Lessons of von Steuben – Thoughts from the Past

Thoughts from the Past We all have seen images of downtrodden soldiers at Washington’s encampment in 1778 at Valley Forge…soldiers who were underclothed and resorted to rags wrapped around their feet because there were not enough shoes to go around. By all accounts, the Army was downhearted and disorganized, and Washington was in need of an effective fighting force. Enter... Read More


First Region of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) saluted noncommissioned officers for their outstanding service to the nation during the 2nd Year of the NCO in 2009. As part of that recognition, the Region commissioned known artist Jim Ryan, who has produced my signature prints and released them during their annual conference. In the accompanying proclamation that went... Read More

The SMA office and position turned 50 this year…

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

Change of Responsibility Script

COMMAND SERGEANT MAJOR CHANGE OF RESPONSIBILITY Script CEREMONY SEQUENCE OF EVENTS BAND:  From 1045 until 1100 plays appropriate music, and the Color Guard takes its initial position. PARTICIPATING UNITS: All MSC/Battalion/Company, the Honor Company, and HHC, Your Unit Name on the final line at “Parade Rest” NLT 1050 hours. NARRATOR:  At 1058 announces “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE CEREMONY WILL BEGIN IN TWO MINUTES. ... Read More

Spinning Flags at Change of Command

There are some ceremonies like the company change of command and the change of responsibility that have some key elements that are not clearly defined, so finding “a standard” is sometimes impossible. In many cases with large formations, it is usually the senior mission command HQs that creates a local policy when it comes to the gray areas surrounding ceremonies but... Read More

The Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Senior Enlisted Advisor (SEA) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), or SEAC, is a military position within the United States Department of Defense and is the most senior noncommissioned or petty officer overall in the United States Armed Forces. The SEAC is appointed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to serve as... Read More

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

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

Last recipient of the Badge of Military Merit: SGT Daniel Bissell

SGT Daniel Bissell Daniel Bissell, the eldest son of Daniel and Elizabeth Bissell of Windsor, Connecticut, was born December 30, 1754. When the Revolution began he enlisted in the 5th Connecticut Regiment of the Continental Line, where his “sterling qualities of head and heart speedily gained the esteem of his comrades and the confidence of his officers.” He became a sergeant... Read More

Short History of the Specialist Rank

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

Inspire Recruits and Capture our Legacy

With over 80-percent of the military force structure enlisted soldiers it is a fair assumption to say that “most people” in the military started their Army affiliation with a recruiter. There are few things that tie the brother-and-sisterhood together than the enlistment process and that starts off with the first interaction with a recruiter. Whether self initiated, advised by a family... Read More

US Army Highly Qualified Enlisted Expert

Why not maximize Noncommissioned Officer talent post-military service? Challenge Today’s Army does not have ready access to a select group of highly qualified former enlisted leaders who possess the intellectual capacity, wisdom, and expertise to assist the Force in short-term, and often complicated projects. In cultivating Soldiers for Life surely talent management does not end at retirement? The type of expertise often... Read More

Interview with the Sergeant Major of Army Public Affairs

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

Epi. #15, Soldier for Life: SMA Jack L. Tilley interview

SMA Jack L. Tilley Inteview In Episode #15 host Dan Elder sits down with Sergeant Major of the Army Jack L. Tilley, USA, Retired and they talk about his new book Soldier for Life: Leader Lessons From The 12th Sergeant Major Of The Army Jack L. Tilley. He explains that the book is more than just an autobiography of Jack L. Tilley, the... Read More

Book: Soldier for Life, the story of SMA Jack L. Tilley

Soldier for Life This book is more than just an autobiography of Jack L. Tilley, the 12th Sergeant Major of the Army, it is a series of leadership lessons based on selected stories from his more than 35-year career. The last Vietnam veteran to serve in that position from 2000-2004, SMA Tilley was at the Pentagon when terrorists crashed a... Read More

Epi. #14, Getting Back to Basics

Back to Basics In this episode CSM (Ret.) Dan Elder discusses getting back to the basics and attempts to identify a few foundational techniques company grade noncommissioned officers should master. Key to a professional leader’s style are in being grounded in the way that they operate, those basic behaviors that set them apart from others. The way we perform is usually influenced by... Read More

Neck Medal Bling

Last week I had the chance to attend the premier professional development forum for soldiers, the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army. Full disclosure here, it is no secret that I am AUSA Senior Fellow and long-time supporter so let me just get in a plug. I believe regardless your profession that you should align with... Read More