Wanna cut Defense? Cut the SMA

| December 28, 2012 | 89 Comments

The El Paso Times has an article on the Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss which reminds me of how much I dislike sergeant majors. If ever there was a waste of money, it’s that God-awful “school” for police call inspectors. I’ve seen perfectly good first sergeants (or should call them firsts sergeant?) attend and come back utter morons.

Most of the work is classroom-based with seminars, lectures and small-group studies. Students also go on a field trip to Columbus, N.M., and study Pancho Villa’s infamous raid into the United States.

To graduate, Malloy said, soldiers have to get at least an 80 percent in the leadership part of the course and 70 percent in the other four areas to graduate.

“We’re recognized as the pinnacle of noncommissioned officer education throughout the world,” Malloy said. “That’s why we get a lot of international students.”

Why would a sergeant major go on a staff ride? Did Pancho Villa leave cigarette butts on his trail? Yeah, it’s my considered opinion that sergeant major is the most useless rank and position in the Army. I know they think they’re the senior enlisted adviser to their commander, but what do they really do?

The turd with whom I went to Desert Storm was nothing but the headquarters company E-4 Mafia’s enforcer. He’d be out of breath walking out to battalion PT and of course we’d all have to run at his pace in formation and I could crawl faster. He had his favorites and protected them from any amount of discipline and work. He busted his ass to make sure that “NCO Time” was a complete waste of training schedule. And why make the E7s and E8s at battalion headquarters do anything commensurate with their rank when you can jerk a line platoon sergeant away from his troops to do it?

Yeah, if the Army wants to cut personnel, cut out Master Sergeant and staff Sergeant Major ranks, tell those staff pukes they have to take over a line unit and watch them beat feet towards retirement. Manpower problem solved.

Category: Big Army

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  1. martinjmpr says:

    We should be grateful that FUBAR came on here and validated every one of Jonn’s points.

  2. Tequila says:

    Methinks FUBAR has never been around a SPC. Best rank ever invented. Too much seniority for the really shitty details and not enough rank to be put in charge, but never, ever, ask one for his opinion unless you really want it.

  3. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    “But I’m just a dumb retired SGM and CSM.” Fair enough. Seriously, FUBAR, you are entitled to sppose the predominant view here. Me, I couldn’t care less one way or the other about the issue, but when you accuse someone of disloyalty, that’s a bit over the top.

  4. Just an Old Dog says:

    Being someone who was on the path to SgtMajor when I retired ( I was a USMC E8 1st Sgt) I’d like to weigh in on the issue. Pretty much every top level school, enlisted or officer tends to cram 2 weeks worth of pure bullshit into 8 Weeks.
    The Marine Corps has two flavors of E-8s. Master Sgt and First Sgt. The big difference is that MSgts stay within their MOS as a technical Expert and 1st Sgts gain a”new” MOS 9999, 1st Sgts are assigned to company sized units as an enlisted advisor to the CO on leadership and administrative matters. 1stSgts may have been Motor Transport, Aviation, Communication or Supply. They could end up as a First Sgt in Charge of an MP Company, Base HQ company or in a combat arms unit. The gist is that the 1st Sgt usually has no fucking clue about the jobs his men have. So a Lot of First Sgts ( and then SgtsMajor) end up doing the only thing they know,,, reenforcing basic skills, So you see them doing a lot of chickenshit like looking for bad haircuts, uniform infractions, cigarettes on the ground, Etc.
    A Good 1st Sgt/ SgtMajor (at least in my opinion) is a mentor for the NCOs and the guardian of enlisted men against the chickenshit that comes down the pike. He’s the guy who is all about troop welfare and morale. He should be the guy more worried about how Corporal Smith is dealing with his newborn son than an Irish pennant on his fucking pocket. It doesn’t hurt to take a hump with one of the platoons to the grenade range and observe. Go on a PT run with the admin section. Watch the Squad leaders do a personnel inspection, then do a class on how it went. Take the platoon Sgts for a day of golf or lunch, all the while picking their brains on how their lts are in order to brief the commander.
    What you shouldn’t do is be like the dumbass Sgt Major I saw at Camp San Mateo who would stand at the gate and chew out any Marine who drove by not wearing his cover inside his car.
    One thing that doesn’t help is that realistically a Staff Sergeant (E6) is probably the only NCO that will be called on to fill an officer’s billet. A platoon is about the highest command an enlisted Man will hold. With dam few exceptions, and that being one where extreme casualties were suffered you don’t see an enlisted man in charge of a company, And you wont ever see it in peacetime.
    First Sgts and SgtMajors aren’t groomed for command of units. They typically do what the commander says, and that usually busy work aka chickenshit. We probably need to stress they need to be the technical and tactical experts they were back in the old days, and not the CO’s Lap dog or an overpaid grounds and maintenance supervisor.

  5. BK says:

    I’ve had some nifty Sergeants Major, but they were always kind of riding their reputation earned when they were still first sergeants, or before. Otherwise, I thought they were doddering old men that handed out Werthers for a rendition of the division song or if you played some bizarre Army trivia game.

    Without Sergeants Major, we’d have no one to:
    1) glower at you during NCO or Soldier of the Year boards
    2) make you walk back a mile from the dfac on FOB Liberty because you forgot your eyepro
    3) miss every opportunity to condescend to the captains in the S3. What happens at the SMA to neuter these people? Only the Sergeants Major that go on to be commandants seem to have the ability to be annoying (although they go above and beyond and usually go scorched earth–CSM King)

    Remember McKinney? He watched us do a live fire in a tirehouse up at Fort Richardson. Bundled all up in cute Air Force snivel gear, gets out of his UH-60, starts talking to us about quality of life issues, and correcting one of our squad leaders about the use of the term “Joes” because it excluded female soldiers. Ironic, no, considering there were none present and what we know now of his special affinity for female soldiers. Another useless role, so utterly unimportant that McKinney’s non-evil twin could fill the job.

  6. BamBam says:

    @20: yikes don’t get me started on the CW5 in aviation… Another issue of juice being worth the squeeze….

    Bottom line: if you put people into positions of absolute authority without responsibility don’t be surprised when they sit on their rear end and pontificate on what “right” looks like without actually doing anything…

  7. BK says:

    But then I think of the Don Purdy’s of the world. The Rakkasans lived and breathed stories of his time as “smag” at 3/187th, including his now famous, and exquisitely brtual Air Assault school graduation speech (the “shoot you all in the leg and make you walk 12 miles” bit)

    One rainy day, he saw a bunch of soldiers standing out in the rain for the line to the DFAC, so he rolls around in a puddle just to motivate them. Someone told me he low-crawled in class As on payday activities just to make a point. And of course, there’s the story of a guy driving on Colorado coming back from Clarksville one night, and sees this cat low crawling across the road. Figuring it was a private being punished for something, or some drunken antic, the driver rolls up and was “what’cha doin?”

    CSM Purdy jumps in his window, with full warpaint on, and says, “Don’t you know I could have killed you? Never interrupt a man when he’s training!”

    Maybe the SMA has become a bastion of PC uselessness *because* of guys like Purdy. Who knows? He’s not being replaced by any of today’s crop of noncoms.

  8. martinjmpr says:

    You know, I think the best way to determine whether someone adds value to an organization is to see what happens when they’re removed from it.

    I’ve seen companies fall apart when the 1SG leaves and is replaced by an incompetent. Ditto for Platoons and Squads.

    But what happens if the BDE CSM retires or takes an extended leave and isn’t replaced? Does anybody even notice?

    That should tell you something right there.

  9. OWB says:

    @ #43: Thanks for the analysis. In my Air Force career I just didn’t run into that many incompetant SrNCO’s. Figured maybe I was just lucky!

    Funny story, though. During a state emergency, we had a bunch of ANG folks of all ranks volunteer for duty. One of the JAG’s was out working with all the other grunts getting pretty dirty in the process. The Army was in charge. The whatever kind of sergeant it was heading up the area where he was working was highly offended that he was doing grunt work. He finally told her to come get him if they needed a lawyer, but until then he would be in the trenches with all the other ANG volunteers, none of whom were doing jobs they normally did in the military either.

    So, yeah, even though I did not witness it myself, apparently the Army is much more rank/position conscious than is the Air
    Force, depending. Then again – there is a different dynamic going on among flying units of all services where it is typically the enlisted who send the officers out to fight instead of vice versa.

    All just to say that I defer to all you Army types whose opinions were formed based upon personal experiences with idiots who perhaps should never have advanced beyond E-5. Meanwhile, I will remain grateful not to have had any similar experiences.

  10. Reaperman says:

    I don’t really have any ‘bad E-9′ stories from my time in the Navy. I wasn’t in too long, but the few of them that I knew were either pretty well respected in their field, or CMDCM’s who seemed solidly joined to the career counselor.

  11. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    One kept my butt out of a fire once. I had a major fight–and I mean major. My opponent was drunk as a skunk and just would not quit. The next day, he looked like someone had taken a tire iron to him. My Top took me to the SM and, after he heard what was what, told me to go and sin no more. I later found out from Top that the SM enjoyed jumping a table or two himself. Of course, this was a time long, long ago and far, far away.

  12. martinjmpr says:

    @59: I think what has happened is that the Army is still operating with a WWII (or even older) style of rank structure. Having created a lot of senior NCO billets they then have to fill them and assign them jobs, even if there are, in reality, no actual jobs for them.

    Think about what this means: It means you are assigning people to the busy work of creating and supervising other busy work. It’s like we have a whole echelon of Lumbergh’s, whose job it is to make sure everyone puts cover sheets on the TPS reports (did you get that memo?) Whether the TPS reports need cover sheets or whether it’s even neccessary to send out the TPS reports is irrelevant.

    So what kind of people does this attract? Those who have talent and ambition? Those who want to be valuable to an organization and to assume challenging and difficult tasks?

    Hell no! It attracts ticket punchers who know that if they have no actual job, then nobody will be able to tell them they’re not performing. People with talent and ambition move on – to retirement and civilian life, or to the officer ranks (primarily warrant officer) where there are still challenges and where the incompetent and lazy will quickly be revealed.

    The rantings of FUBAR and his buddy “Grow Up” are sadly all too typical of the CSMs and SGMs I’ve known. Insecure, Thin skinned, intolerant of contrary opinion or criticism, prone to group-think, quick to attack the motives of their detractors, and often incapable of putting together a coherent sentence, much less a paragraph.

  13. Mustang says:

    @54 Well said. I remember being a platoon commander in a communications company when we received a new Company 1stSgt. He had been an MP prior to making E-8 and needless to say, he didn’t have the first clue about the jobs of the Marines in the company. He immediately set about doing the things he felt the company needed such as repainting the interior of the comm warehouse, washing the fleet of vehicles, painting new lines/signs in the company parking lot, uniform inspections, barracks inspections, etc. Granted, some of those were needed but it seemed to be his sole focus.

    Being the H&S Comm Company for 3d FSSG (later CLR-37, 3d MLG), we supported the operations for virtually everything going on in the Pacific. At any given time, at least half our company was gone on a deployment or exercise. Those that weren’t spent that time repairing equipment, learning the ever-changing new equipment, etc. He completely derailed the training programs and the time we needed gearing up for future deployments. I spent half my time keeping my Marines away from him simply so that they could focus on the mission at hand. Having been prior-enlisted and therefore in the Corps a lot longer than the other platoon commanders, I had an easier time “handling” the 1stSgt. I was often amazed at how many stupid working parties the Marines in the other platoons did compared to mine. Even the company Comm Chiefs (1 Master Guns and 3 Master Sgts) and Warrant Officers could often be seen just shaking their heads…and it all stemmed from the 1stSgt not understanding the Comm world. Unfortunately, I ended up deploying to Iraq as an Individual Augment and the lieutenant who replaced me wasn’t as savvy.

    Fast forward two years. After getting back from Iraq I was assigned as the Regiment S-6 (I’ll save the Regiment SgtMaj story for another time). Upon pinning on Captain, I get reassigned back to the same company but this time as the Operations Officer. The 1stSgt’s tour was ending as I got assigned to the company and we had a new one checking in. I have to say though, the new 1stSgt was completely different. He wasn’t Comm either though; he had previously been in Supply. His focus was on the Marines themselves. Before each deployment he would meet with the Marines deploying, make sure all their info was current, ensure they had mailing addresses to give to their spouses, made sure their spouses had his phone number and other info incase any problem happened while the deployment was going on. He setup a mentoring program for the new Corporals, teaching them what it meant to be an NCO. He did this and much more.

    I’ve seen my share of both good and bad E-8/E-9’s and these are just a couple examples. I really do think it’s all in the approach.

  14. FatCircles0311 says:

    Marine Corps doesn’t have this problem. Well, at least the grunt units don’t. Whenever you saw the battalion SGTMAJ you knew you were going to get a oorah Marine. Our SGTMAJ usually hooked us up with stuff instead of making us do dumb things.

  15. BK says:

    I shouldn’t make so much fun, really. We had guys like Purdy or Kelso doing their time outside of the Ranger Batts, both Ranger Hall of Famers,, who woke up in the morning caring about the training and well-being of their soldiers. Still, I don’t think they demonstrate the value of the SMA, as everything they learned about NCO leadership was an extension of their career experiences.

  16. martinjmpr says:

    @65: Hence my comment in #13 above. I can’t speak for the combat-arms types but as a senior noncom in a combat support MOS, I learned virtually nothing of value from the classroom sessions in BNCOC or ANCOC.

    Which is not to say that the courses weren’t valuable – there’s a lot to be said for professional networking, as in “here’s how we did it in my unit.” That kind of professional exchange is valuable in any organization.

    But the classroom portions were simply a re-hash of what we’d already learned at AIT for the most part (and which was rarely practiced once we were out in our units anyway.)

    Honestly I think the whole NCOES system has become so institutionalized that there is an assumption of added value even when there’s no actual proof that value has been added.

    Think about this: Have you ever heard someone say “you can’t put that person in charge of the platoon, he hasn’t been to ANCOC yet?” Or conversely, have you ever heard someone say “well, now that SSG X has been to BNCOC, we can assign him a lot of duties that we couldn’t assign to him before?”

    I’ve never heard either of those things – people were assigned to certain duties based on whether they knew what they were doing and could accomplish the task – whether they had been to a certain NCOES school was not a concern. In fact, the primary purpose of NCOES schools seemed to be qualifying people for promotion. You couldn’t promote X to SSG until he finished BNCOC, so that was the reason to send him to BNCOC. Whether or not he learned anything valuable didn’t seem to matter.

  17. CBSenior says:

    No system is going to be perfect. Were the CSM folowing orders to get and keep the Unit in shape. If you are not in the meetings it is hard to know what they were told to do. I have had my fair share of orders that I was not to happy to carry out, but I did. On the other hand, how much did they fight those orders, fight for their troops. I was never going to make MCPO, I was saddened only because I knew what a great opportunity it would have been to make an even larger positive impact on young leaders coming up thru the ranks. What an Honor and Privilage that position is, I hope all would see it that way. Do not cry for me Argentina, Senior Chief was pretty dam good. Love it.

  18. BamBam says:

    It’s important to note, among all this discussion, that a lot of times senior NCOs aren’t counseled as to what exactly their job is by the commander. Without guidance people tend to make their own, and what else are they gonna do then to copy what THEY saw the guys before them do, who also received little to no guidance.

    Do we make up jobs for senior NCOs? Hell yeah. Senior officers too though.

    It’s interesting to me to see how many E-7s that have had no initial counseling to this point in their career. Yes it’s a problem in the NCO corps, but it’s also a problem of us RLOs not doing our job and instead just assuming that all those rockers means the guy is squared away. As we well know, rank in the military generally only demonstrates one fact: that guy joined before you.

    All that being said, if you look at your job and can’t honestly say you are a value adder, then get the F out of the way and let the rest of us work.

  19. martinjmpr says:

    @67: After I became a senior NCO I got to sit in on a lot of those meetings and was frankly astonished at the level of chickenshit that emanated from the CSMs themselves. In fact, it was the CSMs, much more than the officers, who insisted on strict enforcement of pointless and picayune rules that served no purpose.

    Two more examples just popped into my mind: Camp Arifjan, in southern Kuwait, was miserable in the mid-summer of 2004. The Sunni insurgency in Iraq had kicked off big time in April and May and units that were scheduled to rotate out were being kept in-theater for another 3 months. Some units of the 1st Armored Division had redeployed to Germany already after a 12 month tour in-country and were turned back and sent back into Iraq for another few months.

    Anyone who’s ever been to that part of the world knows how awful it can be even when there’s not a war on. The daytime temps could get as high as 125f and not all the tents were air conditioned (though most were.) The wind blew all the time and coated everything – inside and out – with a fine coat of dust. To top it off, being right next to the Arabian Gulf, it was extremely humid.

    So, in that environment, soldiers do what they can to enhance their morale. One thing a lot of them at Arifjan and its satellite camps (Arlingon, Camden and Truckville) was to fly flags. The flag of their home state (there were a lot of National Guardsmen and Reservists deployed at that time), the flag of their college or football team, whatever. Flags everywhere.

    Well, when ARCENT moved from Camp Doha to Arifjan, the ARCENT Forward CSM (BTW, the same one who presided over “Ethnics training”) decided that all the flags just looked unmilitary and must go. So he put out the order: All flags were to come down immediately. Each camp got ONE flagpole, at the camp mayor’s cell, to fly a US and Kuwait flag. That was the ONLY flag that would be permitted to fly.

    The CSM then drove around in his nice, air conditioned Yukon to make sure his no-flag order was obeyed, and rained holy hell on anyone who didn’t get the word or who still flew a flag.

    Now think about that for a minute – you are deployed to a desert shithole, living in a drafty bedouin tent, covered with dust, and your job is to drive in and out of Iraq dodging IEDs and suffering through triple-digit temps (I guess I should point out that at night it would cool off – to about 104 degrees.) You try to do what you can to make this place just a little more “homey” and then some CSM, who lives in a brand new air conditioned building with a private latrine, wants to tear you a new one because you have a “Crimson Tide” flag hanging from your tent flap? And no, no officer told him to do this, he came up with this plan on his own. Why? Because he could. Not because it served any useful purpose other than to gratify his own ego.

    A month or two later, same CSM, has a meeting with all the senior NCOs on Arifjan. Topic for discussion was eye protection. CSM was greatly offended by the number of un-military looking sunglasses that troops were wearing. So he starts to put out an order that only certain sunglasses can be worn in uniform (and it’s a very limited list.)

    Fortunately, before he finishes, the ARCENT commander (who would sometimes sit in on these meetings) stops him, countermands the order and says “Just make sure everyone is wearing eye protection. I don’t care what it looks like, it just has to protect their eyes.”

    It’s not the first time I’ve ever seen an officer rein in an overzealous CSM, either.

  20. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    It’s nice to see how the other halves live!?:) I, like a few of you, have no “bad” SgtMaj. stories! Since I spent my entire single three year tour with 3rd Amtracs, I only dealt with one SgtMaj. SgtMaj. Meza was the bomb! Once a month he got together with the Bn’s Jr NCOs for a bitch session and did the same with the Bn staff NCOs. No topic was off limits and any gripes or concerns were looked into. If it was legit, SgtMaj. Meza did something about it. If it wasn’t legit he’d put a size 12 ‘wide’ up your poop chute!? Being a “shiny brown face” like him, he took care of me on the one hand but was a bit harder on me than other NCO’s. I cried at his funeral.

  21. SGT Ted says:

    Mostly its the CSMs that are concerned with chickenshit. The SGMS I worked with were uniformly top of the line, put up with no bullshit from staff officer pukes and kept things humming.

    martinjmpr: I was there in Truckville at the MP Village in May of 2003 and it was the CSMs that had lost their minds. They wanted us MPs to form Fashion Police patrols, like we weren’t getting ready to go up country and had better things to train on.

    It ended when we moved up to Karbala under the 3/7 Marines, where E-9s haven’t had their brains removed. When we eventually got to Abu Ghuraib, and some active duty Intell E-9s got on ground, the stupidity returned.

    You need to get rid of the chickenshit CSM games.

  22. Army Sergeant Majors are not useless, they are less than useless. They take up O2 and food and just make life hard for working soldiers. In Bosnia (SFOR 14) we were down to 1,200 soldiers…but we had 9 fucking Sergeant Majors…who bumped into each other trying to fuck with the troops. One was actaully sent back to SGM school while on the books in Bosnia- so his pay was tax free!

  23. SGT Ted says:

    Don’t even get me started on the reflective belts.

    What are we, the Special Olympics?

    I served with many fine E-8 and E-9s.

    I’ve also served with the illiterate, incompetent ones, even if they were well meaning.

    I carried the Companies training as an E-5, trailing a big dumb happy 300 PT score E-8 behind me to sign what I wasn’t authorized to sign. He had a college degree too, but my GED carrying ass was the one who got the job done right.

    With few exceptions, the ones I ran into in Iraq didn’t really impress me. Few and far between were there any that were there to listen to the troops and help them. They mostly wanted to power-trip and do relfector belt/uniform violation chickenshit in what was at the time one of the most atttacked place in Iraq.

    But the ones that were good, were like finding Gold.

    Don’t go denying that there is something seriously wrong with the Senior NCO corps. You need to do a better job of purging the idiots.

  24. Tom Kratman says:

    About 25 or so years ago I was a middling senior captain on my second company command, a mech battalion HHC (371 mo-fos, counting me and the CSM but not the colonel). My first sergeant who, interestingly enough, had been cadre on the mortar square at Fort Polk when I was going through mortar AIT, was departing to become CSM of a different battalion, 3/19 Inf. I asked him, “Whatcha gonna do as a CSM, Top?” Answer: “A helluva lot more than check police call and haircuts, sir.”

    Six months or so later I asked him, “So whatcha been doing as a CSM, Top.” Answer, given with disgust: “Checked police call and haircuts.”

    Is that the fault of CSMs? Hell no. Blame the officer corps for silly wastes of talent like that.

    That said, my battalion CSM for that tour and during my previous command was a guy named Joshua MacIntosh. Tall ugly black dude from the US Virgin Islands. He was senior CSM on Fort Stewart yet refused both division and brigade CSM slots. In his opinion there was zero value in having a CSM above battalion or outside of his own branch (which happened way too often and may still. Dunno).

    Mac was miserable in garrison, but loved the field and loved training troops. I recall our first professional interaction, when I was a rifle company commander. He came out to the field, reported in, dismissed his driver, then jumped in the back of a track with one of my squads. He stayed with us for 10 days, switching to a new squad every day. Every day he was training, coaching, amd mentoring my squad leaders. I had a better company at the end, too, for his efforts.

    He was the best CSM I have ever seen in my life and I stand with his opinion: there is no value, or there is negative value, in having CSMs out of their own branch or above battalion level. If there is talent there, it’s a waste of talent. If there is no talent, they shouldn’t be CSMs.

  25. O-4E says:

    I have been on Brigade Staff over 2 years now. Our Brigade CSM was my BN CSM when I was a BN S3. Great BN CSM.

    At Brigade? His ONLY real responsibility…that he gets held feet-to-the-fire for is tracking NCOERs

    He has had enough and is retiring. Same with me. 352 days and counting.

  26. RunPatRun says:

    I think #65 got it right. I worked for (only) a couple of great CSMsover the years. They didn’t learn to be great leaders at the SMA, I suspect their values were formed through years of service and from mentoring from other leaders – with some NCOES sprinkled in. If you’re a poor leader being promoted to CSM/SGM, school is not going to help.

  27. TrapperFrank says:

    I concur with #76. Most of the CSM/SGMs I worked with over the years were underemployed and worked at making life for the troops a living hell. Most were training/mission distractors rather than enhancers. They also stay on the job way too long, going from one ego enhancing fluff job to another.The CSM we had in Afghanistan in 2004 is still a CSM. He should have retired a long time ago. And don’t get me started on CSM Teresa “No Slack” King. Just how in the hell did she get a plum assignment as the Commandant of Drill Sergeant School and have zero deployments under her belt when this nation has been at war for 11 plus years?

  28. Beretverde says:

    Don’t forget the “Change of Responsibility ceremony”. What total bullshit and a complete waste of time.

  29. Jonn Lilyea says:

    There was a Sergeant Major in an armor unit in our brigade in Desert Storm who was awarded a Bronze Star w/V because while he was following his tanks in his Hummer, he saw an Iraqi tank, ordered his driver to stop, bounded up on the tank and fired his 9mm into the open hatch. No one checked to see if he killed anyone, or if there was even anyone in the tank. Odds are, that after a battalion of M1s had passed the tank, it was unoccupied. But, regardless, the CSM got a BSw/V for taking out a tank with a pistol. Don’t believe me? It’s in Tom Clancy’s poorly researched book, “Into The Storm”.

  30. wernerpd says:

    Well folks, take great comfort. Although there is probably a snowball’s chance in hell that the Army will get rid of either the Academy or the E-9 rank structure, there is good news. Most of you will no longer have to suffer any more from any of the holdouts from McNamara’s 100,000 as Sergeant Majors any more. Just about all of them should be retired by now. I had to endure not only one, but three of these wonders in my career.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_100,000

  31. Sig says:

    When our new CSM took over at BN (just having been my company’s 1SG), I took an informal poll at the company and found only about 20% could even NAME our previous BN CSM, a former 42A whose only concern in life was properly formatted NCOERs. He’d been there for two or three years, and obviously made a big splash.

  32. NHSparky says:

    Yeah, well, the Master Chief Mafia is alive and well in far too many places. My last Chief Recruiter couldn’t lead a bunch of guys who’d been on a 90-day op into a PI bar even if he had a fist full of pesos.

    Guy had cut a 29 AFQT when he came in and he was PROUD of it. And it SHOWED.

  33. Just an Old Dog says:

    John, Speaking of Bronze Stars and Sgt Majors, a similar thing happened in a Marine Arty Bn in Desert Storm. He shot up an empty BMP with a MK 19, with no active hostiles within 2 klicks. Not to be outdone, the Bn CO got a Silver Star for calling in airstrikes on a fig orchard 2 miles away that had a couple of Iraqi vehicles 3 camels and a one-eyed donkey in it. To put the icing on the cake he and the Sgt Major were the ones who wrote each other up for the awards.
    About a year after that debacle I attended DI with a Sgt from the grunts who had jumped into a trench of Iraqi die-hards and bayoneted a few of them making another 15 give up. He got a Navy Commendation Medal with a Combat V.

  34. USMCE8Ret says:

    The consensus seems to be that quite a few folks became disillusioned about the military, and understandably so, as the senior enlisted ranks could use an overdue purging – and rid itself of the self-serving, political hacks who lost vision of why they wear several hash-marks on their shoulder. I’ve reminded a few SgtMajs that their promotion warrant contains the word APPOINTED, not ANNOINTED.

  35. FistSFC says:

    My GOD, there are a lot of stories about this rank. If I may, let me chime in with a couple.

    When cell phones became affordable and more and more Soldiers had them, I wondered one day what “Battalion policy” might be on Soldiers using them in uniform. To me, walking down the street yacking away looked unprofessional. You need to talk, stop and talk. Talking and walking offered a very real chance of disrespecting an officer by not saluting. That was until I saw the CSM walking down the sidewalk talking on his cell phone AND smoking a cigarette. Question answered.

    In OIF1 the CSM for my supported Battalion (1/68 Armor) was a peach. I remembered him hacking on a Corporal for wearing a 173rd patch he’d earned after being attached to them. He was telling the Corporal that we were in 4th ID and that if he wanted to wear a combat patch that was what he would wear. Of course, the CSM was wearing a 3rd ACR combat patch at the time. The next day it was 1st Armor. The day after that it was 18th ABN. I immediately had my 82nd ABN sewn on and salivated at the prospect of him trying to dress me down.

    He was the guy who had a STABO rig on his LBV. He had a red laser pointer for his M4. Remember we were an armored Battalion. He never left the wire except for those operations so large in scope the Commander made him. He had two emergency leaves during our year. Both were extended. One was for his father, the other his biological step father. Yes, run that one through your head again.

    The last great CSM I had was Robert MacKenzie when I was in the 82nd (1981-1983). Gutsy, gravelly, hard charging. Demanded excellence in the field, not in garrison.

    So I agree. There could be some big savings by culling the herd of this rank.

  36. Just an Old Dog says:

    There was a great series of books written in the early 80′s called “Green Side Out” by a retired Mustang with his Friend A retired Warrant Officer. I believe Gene Duncan was the writer’s name. It had a bunch of funny sea stories from the 50′s through the 70′s but there was a lot of great info too.
    He mentioned how the Marine SNCO ranks had sharply lost professionalism and ability due to an abundance of field promotions to Officer (which took the very best)unpopularity of Vietnam and Project 100,000 which filled the military with less then intelligent beings, many who stuck around and got promoted by default.
    In my first enlistment I had 10 SNCOs in my unit at one time or another, all of them Vietnam Era Vets. Two of them were the epitome of what a Marine SNCO should be. The other eight were either fat, drunk or stupid, or all of the above. Once I was in a position where I could have an effect on personnel I reflected on this guys. If any Of the 8 had checked into my unit I would have immediately shit-canned 6 of them and given the other two a come to jesus talk.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Last time I was in Baghdad, received several emails from my BN CSM at home unit (I am NG) just asking a basic “What’s up? How is everything going?” Basic soldier care stuff. This last time in Kandahar, received nothing from my entire command back home from Platoon Sergeant/Leader on up. Not like there were a lot of us (3) deployed out from the battalion. Just goes to show the difference between an NCO that remembers how to be an NCO and what is coming down the pike nowadays…they teach all kind of crap at NCOES, but seem to forget the most important stuff.

  38. PFM says:

    Dammit, that was me.

  39. fm2176 says:

    My Ops SGM is a bit of a brute. Every time I interact with him I get the impression he’d rather communicate physically than verbally. He’s not exactly the communicative type.

    I also have a MSG over me. While the SGM was away on business a while back, this guy decided to enroll himself in some training (to help pad his resume) and take himself out of the loop for two weeks. A SFC had to answer for a few dropped taskings that the MSG should have covered down on as acting OPS SGM. A brigade S3-shop has those senior enlisted for a reason; I can’t fault a SGM for going TDY, but I damn sure can fault a self-serving MSG for taking a course that is designed for mid-level NCOs and junior officers.

    Personally, and usually professionally, I have no qualms with my leadership. But sometimes rank seems to blind them to reality. Just a few weeks ago I was told I’d be getting interviewed to become a CSM’s driver. With a much-anticipated deployment around the corner, the leaders who are supposed to take care of Soldiers under them decided to send a careerist Staff Sergeant with over 100 months of dwell time who is getting reviewed for QSP to do a job usually reserved for a junior Sergeant. They left it to the SFC in immediate charge of me to relay the message, at which point I made it clear that such a tasking would effectively dead-end my career. Fortunately, he gave me the tasking order, which no one had bother to read past the first page. It clearly stated that the interviewees had to be in the rank of Sergeant. Those few minutes of “wtf?” on my part could have been saved if someone above me had read the coordinating instructions.

    I’ve had some fairly squared away CSMs, and have always had good rapport with them, but have had a few moments where I realized how far from reality it is possible to get in that position. My theory is that when a group of E-9s are together it is only a matter of time before one or more starts getting stupid. Someone always feels the need to justify their paygrade.

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