Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston
13th Sergeant Major of the Army
January 2004–March 2011
Kenneth O. Preston is a native of Mount Savage, Maryland, where he enlisted in the United States Army on June 30, 1975. He attended basic training and armor Advanced Individual Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. During the next 36 years, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Preston dedicated himself to “being all he could be” as a professional Soldier and family man. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from TUI University and is a graduate of the Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course, Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course, First Sergeant Course, M1/M1A1 Tank Master Gunner Course, Master Fitness Trainer Course, Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer Course and Class 46 of the Sergeants Major Course.
As an NCO leading Soldiers in the field, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Preston was a consummate trainer and mentor, ensuring Soldiers who served under him were given every opportunity to seek out and obtain the necessary training for success in the Army.
As the 13th sergeant major of the Army, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Preston led the transformation of the Army into a modular force capable of supporting a nation at war in an era of persistent conflict while maintaining Soldiers’ readiness and education.
His leadership efforts made it possible to accelerate leader development; transform the Noncommissioned Officer Education System, including the establishment of the Warrior Leader Course and the revamping of the Basic and Advanced Noncommissioned Officer courses into the Advanced and Senior Leader Courses respectively; and change the Sergeants Major Course from a nine-month program of instruction to a 10-month program that incorporated many of the lessons being taught at the Army’s Command and General Staff College.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Preston led the effort to revamp the centralized NCO Promotion and Selection System, allowing Human Resources Command to make informed decisions on promotions and assignments of senior NCOs.
Under the Year of the NCO initiatives, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Preston ushered in improvements in managing NCOES transformation and the Army Career Tracker, and established Structured Self-Development. He also was instrumental at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, securing additional funding to make improvements to The NCO Journal magazine, the U.S. Army Museum of the Noncommissioned Officer and the establishment of a digital library specialist position as part of the Year of the NCO initiatives in 2010.
While serving as the 13th sergeant major of the Army, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Preston made a personal commitment to address every resident and nonresident Sergeants Major Course class, sharing his knowledge and experience with the senior NCOs who were preparing for increased responsibilities throughout the Army.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Preston and his wife, Karen, also a native of Mount Savage, Maryland, have three children and six grandchildren.