance and allowing him to speak, turned his thoughts to the prominence of the day.

“Fifteen years ago this month I graduated with my fellow classmates of Class 51. I do feel privileged to return here to witness the graduation of this class,” Spinks said. “Today we join the 474 members of Class 66 to celebrate their achievements and recognize their hard work.”

After congratulating the Academy and its staff for their efforts to support Class 66, Spinks said he wanted to leave the graduates with a few words of wisdom from his experience as a graduate himself.

“Today is all about you and your classmates and rightly so. Enjoy that. I ask that you enjoy life and reflect on what has been for most a hard slope over the last few months,” he said. “However sergeants major, come tomorrow and into the beyond, it will be all about others. You will be the one they look to for guidance and leadership. It is on you to be ready. Your Soldiers, Marines, airman and coast guard will be looking to you so lead wisely.”

The students of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Sergeants Major Course Class 66, patiently await the start of the graduation ceremony held June 17 at the Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso, Texas. The 476 graduates, which included 45 international students from 33 partner nations, as well as members of the sister services, completed their 10-months of studies at the academy and will now leave for parts unknown to lead Soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and coastguardsmen and international militaries.
The students of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Sergeants Major Course Class 66, patiently await the start of the graduation ceremony held June 17 at the Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso, Texas. The 476 graduates, which included 45 international students from 33 partner nations, as well as members of the sister services, completed their 10-months of studies at the academy and will now leave for parts unknown to lead Soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and coastguardsmen and international militaries.

Spinks gave a special shout out to the international students for their accomplishment.

“I offer you a special congratulations for your achievements. For many of you English is a second or third language. The doctrine, the policies, the military function may also be very unfamiliar,” Spinks said. “Together these factors have made your year a little harder for one. You all should take great pride in accepting your scroll here today.”

To the class he encouraged all to know their jobs, become the expert; be proficient in the profession of arms; establish and maintain good routines; be responsible and accountable; live by the service values; report accurately and honestly; encourage and support education; look after one another, and take care of their families.

“Your journey starts tomorrow,” he said. “USASMA has given you the skills, the knowledge and the attitude to (go forward). The rest will be up to you.”

Following Spink’s remarks, the sergeant major was joined on stage by Defreese, Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey and Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, Training and Doctrine Command, command sergeant major, to hand out the awards and diplomas.

Warrant Officer Don Spinks, the 10th Regimental Sergeant Major of the Australian Army, gave the keynote address during the graduation ceremony of U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Sergeants Major Course June 17 at the Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso, Texas. Spinks challenged the graduates to be the best example they could be for their troops and to live by the service values. The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy celebrated the accomplishments of the 476 students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 – a class that had within its ranks 47 international students from 33 different countries as well as members of the Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Warrant Officer Don Spinks, the 10th Regimental Sergeant Major of the Australian Army, gave the keynote address during the graduation ceremony of U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Sergeants Major Course June 17 at the Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso, Texas. Spinks challenged the graduates to be the best example they could be for their troops and to live by the service values. The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy celebrated the accomplishments of the 476 students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 – a class that had within its ranks 47 international students from 33 different countries as well as members of the Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Earning class awards were: Sgt. Maj. Thea E. Ray who earned the Association of the United States Army Award for Military Writing; Sgt. Maj. Deflin J. Romani who earned the Association of the United States Army Award for Military Excellence in Leadership; Sgt. Maj. Marissa M. Cisneros and Ramon Baca who earned the ULTIMA Physical Fitness Excellence Award; Sgt. Maj. John C. Black who earned the Military History Award; Sgt. Maj. Diane G. Cummings who earned the Ralph E. Haines Jr. Award for Research; Sgt. Maj. John J. Knight who earned the William G. Bainbridge Chair of Ethics Award; Sgt. Maj. Anazia Andrus-Sam who earned the National Association for Uniform Services Award; and Master Sgt. Andre Torre of Italy who earned the International Student Excellence Award.

The Army’s culminating enlisted Professional Military Education (PME) institution is the Sergeants Major Course. This course provides tools to develop critical reasoning, creative thinking and decision-making skills. Soldiers are provided an education that teaches them to enhance their character, self-expression, and strengthen teamwork abilities. The course assists in the development of logical, practical and original reasoning abilities necessary for problem solving. Students analyze problems based on available information, arrive at logical solutions and decisions with reasonable speed, communicate reasoning and decisions orally and in writing, and supervise to ensure proper execution. Intellectual honesty, integrity, and professional values and standards are highly stressed. The SMC contains a total of 1,484.7 instructional hours, and is also offered as a nonresident course which culminates with two weeks of resident instruction at the academy. The Sergeants Major Course is a ten-month resident program of instruction conducted once a year at the Academy.

More stories and photos of the week’s cer­emonies can be found on the Academy’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USASMA#. Additional photos of the event can be found on our Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/133821783@N02/albums.

Old Guard display gets new look

Former members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard stand in front of the newly updated historical display located in the Cooper Lecture Center, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. The team worked for a week to bring the display up to Old Guard standards and unveiled it to the public during ceremonies April 6. Pictures are (l-r)  Master Sgts. Michael Goodman, Stephen McDonald, Shelly Jenkins, Fletcher Whittenberg, and Sgt. Maj. Anthony Chavez. Standing in the rear is Master Sgt. Justin Grieve.
Former members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard stand in front of the newly updated historical display located in the Cooper Lecture Center, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. The team worked for a week to bring the display up to Old Guard standards and unveiled it to the public during ceremonies April 6. Pictures are (l-r) Master Sgts. Michael Goodman, Stephen McDonald, Shelly Jenkins, Fletcher Whittenberg, and Sgt. Maj. Anthony Chavez. Standing in the rear is Master Sgt. Justin Grieve.

A visit to Arlington National Cemetery is not complete until one witnesses a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) perform his or her duties keeping watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or perhaps catches a glimpse of a full honors funeral complete with a U.S. Army Caisson Platoon, bugler and rifle firing team. Those who wore the uniform can tell you stories of the tireless preparations they make to their uniforms to ensure they provide “perfect honors.” So it came as no surprise to the staff of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy that members of the Old Guard, including students from Sergeants Major Course Class 66, wanted to make perfect the NCO Heritage and Education Center’s display of the Old Guard. On April 6, they unveiled the redesigned display.

“When I came to the First Sergeant Course in 2006 this display was at the NCO museum and I noticed it was a corporal. The uniform was out of tolerance and was actually set up as a platoon Soldier and not reflective of proper setup,” Sgt. Maj. Anthony Chavez, an instructor at USASMA. “I didn’t have enough time at that point to work on it, so coming here as an instructor I got the chance. I asked the NCO Heritage and Education Center and the USASMA staff if we could do it and they were 100 percent on board.”

The Ceremonial Uniform of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, is on display at the Cooper Lecture Center of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. Members of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 and staff of the Academy updated the display to reflect today’s Soldier in the Old Guard and unveiled to the publics in ceremony April 6.
The Ceremonial Uniform of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, is on display at the Cooper Lecture Center of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. Members of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 and staff of the Academy updated the display to reflect today’s Soldier in the Old Guard and unveiled to the publics in ceremony April 6.

As a former platoon sergeant and first sergeant with the Old Guard, serving from 2005 until 2010, Chavez knew exactly who he needed to recruit and found his volunteers in Class 66 – former members of the Old Guard Master Sgts. Fletcher Whittenberg, platoon sergeant and first sergeant from 2007 – 2010; Shelly Jenkins, first sergeant, 2009 – 2012; Michael Goodman, operations sergeant 2014 – 2015; Justin Grieve, squad leader and platoon sergeant, 2004 – 2008; and Stephen McDonald, first sergeant, 2013 – 2015. After a week of after-hours work, the team was ready to display their collaboration.

“Today the 6th of April 1948 is a significant day for two reasons in our Army’s history. First the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment was reactivated and assigned the ceremonial mission of Fort Meyer, Virginia taking it from the Military District of Washington,” Whittenberg said. “Second tomb sentinels began standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of the weather.”

Whittenberg informed those present about the Old Guard’s mission along with a bit of its history.

“The old Guard is more than just sentinel guards at the Tomb. The Old Guard is the oldest active infantry unit in the Army being first organized as the 1st American Regiment in 1784,” he said. “The Old Guard conducts memorial ceremonies to honor fallen comrades with military funerals at Arlington, National Cemetery, as well as dignified transfers of remains to Dover Air Force Base. Arlington is the only cemetery in the world that offers a full military honors funeral. Full honors burial services are offered to all officers and enlisted Soldiers who have fought and died in combat for the nation.”

Whittenberg then called for Goodman and Jenkins to pull back the cloth coverings from the display case to unveil the work they had done.

Memorabilia of former members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard,  sits on display at the Cooper Lecture Center, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. A team of cadre and members of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 recently updated the display and unveiled it to the public during ceremonies April 6.
Memorabilia of former members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard, sits on display at the Cooper Lecture Center, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. A team of cadre and members of Sergeants Major Course Class 66 recently updated the display and unveiled it to the public during ceremonies April 6.

“Inside the display case you notice the memorabilia and photographs of Old Guard Soldiers and their history. Also displayed is the unique ceremonial uniform, noticeably different from the Army Service Uniform due to the stay bright medals that each Soldier must learn to make and produce on their own to place on their uniform in the exact precise location,” Whittenberg said. “Another noticeable item on the uniform that many people pick out and ask a lot of us about is, there is no name tag. They do not wear a name tag when they are in ceremonial uniform.”

Looking at the uniform and the memorabilia on display brought back some found memories by the team.

“This project was special because the time that I was at the Old Guard it really meant a lot and I got the chance to see the Army in a whole new light and perspective from a Soldier – from fighting on the battlefield to respecting them at internment,” Goodman said. “It actually took me back to when I was standing on the marks that I did with the Old Guard and I got ceremonial qualified. So seeing that uniform in that pristine condition it brought back a lot of memories.”

Chavez agreed. “Definitely, anytime I work with the uniform or see uniforms dress now, I will reflect back to the time in the Old Guard. That was a great time in my career and a very great experience including the funerals and ceremonies.”

“We were laughing because as we had the uniform and everything built on the mannequin, we were correcting each other, because we were like that’s not good, and this is not good. As a matter of fact about 10 minutes before the ceremony started this morning we noticed that the pant legs weren’t right, so we had to open the case and make another adjustment which is the same way it was in the Old Guard before a ceremony,” Whittenberg said. “You were constantly refining and retuning the uniform because you want to perform a perfect honor. Because for some American families and some foreign families it is the first time they have ever been involved with the Army so you try to give them, I hate to say that it is a show, but you try to honor that fallen Soldier by giving them perfect honors. And we wanted to have a perfect Soldier for our teammates here in the academy.”

The display, located in the foyer of the Cooper Lecture Center, is available for viewing during normal Academy hours, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5 p.m. The display is one of several that are part of the NCO Heritage and Education Center and help tell the story of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps.

For more information about the Old Guard visit their website at http://www.oldguard.mdw.army.mil/regiment. Additional photos of this event can be seen on the USASMA Flikr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/133821783@N02/albums. For information about the NCO Heritage and Education Center visit http://usasma.armylive.dodlive.mil/?page_id=419.

Photos by David Crozier, Command Communications

USASMA inducts seven into International Student Hall of Fame

Induction
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy inducted seven former international students into the USASMA International Student Hall of Fame in ceremonies April 12 at the academy on Fort Bliss. The inductees were (beginning with 2nd from left) Sgt. Maj. Lyubomir Kirilov Lambov, Sergeant Major of the Bulgarian Army; Sgt. Maj. of the Army Henry Whistler Dulce Dulce, Sergeant Major of the Army for Colombia; Warrant Officer One Anthony Lysight, Force Sergeant Major of the Jamaica Defence Force; Chief Warrant Officer Mohammad Al-smadi, Sergeant Major of the Jordanian Armed Forces; Command Sgt. Maj. Gil Ho Lee, Command Sergeant Major of the Combined Forces Command, Republic of Korea and Ground Component Command; Sergeant Major Genc Metaj, Sergeant Major of Kosovo Security Forces; and Plutonier adjutant principal Adrian Mateescu, Senior Enlisted Leader (Command Sergeant Major) for the Romanian Land Forces. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey (l) and Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese (r), commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, pose for a picture with the inductees at the close of the ceremony. (Photo by Sgt. Jessica R. Littlejohn, 24th Press Camp Headquarters)

For more than 44 years the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy has welcomed international military students from partner nations into its noncommissioned officer professional development courses. To date the academy has graduated 821 students, representing 76 countries, from the Sergeants Major Course.

On April 12, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, recognized the achievements of seven of those graduates by inducting them into the International Student Hall of Fame during opening day ceremonies of the International Training and Leader Development Symposium hosted by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey.

Inducted were Sgt. Maj. Lyubomir Kirilov Lambov, Sergeant Major of the Bulgarian Army; Sgt. Maj. of the Army Henry Whistler Dulce Dulce, Sergeant Major of the Army for Colombia; Warrant Officer One Anthony Lysight, Force Sergeant Major of the Jamaica Defence Force; Chief Warrant Officer Mohammad Al-smadi, Sergeant Major of the Jordanian Armed Forces; Command Sgt. Maj. Gil Ho Lee, Command Sergeant Major of the Combined Forces Command, Republic of Korea and Ground Component Command; Sergeant Major Genc Metaj, Sergeant Major of Kosovo Security Forces; and Plutonier adjutant principal Adrian Mateescu, Senior Enlisted Leader (Command Sergeant Major) for the Romanian Land Forces. One-by-one, each was brought onto the stage to unveil their plaques that will hang on the academy walls adjacent to the others who have been inducted before them.

“Each of these sergeants major have had long and distinguished careers and like all of us here have dedicated their lives in service to their country,” Defreese said. “There is a common bond between all of us here … each of us have the same basic duty – accomplishing the mission and taking care of our Soldiers. This truly makes us all brothers and sisters.”

Dulce
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy inducted seven former international students into the USASMA International Student Hall of Fame in ceremonies April 12 at the academy on Fort Bliss. Above, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese poses for a photo with Dulce after unveiling his Hall of Fame plaque.(Photo by Sgt. Jessica R. Littlejohn, 24th Press Camp Headquarters)

Defreese said that he often tells delegations from other countries who visit USASMA that having international students attend NCOPDS courses is beneficial to all.

“The students and faculty here get more from our international students and faculty and their diversity, knowledge and experiences which they bring to us, then they get from us,” he said. “This newest class of hall of fame inductees are outstanding examples of this and we are privileged to honor them today and call them friends.”

Dailey lauded the inductees for their selection and said it was his honor to be the sergeant major of the Army that is bestowed the ability to spread education across the world.

“It is truly humbling,” he said. “Think about it, the sergeant major of the Army of the land forces, the combined forces of militaries across the world have come to our institution and that is a true honor.”

Dailey also lauded Defreese for his work in facilitating the international military student program.

“Our commandant has done a fabulous job of preserving the legacy of what we witness here today – an academic institution that has come second to none,” Dailey said. “This is an institution that is built time and time again from the great men and women who have been students here, but also from the great leaders that have had the privilege of leading this institution to an institution of excellence throughout history. I am truly proud and honored to represent the Army that represents the world through education.”

al-Smadi
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy inducted seven former international students into the USASMA International Student Hall of Fame in ceremonies April 12 at the academy on Fort Bliss. Above, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese poses for a photo with Al-Smadi after unveiling his Hall of Fame plaque. (Photo by Sgt. Jessica R. Littlejohn, 24th Press Camp Headquarters)

Since the creation of the Sergeants Major Academy in July 1972, the Academy has had a direct impact on the education of the Army’s entire Corps of Noncommissioned Officers through its stewardship of NCO Professional Development Courses. To date, the Academy has graduated 23,639 students from the Sergeants Major Course and currently reaches more than 190,000 enlisted Soldiers annually through any one of its diverse academic products. The Academy gained international attention early on in its history and hosted its first international student, Warrant Officer Robert J. May of Australia, in Sergeants Major Course Class 6 in 1975. The international partners proudly wear the Sergeants Major Academy International Military Student Badge and return to their homelands to lead and train their Soldiers. Because of their experience at the Sergeants Major Academy, these leaders maintain and strengthen productive relationships with the United States and their enlisted counterparts throughout the Department of Defense.

Sergeants Major Academy holds graduation for Master Leader Course pilot class

The students Master Leader Course pilot class number 1 pose for a graduation picture on the academy grounds before attending their graduation ceremony. The 32 students were individually selected from across the regular Army, National Guard and Reserve component and represent professional NCOs from a wide range of career management fields, completed the 108-hour course of instruction over 15-days starting on October 19 and culminating with the graduation ceremony on November 2.
The students Master Leader Course pilot class number 1 pose for a graduation picture on the academy grounds before attending their graduation ceremony. The 32 students were individually selected from across the regular Army, National Guard and Reserve component and represent professional NCOs from a wide range of career management fields, completed the 108-hour course of instruction over 15-days starting on October 19 and culminating with the graduation ceremony on November 2.

For every educational or training course the Army teaches there has to be a first class. On November 2, the 32 students of the first Master Leader Course 15-day pilot class completed the 108 hours of rigorous coursework and received their diplomas during ceremonies held at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center.

Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, addressed the graduating students and asked them if the course was challenging, to which he received a rousing “Hooah”. He followed that with, “Was it too challenging?” to which he got only a couple of Hooahs.

“We wanted this to be challenging, right to that line,” Defreese said. “We never want anyone to fail. That is not the goal. The goal is to learn something. … The goal is to help you learn how to critically think and solve problems.”

Defreese explained that literally one year ago sergeant major of the Army Dan Dailey called the academy and said the chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, wanted an E-8 level course; he wanted it quickly; how long will it take?

 Master Sgt. Shawn A. Blanke of the Utah Army National Guard, receives his certificate of graduation from Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, during ceremonies November 2 in the Cooper Lecture Center. Blanke, after going through instructor training course at USASMA, will facilitate the second Master Leader Course pilot class which will be held at Camp Williams, Utah in January.
Master Sgt. Shawn A. Blanke of the Utah Army National Guard, receives his certificate of graduation from Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, during ceremonies November 2 in the Cooper Lecture Center. Blanke, after going through instructor training course at USASMA, will facilitate the second Master Leader Course pilot class which will be held at Camp Williams, Utah in January.

“So the answer is, about one year, that’s how long it takes and the nonresident version of this may take until next summer to get it done because that takes even longer to do,” he said. Defreese lauded the students for being the first, putting up with the long academic days and for providing their comments and feedback.

“The feedback we get from you is absolutely vital to the second pilot we are going to run in Utah,” Defreese said. “From there we will do a little bit more refinement and do the final pilot at the reserve center at Fort Knox and then sometime in Fiscal Year 17 it will be a totally vetted (intermediate operating capability). So you are an integral part of that and it should be something that you are proud of.”

Charles Guyette, the director of the Directorate of Training, lauded the efforts of the training developers and staff who put the course together.

“When the chief of staff and the Army leaders say, “Hey go out and make this thing happen”, and I turn to you guys and you put all this effort to it and it comes to fruition today after these 15 grueling days of academia that we had to put these Soldiers through, the outcome is fully credited to you,” he said.

Asked what he thought about the creation of the Master Leaders Course, graduate 1st Sgt. Thomas Hughes of the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, said that he thought it was the right move.

“I personally haven’t been to an NCO professional development course since 2007. That’s eight years,” he said. “So I think there is tremendous value-added to have a Master Leader Course that kind of bridges the gap between the Senior Leader Course and the Sergeants Major Course.”

Sgt. Maj. Brian O’Leary, a Sergeants Major Course Class 65 graduate and an instructor for the Master Leader Course, facilitates a class on Special Conditioning Programs under the Personnel Readiness block of instruction. O’Leary was one of six individuals selected to teach the initial pilot class that will be the basis for the next two pilot class and ultimately the Army’s Master Leader Course.
Sgt. Maj. Brian O’Leary, a Sergeants Major Course Class 65 graduate and an instructor for the Master Leader Course, facilitates a class on Special Conditioning Programs under the Personnel Readiness block of instruction. O’Leary was one of six individuals selected to teach the initial pilot class that will be the basis for the next two pilot class and ultimately the Army’s Master Leader Course.

Hughes noted the course’s rigor and tight schedule, but also believed that if he had attended the course earlier in his career he would have been a more successful senior NCO.

“I believe this course really sets up a senior sergeant first class promotable, or master sergeant who is going to go onto a staff, to assist more than anything,” Hughes said. “We briefly covered a lot of the stuff a first sergeant would do, but as a first sergeant you still need to understand what (occurs) on a staff so you know how your company will be required to support whatever decisive action that you will be engaging in.”

Fellow graduate Master Sgt. John Itzin, the senior operations NCO at the Army Reserve Readiness Training Center at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and who will be one of the instructors for the third pilot class, said the course is a little more oriented towards staff functions than first sergeant duties and he believes it is on target.

“Being able to integrate ourselves onto a staff and be more valuable to the commander and other staff officers is something NCOs really need to be cognizant of. The ability to be able to be brought back in and have a more meaningful role I believe is very important,” he said. “As a promotable sergeant first class being able to back off from that tactical outlook of task management and to step back (from) and get the big picture is something that is brought into this course. I think that is very valuable because that is one area that I struggled with when I was that promotable sergeant first class going into my first staff position.”

The 108 hours of instruction is broken down into three modules – Foundation, Leadership and Army Profession, and Army and Joint Operation, Sgt. Maj. William Gentry, the Curriculum Development and Education Division sergeant major said.

“It provides the Army with senior noncommissioned officers who are self-aware and NCOs of character, confidence, and presence with the skills necessary to shape the joint operational environment, overcome the friction created by uncertainty and operate in an ambiguous environment,” he said. “So I believe this course is geared for the sergeants first class and the newly promoted master sergeants to enable them to perform the duties of a senior staff NCO or operations master sergeant in the S3. The course will give them the confidence to go into that staff role, with the education and institutional knowledge to be a productive member of a senior staff.”

The first pilot class was taught using two different instructional strategies – one using essays assessments, the other using a research project that enhances the collaboration between the students. Gentry said based on the educational outcomes from those two strategies will determine the way ahead for the next two pilot classes.

Master Sgt. Forte L. Cunningham, facilitates a practical exercise during the 15-day Master leader Course pilot class. The Master leaders Course consists of topics such as Army and Joint Doctrine; Interagency Capabilities and Considerations; Plans, Orders and Annexes; Decisive Action; Military Justice Rules and Procedures; Command Inspection program; Servant leadership; Personnel Readiness; Military Decision Making Process; Public Speaking; Military Briefings and Writing.
Master Sgt. Forte L. Cunningham, facilitates a practical exercise during the 15-day Master leader Course pilot class. The Master leaders Course consists of topics such as Army and Joint Doctrine; Interagency Capabilities and Considerations; Plans, Orders and Annexes; Decisive Action; Military Justice Rules and Procedures; Command Inspection program; Servant leadership; Personnel Readiness; Military Decision Making Process; Public Speaking; Military Briefings and Writing.

“The desired outcome is an operational leader that has the talent, ability and confidence in himself or herself to be a creative and critical thinker, to not just worry about beans and bullets, but to actually be able to think on line with that company commander or that field grade officer on the staff,” Gentry said. “Right now I give this course two thumbs up. Because it is only going to get better from here. When the students tell me they wish they had known this stuff three or four years ago and they are excited about what they know now, we are hitting the mark.”

The Master Leader Course consists of topics such as Army and Joint Doctrine; Interagency Capabilities and Considerations; Plans, Orders and Annexes; Decisive Action; Military Justice Rules and Procedures; Command Inspection program; Servant leadership; Personnel Readiness; Military Decision Making Process; Public Speaking; Military Briefings and Writing.

The MLC has been specifically designed to prepare sergeants first class for the increased leadership and management responsibilities required of all senior NCOs. The course is the fourth of five NCO Professional Development Courses beginning with the Basic Leader Course and culminating with the Sergeants Major Course. The makeup of the first pilot class consisted of 32 individually selected regular Army, National Guard and Reserve component professional NCOs from a wide range of career management fields.

Perkins provides Class 66 clarity on future Army

Gen. David G. Perkins, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, spent the morning Sept. 30 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas, talking to the 454 students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66. The general discussed the NCO’s role in Mission Command and the Army Operating Concept of Win in a Complex World and lauded them for being the stewards of the profession.
Gen. David G. Perkins, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, spent the morning Sept. 30 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas, talking to the 454 students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66. The general discussed the NCO’s role in Mission Command and the Army Operating Concept of Win in a Complex World and lauded them for being the stewards of the profession.

In an age of uncertainty, faced with the realities of sequestration and a downsizing Army, Gen. David G. Perkins, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, spent the morning of Sept. 30 providing clarity on the Army’s operating concept and the role of the senior NCO in mission command, to the 454 students of Sergeants Major Course Class 66.
TRADOC does a lot of things, Perkins explained, but what it is for is to be the architect of the Army, the designers of the future Army, who are currently looking at 2025 to 2040 and what capabilities the Army needs to have. TRADOC is the “design-build firm” for the Army.
As the designer of the Army Operating Concept, Perkins said the institution took a look at past concepts and found the 1981 Airland Battle Operating Concept to a powerful example of what the operating concept does – ask the big question.
“The first question it asked was what echelon of war are we going to design the United States Army to operate in? That is a big question. It didn’t get wrapped around small questions,” he said. “So remember that when you are in charge of an organization, your job is to ask big questions and not get wrapped around the axle with small answers.”
The second thing an operating concept does, he said, is describe the operating environment. Airland Battle was designed to go to battle with Russia in the central plains of Europe with NATO, a well-known coalition. Everything was known in Airland Battle Concept.
“Before you march off on small answers, the most important thing you have to do is define the problem. Define the problem you are trying to solve before you spend all night trying to solve it,” Perkins said. “Beware of people who define the problem by taking the answer they want and rewording it in the form of a problem.”
The problem the Airland Battle Concept identified was “Fight outnumbered and win.”

Using that template, Perkins said, TRADOC came up with “Win in a complex world,” complex being defined as unknown, unknowable and constantly changing.
“As an NCO you have to understand the logic of how we get to where we are,” he said. “Words have meaning and the good thing about doctrine is you get to define what the meaning is. All I need to know is do you want me to build an Army for a known world or an unknown world. Because those are two different armies. If it is unknown you design, build and buy things differently.”
In order to win in a complex world, Perkins said the Army must conduct unified land operations and then asked the question, “But what are we for?” It is very powerful once you decide what you are for because you can start grading what you do, he added.
To come up with that answer, TRADOC looked at Google’s mission – to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful – and found clarity in purpose. From there TRADOC defined what the Army is for – “To seize, retain and exploit the initiative to get to a position of relative advantage.”
“That could be to get the advantage against the Taliban, Hurricane Sandy, some humanitarian disaster, whatever you are dealing with,” he said. “(It is) relative advantage because the world is constantly changing; what is an advantage today may be a disadvantage tomorrow. The world you are in today is constantly changing.”
Turning his focus to mission command, Perkins said in order to conduct unified land operations we must institute mission command. Mission command, he said, is a multi-warfighting function and a command philosophy.
“In mission command we balance command and control, not to ensure compliance, but to empower initiative. Because you don’t know what your subordinates need to do piece-by-piece, so you just give them mission-oriented orders,” he said. “(You need to) understand, visualize and describe the mission. Once you do all of that, then you direct. Mission command is all about leadership because if you don’t have leadership you cannot execute mission command. If you can’t conduct mission command, you can’t do unified land operations, and if you can’t do unified land operations you probably are not going to win in a complex world.”
Perkins urged the class to “never lose clarity in the search for accuracy;” that their job was to conceptualize and not get caught up on the small things and he ended by telling the students that they owned the profession.
“So what are you for? The stewardship of the profession. You own the profession,” he said. “Because you own the profession we lean on you. We are addicted to you and all of the Soldiers because we trust that you know what you are doing and you will give your life to do that and that is the only reason we are ever going to be able to win in a complex world.”

Thorpe assumes responsibility for Resident SMC

Sgt. Maj. Maurice Thorpe accepts the unit colors from Command Sgt. Maj. Harold Reynolds, dean of the Sergeants Major Course, signifying his acceptance of the responsibility for the Resident Sergeants Major Course, during ceremonies held Oct. 8. At the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.
Sgt. Maj. Maurice Thorpe accepts the unit colors from Command Sgt. Maj. Harold Reynolds, dean of the Sergeants Major Course, signifying his acceptance of the responsibility for the Resident Sergeants Major Course, during ceremonies held Oct. 8. At the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.

Story and photos by David Crozier, Command Communications

The Sergeants Major Course of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, held a change of responsibility ceremony October 8, where Sgt. Maj. Robert R. Deblois handed over the duties and responsibilities of deputy director to Sgt. Maj. Maurice A. Thorpe. Command Sgt. Maj. Harold Reynolds, director of the Sergeants Major Course, officiated the change of responsibility and spoke a few words about both of the sergeants major during the event. “When I thought about what I wanted to talk about today, all of these ceremonies it is really bittersweet, we’ve got the new coming in with new ideas and revamping the organization but you also have that have that historical knowledge – that operational knowledge that is also leaving, that’s why it is a bittersweet thing,” Reynolds said. “If I could pick one word to describe SGM Deblois, it would be dedicated. He has been dedicated to the Army every unit that he has been in, he has dedicated to them and what they are doing. But first and foremost he has been dedicated to his family. … He has also been dedicated to the mission at USASMA of providing professional military education to senior leaders. He has been an astute asset in accomplishing that mission. And he has accomplished that mission.
Turning his attention to Thorpe, Reynolds said the one word that described him is “Commitment.”

“He is committed to his family, to the Army, to every unit that he has served. It is a hard balancing act to do, but he has done it. He is committed to the mission, to this mission, and he is committed to education, the pursuit of it, the teaching of it, and the importance of it,” Reynolds said. “Now that he takes these reins he will also ensure that you know and will give you the best curriculum that he can possibly give, as well as supporting all of the staff and students and instructors. You can’t do that without commitment.” Following Reynold’s remarks both Deblois and Thorpe were given the opportunity to address the gathered crowd. Deblois thanked the Academy and the staff for their support singling out several individuals, and specifically highlighted the work of the Sergeants Major Course Instructors and department chiefs and deputy chiefs.

 

Sgt. Maj. Maurice Thorpe addresses the crowd after his acceptance of the responsibility for the Resident Sergeants Major Course, during ceremonies held Oct. 8. At the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.
Sgt. Maj. Maurice Thorpe addresses the crowd after his acceptance of the responsibility for the Resident Sergeants Major Course, during ceremonies held Oct. 8. At the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.

“To my SMC instructors – you are world class, the best jobs in this academy. Your daily contact with the students, you are leading by example, your professionalism is phenomenal. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting,” Deblois said. “SGM and Mrs. Thorpe, I wish you good luck and congratulations. You are the right team to lead the resident course down the field.”

Deblois saved his closing remarks to the students of Class 66.

“Class 66 – you were selected to come here based off your past demonstrated abilities and potential. The goal is graduation,” he said. “Help each other out, don’t fret or worry about your assignments, first sergeant and the cadre will help you through that process. Remember the goal is graduation. Come June everything is going is work itself out.”

Thorpe likewise thanked everyone for attending the ceremony and also thanked Deblois for his dedication and leadership. “On today, the 8th of October, 2015, I have been given the privilege of accepting responsibility of the Sergeants Major Course. SGM Rob Deblois has done a great job as the leader of the corps and has performed with honor and distinction, not only here for the last two years, but for the 32 years of his career since 1984,” Thorpe said.Using a quote from famed baseball player Jackie Robinson who said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” Thorpe said that in assuming the position as deputy director of the resident Sergeants Major Course provides him a platform to impact and the educators, students, their families and our Army. He added that the ceremony was not about him, but “about preserving the tradition the history and legacy that has existed here in this institution since 1972.

DSC_6204I am humbled by such a responsibility and I am thankful to work with such a great team. I recognize that our educators, staff and faculty play a huge role in not only your success, but the success of the team.” Thorpe ended his remarks by asking everyone to remember the “Flag.”

“Family, always take care of your family. For some of us that is your battle buddy to your left or right. Leadership, always set the example and be that leader that you always wanted. Leadership is more than being a servant leader, it is about followership as well. Ambassadorship, find ways around the Army, find ways around the academy, your community, to always lend a helping hand. Because to some you are the only Army they know. As far as Growth, I want you to do more than be lifelong learners. I want you to encourage others to grow and remain open-minded to all things new so we all grow too,” he said. “So simply put, remember the FLAG – family, leadership, ambassadorship and family.” Additional photos can be found on the USASMA flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/133821783@N02/albums.