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

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

The NCO Induction Ceremony

This is an excerpt from my original 1998 Noncommissioned Officer Induction Ceremony that eventually was added to the updated Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide FM 7-22.7 (TC 22-6) as Appendix F.  The yet unofficial Aug 2014 edition has removed the ceremony and it once again becomes an unrecognized informal ceremony. -Dan Induction Ceremony The concept of inducting newly promoted noncommissioned officers into the... Read More

Enlisted Promotions woes, 2001

“The only lesson of history is that men never learn anything from history. -George Hegel. This is a reprint of my Winter 2000-2001 article on the state of affairs concerning proposed changes to the semi-centralized promotion system, and some historically significant data points that reinforced assertions. It also highlights how we got to where we were (at the time). Though it... Read More

The Officer/Noncommissioned Officer Relationship

This is an excerpt from a paper published by the US Army Sergeants Major Academy as a research submission by CSM Terwan Crawley, the senior enlisted advisor of the 589th BSB, Fort Hood, TX. This article was in response to a course requirement and this excerpt is reprinted by permission of the author.  The disparity between officers and noncommissioned officers (NCO) in the... Read More

Bring back the Specialist Rank?

The Specialist Rank I was recently browsing through a 1-year old topic that is trending again on a military forum that I belong to where a member posted the oft asked (and usually not researched by the OP) question “Why doesn’t the Army bring back the ranks of specialist again?” Like they often do the writer emphasizes the divergence of technical versus leadership, and reminds... Read More

NCO Lessons in Leadership from Abu Ghraib

  This is an excerpt from a paper published in the MPRA magazine by CSM (Ret.) Jeffrey Butler, the former senior enlisted advisor of the 16th Military Police Brigade. This article was in response  to a course requirement where Butler was asked about his most challenging team assignment, the answers are timeless lessons in noncommissioned officer leadership. This excerpt is reprinted by permission of the... Read More