Tag Archives: Fort Bliss

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.

Huggins assumes duties as USASMA’s deputy commandant

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy held a Change of Responsibility ceremony Oct. 4 which saw Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Huggins assume the responsibility of deputy commandant from Command Sgt. Maj. Tedd J. Pritchard. Above, Huggins accepts the Academy colors from Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, USASMA commandant, as a symbol of his assumption of responsibility as the deputy commandant of the Academy.
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy held a Change of Responsibility ceremony Oct. 6 which saw Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Huggins assume the responsibility of deputy commandant from Command Sgt. Maj. Tedd J. Pritchard. Above, Huggins accepts the Academy colors from Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, USASMA commandant, as a symbol of his assumption of responsibility as the deputy commandant of the Academy.

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy held a change of responsibility ceremony October 6, when Command Sgt. Maj. Tedd J. Pritchard relinquished his duties as deputy commandant to Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Huggins in the academy Cooper Lecture Center.

Command Sgt. Major Dennis Defreese, USASMA commandant, presided over the ceremony and gave remarks after the passing of the Academy colors.

“These two outstanding command sergeants major and Soldiers have dedicated their entire adult lives to our country and to the sons and daughters of our Nation. They have both taken on the most difficult jobs the Army has for NCOs and have never shied away from leading Soldiers,” Defreese said. “The deputy commandant job at USASMA is unlike any other command sergeant major job in the Army. He is not just an advisor, but a part of the chain of command and absolutely vital to the operations of this academy.”

Defreese lauded Pritchard’s career and thanked his family for their support of their soldier in the Army and then turned his attention to the incoming deputy commandant.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Higgins addresses the crowd during the Change of Responsibility ceremony Oct. 4 which saw Huggins accept the responsibility as deputy commandant from Command Sgt. Maj. Tedd J. Pritchard.
Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Higgins addresses the crowd during the Change of Responsibility ceremony Oct. 4 which saw Huggins accept the responsibility as deputy commandant from Command Sgt. Maj. Tedd J. Pritchard.

“I have known Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Huggins for a while and have seen him at conferences and venues around the Army. He is well-known as a professional Soldier and a great leader,” Defreese said. ”He has a sterling reputation. … I am absolutely confident that he will do an outstanding job and help lead this academy into the future.”

Defreese then turned the podium over to Pritchard for his outgoing remarks who thanked all those in attendance and lauded the support of the staff, cadre and faculty.

“I have had the privilege to serve this great organization and tried hard to make it better. I’ve served with the best of the best; the top one percent; the top dogs of their profession; the A-type personalities; the OCD department; the perfectionists and theorists. What a great combination of experience to serve by, with and for and I would not trade (it) for anything in the world,” Pritchard said. “Command Sgt. Maj. Huggins, this institution is in the best position it has ever been and the professionals within USASMA are totally and completely dedicated to keeping USASMA on top. The team anxiously awaits for you to get on board.”

Thanking the commandant for the confidence in selecting him,

The Pritchard family unveils Command Sgt. Maj. Tedd J. Pritchard’s official wall plaque depicting him as the Deputy Commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy from 7 November 2013 through 6 October 2015. This plaque sits among the other former Command Sergeants Major and Deputy Commandants throughout the Academy’s history.
The Pritchard family unveils Command Sgt. Maj. Tedd J. Pritchard’s official wall plaque depicting him as the Deputy Commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy from 7 November 2013 through 6 October 2015. This plaque sits among the other former Command Sergeants Major and Deputy Commandants throughout the Academy’s history.

Huggins also thanked the crowd for their attendance and promised everyone that he would not let them down as he takes over as the new deputy commandant.

“I look forward to being a part of Team Bliss and the team of teams that is here,” Huggins said. “Let’s do some good things. … Commandant thank you for the opportunity and I take this challenge on. Ultima, Army Strong.”

Additional photos can be found on the USASMA flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/133821783@N02/albums.

Class 65 prepares for academic year

Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese addresses the students of Sergeants Major Course Class 65 during briefings held Aug. 8 in the Cooper Lecture Center of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. Class 65 will begin the 10-month long program of instruction on Friday during opening ceremonies.
Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese addresses the students of Sergeants Major Course Class 65 during briefings held Aug. 8 in the Cooper Lecture Center of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. Class 65 will begin the 10-month long program of instruction on Friday during opening ceremonies.

With in-processing complete, the 466 students of Sergeants Major Course Class 65 received their final briefings Aug. 11 before starting the 10-month long program of instruction.

Sitting in the East auditorium of the Cooper Lecture Center, better known by the students as the master bedroom, the students were greeted by Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.

“This won’t take very long and I will take whatever questions you want to ask, but really it’s about welcoming you and giving you a little bit of course expectations from my foxhole,” Defreese said. “I know you have already heard this, but this course is more challenging than (what) your battalion or brigade CSMs (told) you before you came here. That being said, it is not that hard that you shouldn’t be taking college courses (while you are here).”

He encourage all of the students that if they didn’t have a degree, or where close to completing one, to do it while they were at the academy, but balance that with taking time for the family and exploring El Paso and the surrounding area. He also cautioned the class to maintain the profession.

“The three key parts of the profession, our profession, are character, commitment and competence. You cannot mask character flaws with competence. I don’t care how good of a student you are if you have a character issue while you are here it is going to be a problem,” he said. “Look out for each other. … (Keep) each other out of trouble. … My goal here is to graduate 466 students from this academy.”

Defreese also touched on the height and weight, and Army Physical Fitness standards, stressing that as per Army directive it is a graduation requirement to meet those standards. He also talked briefly about current issues facing the force like sequestrations, force reductions and the Command Select List before turning his attention to the many guest speakers the students will hear from.

“There is no other venue in the world where you will get the level of speakers that comes in here to this course,” he said. “You are going to be hearing from some of the senior leaders in the Army. Pay attention to them, they are going to tell you what the latest is in the Army. They know what is going on.”

With his comments complete, Defreese took time to answer some questions from the students.
Later in the day the students received their in-brief from the Sergeants Major Course director, Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Coleman who introduced himself as a Class 56 graduate.

The students of Sergeants Major Course Class 65 were introduced to their instructors Aug. 8 during briefings which outlined the 10-months of instructions to include an overview of the course itself, the five departments of instruction and student conduct and requirements. Class 65 will begin the 10-month long program of instruction on Friday during opening ceremonies.
The students of Sergeants Major Course Class 65 were introduced to their instructors Aug. 8 during briefings which outlined the 10-months of instructions to include an overview of the course itself, the five departments of instruction and student conduct and requirements. Class 65 will begin the 10-month long program of instruction on Friday during opening ceremonies.

“Why do I say that? Because it is important that when you graduate from here that you are proud of this alumni,” he said. “Once you get out of here, the one thing you will do is when you see other sergeants major, what is common amongst you, is you come from here (and what class you are). So be proud of this.”

Coleman gave the students a complete overview of the mission of the Sergeants Major Course as well as introduced all of the cadre from the different departments – Force Management; Command Leadership; Army Operations; Joint Intergovernmental, Interagency and Multinational; and Training and Doctrine. Each department introduced their staff and gave an overview of the curriculum of that department.

Coleman also made note of the level of experience and education of the instructors, many with advanced degrees or higher as well as command sergeant major, combat and joint experience.

“We have a lot of experience here,” Coleman said. “So when we talk to you about being selected as being the best of the best to come here, you are going to have the best of the best teach you on all of these different aspects of the different roles of the sergeant major.”

Coleman and his staff also briefed the students on every aspect of the course concerning assessments, standards and expectations. He too cautioned the students about maintaining the standards, watching each other’s back and maintaining the profession with character, competence and commitment. He also dispelled a misconception of what the Sergeants Major Course was not.

“One of the perceptions about the Sergeants Major Course is that we are going to teach you how to be that sergeant major out there chewing butt, and all of those other things. That is not what this course is designed to do,” he said. “This course is designed to make you an adaptive and agile senior leader. To be able to go out there and be effective, be efficient, be part of the team, understand the same language that your officers are talking, and it brings credibility (to the rank).”

He said the goal was to have 466 students graduate from the course and told the students that the staff and cadre where there to help them in any way they can to make that happen.

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.