By David Crozier, USASMA Command Communications
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy began its 64th iteration of the Sergeants Major Course August 23 welcoming in the 526 students who comprise the class during opening ceremonies in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center. On hand to mark the event was Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, the 14th sergeant major of the Army, who was the guest speaker.
After recognizing the students who make up Class 64, — 419 Active Component, 10 Army National Guard, 47 Army Reserve, two U.S. Air Force, three U.S. Coast Guard, six U.S. Marine Corps and 39 International students from 28 partner countries — Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASAMA’s commandant, gave a brief welcome.
“Congratulations on your selection and attendance to the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy,” he said. “Over the next 9 ½ months, as you complete your education and your training, embrace the opportunity in which you have and leverage the time you have been given to develop yourself.”
Malloy then introduced Chandler to the Class who not only gave remarks, but opened it up to a 30-minute question and answer session.
“I want to offer my congratulations to everyone who is in this auditorium. It has taken you a great deal of work, service and sacrifice to be here and I would like you to reflect on that,” he said. “Reflect on who helped you along the way to be in the position that you are today — sitting in a seat amongst 526 or so of your peers —and to understand that there were a whole lot of others, about 78 percent or so, that were not selected to be in one of these seats.”
Chandler challenged the students to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy El Paso and the community, heal emotionally and physically, reconnect with their families and to focus on learning as much as they can because the Army of the future is in their hands.
“We are at a crossroads right now and what I would like everyone to understand is that we are in the process of reducing the size of the Army and there are so many unknowns out there we are not sure where the bottom is going to be,” Chandler said. “What I would ask you to do is while you are here, understand that you are here to be the leader of the future and that your leap from organizational leadership to strategic level leadership is one that is going to be predicated on your commitment to what this course provides. You are going to have the Army in your hands and you are going to have to decide what type of Army you want, because it is going to be on your shoulders.”
Chandler also challenged Class 64 to be the kind of leader that keeps the trust and ensures it is about the NCO Corps and the future of the corps.
“You represent every other NCO in the Army. Remember who you are and why you are here and understand that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity … to learn something and carry our Army into the future,” Chandler said. “Take a few minutes and reflect on the privilege of being here and be a part of a team and learn together and you will come out on the other side a much better well-rounded individual, sergeant major. We need you in the future. We need you to continue to move the NCO corps reputation and attitude of let’s get it done, let’s solve the problem, into the future.”
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.