The international students of Sergeants Major Course Class 64 got a first-hand accounting of the happenings in the U.S. Congress April 17, when Congressman Beto O’Rourke, 16th District, came to meet with them in the west auditorium of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas.
Michael Huffman, director of the International Military Student Office for the Academy introduced the congressman to the students.
“Usually every year on our field studies program we get the unique opportunity to speak with our congressional representative from El Paso while visiting Washington, D.C. Since congress is not in session during our trip this year, Congressman Beto O’Rourke has come to the Academy to brief you on his duties and responsibilities,” Huffman said. “You have already visited the city government; you visited the state government in Austin; so this is your last opportunity [to get an understanding of our form of government].”
With introductions over O’Rourke gave the students a brief overview of his duties as a first-term congressman, how he managed his campaign to win the congressional seat, his priorities in serving the constituents of the 16th District, and some of the things he has learned since becoming a congressman.
“When people ask me what has been surprising or interesting, something you didn’t know before you got here, that has been the real eye opener, the real shocking thing about our system of government in the U.S. and specifically the Congress, is how dominated it is by the desire to get re-elected and how critical money is in being able to be re-elected,” O’Rourke said. He added that he is for term limits and transparency in campaign finance and that his office has sponsored a bill that would bring transparency to campaign fundraising and would tie donor to candidates who make donations of $1,000 or more to any campaign.
O’Rourke said his two most important issues he focuses on are the dynamics of the U.S./Mexico border and his work on the Veterans Affairs Committee and on veterans’ issues in El Paso.
“We spend a significant amount of our time on improving the prospects and perspective on the U.S./Mexico border in Congress. You all have the great fortune of spending a year here and you realize how wonderful El Paso is, the great weather, the wonderful people, the excellent Mexican food, and what you also realize is that we are the safest city in America today,” he said. “I like to tell people that we are the safest city because we have Fort Bliss, excellent law enforcement, wonderful people working the border patrol, but perhaps more importantly than all those other things is that we are the safest city in America not in spite of, but because of a wonderful and proud tradition of immigration into this community.”
O’Rourke noted however that many in Congress look at the border as a threat for illegal drug importation, human trafficking, weapons and terrorists, everything he said only goes to fuel the insecurities if the uninformed. In contrast, he pointed to the fact that about $90 billion in US/Mexico trade crosses through the ports of entry between El Paso and Mexico; 22 million legitimate legal crossing every year, those crossers spend about $1.5 billion in the local economy.
“So we have far more to gain by broadening and deepening our relationship with Mexico, focusing on positive, capitalizing on the opportunities, then we do to shut down the border,” he said. “So a lot of our efforts in congress [is] educating my colleagues about the positive dynamics of the border and introducing legislation to improve how we treat the border and maybe shift away from a law enforcement dominated perspective.”
Turning to veterans issues, O’Rourke said El Paso and the surrounding area is home to about 100,000 veterans who are served out of the Veterans Affairs Clinic located on the grounds of the William Beaumont Army Medical.
“It is a system that in many cases unfortunately has failed our veterans – very hard to get a medical appointment, very hard to see a mental health specialist and those who were injured in service to their country, sometimes, far too often; it is very hard to get an answer back when they file a service-connected disability claim,” he said.
O’Rourke ended his comments thanking the students for allow him to address them and opened the floor up to questions which ranged from how does getting re-elected fit into the daily business of being a congressman to party discipline in voting on issues .
“Their questions were great and they were very basic questions that I would be asked by a constituent in El Paso – ‘What are you doing for your district, what are your goals, what have you attempted that you have been unable to accomplish.’ It really shows you that representation and the political process transcends countries,” O’Rourke said. “People are interested in the same things no matter where they are from. I was grateful that I was not asked any difficult geopolitical questions and could focus on those things that we really know best, the border.”
The Field Studies Program objective is to ensure that the students return to their homeland with an understanding of the responsibilities of governments, militaries, and citizens to protect, preserve, and respect the rights of every individual. Areas of focus are human rights, diversity and American life, U.S. government institutions , political processes, the judicial system, the free market system, education health and human services, media, international peace and security and the law of war.
The international students will visit Washington, D.C., next week to learn more about our federal government, our history and nation.
The El Paso Community College Administrative Services Center took on the identity of a mini United Nations March 1, as the college’s Diversity Program put on its inaugural International Festival and Cultural Bowl thanks to the help of five local cultural groups and several international students from the International Military Student program at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas.
The first-ever event, hosted by the EPCC, combined a two hour academic challenge event with an international fair in hopes of promoting a broader cultural awareness among El Pasoans and the surrounding area.
“We are here celebrating diversity,” said Olga Chavez, director of Diversity Programs for EPCC. “We have two tremendous events going on – One we have the academic side with the culture bowl in which high school students come together in teams and answer questions on different cultures, and we are doing our international festival in which the Sergeants Major Academy and five other organizations from other cultures have come together to show off their country. We hope to let people know what different cultures are, because many of us in El Paso never get out of the district or out of our own cultures. So we want them to explore and learn more about each other [through this event].”
Chavez said the Academy’s involvement in the event was important for many reasons, but mainly because of the fact that there are so many different countries represented through the Sergeants Major Course.
Doropeo Franco, assistant director of Diversity Programs for EPCC, lauded the Academy for being able to provide representatives for 28 of the 33 counties that participated in the inaugural event.
“This festival would not be possible without the support of the Sergeants Major Academy,” he said. “They have been so good to bring the students and the families and their flags. It is just a tremendous thing that they are doing for us. “
Joyce Stophel, the Field Studies Program Manager for the International Military Student Office at the Academy, said the students volunteered to take part in the event and were happy to help EPCC kick off their inaugural event.
“[EPCC] knew about the Sergeants Major Academy having the international program and asked if we would join in with them to expose the high school students to more of the different cultures in El Paso. They wanted to give them the experience to meet each of the countries and their representatives, a sergeant major, and to learn a little bit about their countries [face-to-face] rather than sitting in a classroom textbook-wise,” she said. “This also falls under the field studies program by helping us to get our students out and meet with the local schools. We also get to promote our host family sponsorship program as a way of meeting people throughout the community that might be interested in sponsoring some of our internationals for the next class.”
With table arrangements and audio/visual equipment provided by EPCC, the Sergeants Major Course Class 64 international students brought in their laptops, brochures, artifacts and country flags prepared to talk about their country to any and all who would listen.
“The first thing I try to explain about is which place is best to visit in my country,” said Sgt. Maj. Amran Mohammed of Malaysia. “Then I try to explain to them about my flag, my language, my customs, traditions, everything. So far I really, really enjoy it.”
Master Sgt. Kippei Shiba of Japan had a similar experience.
“Today I talk about my culture and give demonstration of our traditions to everyone,” he said. “They are very interested about the Samurai Sword and Japanese calligraphy, and my son; he is wearing his karate suit so we are talking about that also. This is very awesome, I really enjoy this.”
To encourage visits to all of the international displays and participants, USASMA made up a passport book which students and visitors could take
to each station to have it stamped and to meet with the different cultures. As attendees made their way through the numerous information booths to get their passport stamped they were entertained by various dance and musical groups who performed on the main stage and further cemented the theme of the Spirit of Diversity.The event expected to attract more than 400 people throughout the day.
Attendees at this year’s U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy African-American Black History Month celebration and observance were taken on a journey into history Feb. 13 as members of Class 64 put on a play that not only traced history, but urged the audience to make a difference for the future.
“We welcome you to our play, a voice from the past for the future. During this play you will hear the words of famous civil rights leaders who impacted not only our generation, their generation, but hundreds of generations yet to come,” said Master Sgt. Trinnette Robinson a Class 64 student. “Although all of these leaders are no longer here with us, yet their words will still ring true in our souls and can inspire us to move forward in our destiny for greatness. Sit back, relax and take a journey to the past as we show you how to face each day with courage, hope and determination.”
The first to tell her story was Isabella Baumfree, better known as Sojourner Truth. Truth talked about being born a slave and how she later became an abolitionist and women’s rights activist in the mid 1800s. She was followed by Frederick Douglas, an African-American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman, who became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing.
Harriet Tubman, who was also born a slave, told her story of escaping from slavery and making 19 missions to rescue slaves using the “Underground Railroad.” She also informed the attendees of her service during the Civil War working for the Union Army as a cook and a nurse, then later as an armed scout and spy. Tubman also noted that she was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war.
“Freedom is worth fighting for. You can’t achieve nothing if you don’t reach for it,” Tubman said. “Freedom was my dream. What is your dream? ”
Tubman was followed by Ida B. Wells-Barnett who’s story began with her being removed from a Chesapeake, Ohio and Southwestern Railroad train for refusing to give up her seat and move to a smoking car. She later sued the railroad and won her lawsuit.
“Injustice performed by any man to another man is wrong,” she said. “What injustice are you accepting? I believe that today that the greatest injustice is performed to us by us ourselves. We don’t seize opportunities that are made available to us. Instead we simply sit around complaining. That my friend; is injustice. Maximize what is available to you and change what you can.”
Wells was followed by George Washington Carver, a scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor who told the crowd, “A man who fails is a man who never tries.”
Carver was followed by the stories of Mary McLeod-Bethune, an American educator and civil rights leader best known for starting a school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida, that eventually became Bethune-Cookman University; and Rosa Parks with a re-enactment of her refusal to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Ala.
They were followed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who told the crowd, “When you know your purpose in life you are willing to weather the storms no matter what comes.”
“Don’t let their sacrifices be in vain, don’t let their struggles be in vain,” Robinson said. “Stop accepting mediocrity, start the way for a better tomorrow, start your way for a better attitude. Start your way for a better education stop saying what you can’t do, and start doing what you can do.”
Class 64 ended their play asking everyone to stand up and join them in the signing of “Lift Every Voice.”
Upon completion of the play, attendees were treated to another history lesson, this time from Command Sgt. Maj. retired, Charles “Chuck” Taylor, who, dressed in a Buffalo Soldier uniform, took the crowd on a journey of civil rights from as early as the 1600s. He outlined the history of African American Soldiers through the civil war, World Wars I and II and beyond, noting the efforts of the Tuskegee Airman, the Red Ball Express and the 719th Tank Battalion under Gen. George Patton.
He ended his presentation imploring those present to keep up the fight for civil rights.
“Soldiers, all of us, we are not there yet. The documents written in the 1700s have given us the avenue to take advantage of the steps that need to be taken to get those civil rights,” he said. “We need to demand our civil rights.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Coleman, director of the Sergeants Major Course, thanked all for attending and participating and ended the celebration with a quote from famed actor Morgan Freeman who said, “Black history is American history.”
“I am proud to be an American and I am proud to be a part of this presentation today,” he said.
The students and families of Sergeants Major Course Class 64 joined forces with the Staff, Faculty and families of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy to celebrate the holiday season Ultima-style with the 12 Days of USASMA.
The annual event began on Dec. 4 with the International Holiday Celebration and tree lighting ceremony which attendees were treated to a musical compilation from the Fort Bliss Hand Bell Choir, and songs of the season from the USASMA Carolers and Word of Life Combined Choir. Attendees also learned a bit of Christmas culture from abroad with presentations of how Christmas is celebrated in Australia, Brazil and New Zealand. Following the opening ceremony Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASMA commandant, brought everyone outside for the lighting of the Academy’s Christmas Tree.
Surrounded by children, Malloy commenced the countdown and within seconds The 12 Days of USASMA were officially in full gear to include the introduction of Santa with candy canes for the children.
“One of the biggest reasons why we do the 12 Days of USASMA is because one of the most important assets the Army has, and which leads to a lot of our success, is the families,” Malloy said. So when you look at the holiday season, especially around the Christmas events, we leverage the opportunity to do different things for the families. You have the 12 days of Christmas so we just changed it upon a little bit to the 12 days of USASMA and have events so that we could open up a broad window on the calendar for families to come out and participate in various scheduled events as their schedules allowed.”
Each night from Dec. 4 through Dec. 13, weekend not included, the Academy planned different activities for the families that included pictures with Santa; movie nights with pajama contests, popcorn, hot cocoa; the reading of the “Night before Christmas;” a Magic show; Holiday Treat night featuring foods from around the world; and the Bus tour of Holiday Lights which culminated with a stop at Fred Loya’s holiday of lights spectacular in East El Paso.
“One of our strongest supporters year after year has been Fred Loya and the Christmas light show that he puts on. It really sends a strong message and sets the example for what it means to give,” Malloy said. “He starts setting up his lights in August and it is an absolutely first-class professional event. Then on a Wednesday and Thursday night each year he opens up his home for special sessions for the Sergeants Major Academy and their families. This year we took about eight bus loads of families over to see his light show. Absolutely a first class event and is really one of the highlights of what we do during the 12 days of USASMA. “
The event was the culmination of planning from the entire Academy, Malloy said, and is just another example of Team Ultima and how it does business.
“Between the entire Academy, each one of them took a portion of the 12 Days of USASMA and worked it. The students of Class 64 did a phenomenal job with the opening ceremonies and all of the events associated with that all the way up to the closing events with the international students lead by the international military student office. The Staff and Faculty directorate as well as the Sergeants Major Course and the Fort Bliss NCO Academy did an amazing job on the 12 Days of USASMA. It was a huge success.”
Noted American novelist Richard Bach said, “The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly.” In other words, there is good and bad in every situation or event, it just depends upon your point of view.
Understanding those differing points of view and how individuals face and cope with “adversity, adapt to change, recover, and learn to grow from setbacks” has been an Army focus since the establishment of the Ready and Resilient Campaign and the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program in 2008. Through CSF2 the Army seeks to “increase the resilience and enhance the performance of Soldiers, their families and Army civilians.” Included in CSF2 is Master Resilience Training where individuals are trained to teach proven resilience skills to Soldiers in order to enhance their performance and increase resiliency, both individually and collectively – “being Army Strong is about much more than being physically fit; it is about mental and emotional strength, as well.”
At the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, resiliency training began about three years ago when one of the cadre attended the MRT Course taught at the University of Pennsylvania and came back to USASMA and developed a program of instruction for students attending the Sergeants Major Course.
“Ramzy Noel (one of the senior instructors of the Sergeants Major Course) had heard of this and got involved in and he piloted a program here to teach [MRT] at the academy,” said Mike Hayes, senior instructor in the Department of Command Leadership. “He got it blessed off on by [the] director of the Sergeants Major Course, and he taught an abbreviated version of the class in the auditorium to the [sergeants major course students].
Hayes soon followed Noel’s footsteps and attended the University of Pennsylvania training and joined Noel in teaching the class. Last year the Sergeants Major Course reorganized into new departments and the responsibility for the course fell strictly on Hayes to manage. That is about the time, Hayes explained, when the leadership of the Army’s CFS2 program came to USASMA and gave a brief to sergeants major course students about the program. From there, an agreement was reached where individuals from the Fort Bliss Comprehensive Soldiers and Family Fitness Training Center would take on the duties of teaching the course and the students would graduate from it with the additional skill qualifier of 8R – they could now teach the course themselves instead of just knowing about the course.
“It enhanced the quality of training and all the sergeants major will be level ones (Level I) upon graduation, Hayes said. “The intent behind it was to get a lot more senior level, senior NCO, involvement in the program. Some units had programs in place but they weren’t really going after things. So leadership felt that if they had more believers at the senior level, more would get involved and then the programs would get better.”
With the agreement in place between USASMA and CSF2, instructors from the Fort Bliss center began teaching the 10-day course to the students of Sergeants Major Course Class 64. As the SMC is broken down into five departments and five semesters, the MRT course is taught at the beginning of each semester as each group rotates into the Command Leadership phase of the course. The course itself consists of lectures in the auditorium and small group instruction and interaction in the classroom.
“The overall mechanics of the program is typically they get information in the large group setting where they learn a skill or a component of a skill, a theory behind something that works, and then the real work is when they go to the small group room with an assistant primary instructor and some facilitators and we ask them to actually use the skill or theory they just learned,” said Dr. Erin Towner, Psy D, Master Resilience Trainer/Performance Expert and primary instructor for the course. “Here is this skill, now walk through it; this is how your MRT is trained to do it; try it for yourself. After they get their feet wet with the skill, all the skills are worked through with a partner, and then we work in the small group rooms debriefing the skill, talking about what we learned in doing the exercise and a lot about application – how do you use this or see this being used.”
Sgt. 1st Class David Parish, a Level IV MRT instructor and assistant primary instructor with the 5th Armored Brigade, 1st Armored Division, said the intent is to educate senior leaders as to what it is an MRT does so it can be better utilized in the field.
“The overarching goal of teaching sergeants major students the program and actually walking them through the entire program is designed to give them a deeper understanding of what an MRT is,” he said. “[It’s] also to show them how they can use their MRT as a force multiplier; how they can use their MRT more effectively in their units; and what their MRT’s left and right limits actually are.”
Parish said the latter part is significant because MRTs in the field have been asked to do things that actually aren’t in an MRT’s realm or scope. He added leadership has heard reports back from Soldiers who have been asked to be like a triage for their unit – to decide whether or not somebody needs to go to mental health.
“We are not training in a two-week period to be clinical psychologists. We are not giving anyone a PhD in clinical psychology,” he said. “So leaders need to understand things like you still have those outside resources that you need to reach for [that are outside an MRT’s scope].”
Parish said that MRT is based on science and is intended to give Soldiers skills to cope with things before they happen as well as give them life skills for everyday living.
“Resilience is a skill. Resilience skills are really designed for before an event occurs in your life. So before a traumatic event happens, before life just slaps you in the face,” Parish said. “These are the skills we want you to know beforehand.”
He added, MRT is not trying to teach anybody a set of skills for after an event has already occurred.
“Say you are suffering from a disorder like PTSD,” he said. “We are not teaching you these skills to treat your PTSD, we are teaching you these skills to treat your life and how you would use these skills for long term and hopefully reduce or eliminate the PTSD before it happens.”
MRT training is broken down into four modules of instruction, Dr. Towner said.
“The first module is foundations. It contains foundational components about resilience, performance enhancement and the six competencies that build resilience and performance,” she said. “We also teach them the skills of energy management and goal setting”
Module two she said is the longest module and is focused on building mental toughness.
“That is a lot of cognitive behavioral skills, the basic skills like the Army saying, ‘Suck it up and drive on,’” she said. “Knowing these skills; this is how you do that; telling somebody to get over something, or how do they get over something? This is the way, and there are very specific set of skills to use in certain types of situations to develop those competencies we talk about.”
In Module three the students learn about strength of character.
“The students take an assessment and they get a rank order of their strengths,” Dr. Towner said. “Then we have a lot of conversations about how have you used these strengths, where has this gotten you, how do you find this in your Soldiers, and how are you going to leverage this in your Soldiers? That module is an entire day.”
Module four is all about communication, she said. From there they move on to looking at scenarios.
“They have learned all these skills and then we give them a scenario and then ask them what skills make sense to work this scenario,” she said. “We ask them how should they be working with this Soldier and the scenario gets progressively more complicated and [it forces them] to see what other assets and resources you can use on post to help this Soldier – what other assets are available.”
Towner said it is all aimed at setting them up for success before the “stuff” happens.
The students of Class 64 who took the course in the first semester agree.
“Up until I came here and I took the MRT course, I knew very little of it,” said Master Sgt. Juan Pena who was a brigade operations sergeant major with the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y. before attending the Sergeants Major Course. “When you are talking resiliency it’s about people’s feelings and emotions and how they are able to handle and cope with different situations. It has just been through my experience that I have been able to help soldiers out with their situations, shortcomings and shortfalls. However, the MRT course gave me a whole different insight on how to problem solve, look at better ways of doing things and also how to be more positive each and every day. This is probably one of the most beneficial training exercises or training event that I have ever been involved in.”
Master Sgt. Clay Usie who was a senior military instructor at Louisiana State University and a 1st Sgt. with the 75th Ranger Regiment, before coming to USASMA, said that he had used and taught resiliency as soon as the Army stood up the CSF2 program on Fort Benning, Ga.
“My battalion commander became a big fan of it and we started sending all of our senior instructors for the ranger assessment and selection program and we started teaching resiliency training within the program,” he said. “I think it complemented what we were doing. I don’t have the statistics right off hand but we have shown an increased accession rate since we implemented MRT.”
Throughout the course students are taught about MRT competencies of self awareness, self regulation, optimism, mental agility, strengths of character and connection. They learn about thinking traps, activating events, icebergs (personal beliefs and values), problem solving, and putting things in perspective, mental games, real time resilience, communication tools, and how to hunt for the good stuff. The course also shows the students how to conduct pre-deployment training, post-deployment training, teach energy management and goal setting.
The expectation from the Sergeants Major Course students going forward, Hayes explained, is not to go out and teach the course, but to use the knowledge they have gained to ensure the program is working out in the field.
“Now you know what right looks like, you know what the program consists of. You know what the skills are and you know what the requirements are. So when you get to your unit as an S3 sergeant major and your commander says ‘what is the status of my MRT program?’ You can go down and see how they are doing it [with the knowledge of how it is supposed to be done],” Hayes said. “We tell the students to make sure that it is alive and vibrant in your organizations, that you are meeting Army requirements for pre-deployment and post-deployment and that the quarterly training requirements are being met. The second thing is make sure it is good quality. Make sure your programs are teaching quality. If you have good quality and you get involved in the training it is going to stick more.”
Although the Academy is the only place where students are taught the entire Level I course and receive certification, Parish said that parts of MRT is taught at all levels of Army training from basic training to the Advanced Leaders Course.
With memories of Class 63 still fresh, the staff and faculty of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy had very little down time to rest up before welcoming in a new batch of senior noncommissioned officers and their families.
The initial onslaught of arrivals to the academy began even before Class 63 graduated. Several students arrived early to be sponsors and mentors to the 38 Class 64 international students who were taking part in the international pre-course, a 10-week course designed to help prepare them for the rigors of the Sergeants Major Course. Mike Huffman, director of the International Military Student Office, said this year’s pre-course was more robust than in years past.
“This was the longest amount of time the international students have had to prepare for the sergeants major course. We did a lot of preparation teaching the American Psychological Association –APA – style of documentation for their essays,” he said. “The students were given in-depth blocks of instruction on exactly how the instructors will be grading their research papers. So they will be able to write them with some confidence.”
Huffman also alluded to the newest and possibly biggest challenge that not only the international students, but all students, will face this year – closed book testing.
“This is the first year of closed book testing, so that is going to be a challenge for the Sergeants Major Course,” he said.
While the international students were navigating the pre-course, their sponsors, when not helping their international partners, were kept busy helping the cadre prepare for the arrival of the rest of Class 64. On August 7, USASMA welcomed the remaining infusion of students. Coming in from all around the Army, more than 300 Soldiers descended upon the Academy to begin Day 1 of in-processing, marking the beginning of their 10-month long educational experience.
“We are doing four briefs along with the Post Relocation Fair which will happen later on today at the Centennial Club on Fort Bliss,” said 1st Sgt. Zachary Smith, first sergeant of the Sergeants Major Course. “Then tomorrow the students will conduct in-processing with Finance and then complete their Fort Bliss and academy in-processing on Thursday and Friday.”
On Day 1 the students received their group room assignments along with what department they would be in and where they were actually starting the course. On the last day of in-processing, the students and their families were treated to a BBQ-style icebreaker complete with hot dogs, chips and sodas, a DJ and jumping balloons for the children to let loose some energy.
“Today we are bringing the students and their families here for this icebreaker to set the tone for a great year,” Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Coleman, director of the Sergeants Major Course said. “We want to let them know that their families are welcome and it is a time to not only get engaged into school, but it is a time for the families to come together and enjoy this year with them. “
Coleman said the picnic-style icebreaker came about naturally because it is summer, still warm, and the weather accommodates it, but more so because a lot of these students have come off deployments and missions and haven’t had these opportunities to bring their families together for an event like this.
The welcoming continues
The next two weeks saw the students attending mandatory briefings and training, as well as unpacking household goods and getting their children ready for the new school year. With so much going on during the day, the Academy set aside a couple of evenings to properly welcome the spouses and give them some much needed information and support.
The first evening was dedicated to the international spouses and was hosted by the IMSO in true Texas fashion.
Mike Huffman, IMSO director, welcomed the students and their family members, but not before each learned the Texas way of greeting one another. The group was informed that everything in Texas is bigger, including the welcome and all were mentored in saying, “Yee Haw” and “Howdy Partner.”
Huffman, with the assistance of Command Sgt. Maj. Wesley Weygandt, deputy commandant and Mrs. Deborah Malloy, spouse of USASMA commandant Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, introduced the international spouses to key members of the academy staff and were encouraged to participate in the English as a Second Language course, the spouse leadership development course and to explore the El Paso community.
The next evening get together focused on all of the spouses of Class 64 and was hosted by Weygandt, Coleman and Mrs. Malloy. The spouses were shown a breakdown of the school year and how their Soldier would be affected, as well as given a calendar of important events and holidays. The spouses were also provided a full briefing on the ULTIMA family readiness group and the Spouse Leadership Development Course. During each of the presentations the cadre opened it up to questions and concerns from the spouses.
With all of the orientations complete, it was time to start the academic year with some pomp and circumstance.
USASMA inducts three into Hall of Honor
The United States Army Sergeants Major Academy recognized the singular and cumulative achievements of three former sergeants major that have made significant contributions to the Academy and the Noncommissioned Officer Education System in a ceremony held Aug. 23 in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASMA commandant hosted the ceremony and spoke about each of the inductees — Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Jeffery Colimon, former TRADOC deputy chief of staff for Education; Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Danny R. Hubbard, former Academy director of Doctrine and Training and former TRADOC G3/5/7 sergeant major; and Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Jeffery Wells former TRADOC G3/5/7 sergeant major and HQDA G3/5/7 sergeant major.
“This year we have the great honor of inducting three great Americans into the history books as members of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy Hall of Honor. They join the likes of great leaders such as Gen. [Ralph] Haines who is known as the father of our sergeants major academy and the establishment of our noncommissioned officer education system for his vision professionalized our NCO corps,” Malloy said. “Also amongst the ranks includes our first command sergeant major for the Academy, Sgt. Maj. of the Army William Bainbridge, as well as a former chief of staff of the Army, Gen, Gordon Sullivan one of the most passionate leaders to serve our NCO corps.”
Malloy said that each of this year’s inductees shared a theme in that each was instrumental in the development of the Warrior Leaders Course, the creation of Structured Self-Development, the use of distance learning as well as video teletraining to further the education of noncommissioned officers.
While Colimon and Hubbard could not be at the ceremony, both recorded video acceptance speeches thanking the Academy for the recognition. Present to accept his plaque and take part in the ceremony, Wells gave a gracious acceptance speech.
“Nowhere in my wildest dreams did I ever dream that I would be standing here being inducted into something like this in front of my peers. So I share with you that it is an honor to be here,” Wells said. “When I talk about the NCO corps and education it was all about the corps. It was never about me and it can never be about you. It has to be about those in which you are going to lead. The legacy that you will leave behind is supposed to be an honor to the true corps.”
SMA welcomes Class 64, challenges them to excel
With the pomp completed, it was now time for the circumstance — the opening ceremonies for Class 64.
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.
“It is quite an honor to be here and I want to offer you my congratulations to everyone who is in this auditorium. It has taken you a great deal of work and service and sacrifice to be here and I would like you to reflect on that; 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, I believe it was about 78 percent or so, that were not selected to be in one of these seats,” Chandler said. “That means something about you and your commitment, your character, your competence, your professionalism and your support to your nation, whether you are part of the United States armed forces or one of our partner nations that is here today. Congratulations it really means something.”
Chandler challenged the students to seize the opportunity and to understand that the Army of tomorrow 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. What I would ask you to do is while you are here, is 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,” he said. “You are going to have to lead the army into the future. 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.”
Due to the current situation with the federal government shutdown, USASMA has ceased operations in the following areas: The Heritage Center of the Noncommissioned Officer (formally known as the NCO Museum); The Learning Resource Center (Library) and the Strategic Plans office. The following operations will continue on a reduced capacity, the S-1 Personnel Directorate, S-3 Operations, S-4 Logistics and the Directorate of Education Technology. All courses will continue to operate as scheduled. All Department of the Army Civilians are required to monitor the local and national news channels for any updates on the status of the government shutdown.
DACs who need assistance should contact the Employee Assistance office at 744-1416.
The United States Army Sergeants Major Academy officially recognized Women’s Equality Day Aug. 26 with a ceremony produced by members of Sergeants Major Course Class 64 in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center.
Using a small table placed in the middle of the auditorium stage and a makeshift voting ballot box, Class 64observance committee took the audience on an historical tour of the Women’s Suffrage movement and the passing of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. One-by-one, a short bio was read aloud on the accomplishments of noted persons involved in the civil rights movement which concluded with the question, “Who am I?” Those revealed included: Susan B. Anthony, who co-founded the American Equal Rights Association among other things; Gerrit Smith, a social reformer, abolitionist and politician who played a leading role in the anti-slavery campaign; Elizabeth Cady Stanton who was the president of the National Women’s Suffrage Movement for more than 20 years; Lucy Stone the first women to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Massachusetts and co-founder of the American Women Suffrage Association; Alice Paul who co-founded the National Women’s Party; and Ida B. Wells, the daughter of slaves, who was a journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist and sociologist and who established several notable women’s organizations.
The final “Who am I” introduced the audience to the guest speaker, Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Evelyn Hollis — a woman who was born and raised in Tuskegee, Ala., took basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. and then advanced individual training at Fort Jackson, S.C., where she learned her craft as an administrative specialist. She later retrained into the combat arms career management field and before she retired after 28 years of service became the first female in the Army to assume a leadership role as a command sergeant major of a combat arms unit.
Hollis outlined the history of the movement which led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 noting it was a story that should inspire women today to continue the push for equality for all. “[Elizabeth Stanton] Cady summed up just how hard the fight had been – 56 referendums, 480 efforts to get state legislators to submit suffrage amendments, 277 campaigns to get state party conventions to include women suffrage points, 47 campaigns to get state constitutional conventions to write women suffrage into state constitutions, 30 campaigns to get presidential party conventions to adopt women’s suffrage and 19 successive campaigns with 19 successive congresses,” Hollis said. “Realize that women not only won the right to vote in 1920, they also won the right to hold public office. Recently women have begun to vote in larger numbers than men. Still as I speak today, women are just 18 percent of the representatives in congress, and only 20 percent of our senators. Generations have worked to secure these political rights for us.
“Now it is our turn to use them wisely and to further equality for women in other areas as well. Like Rosie the riveter with her strong arm flexed, let’s have our motto be ‘We can do it.’ Let’s do all we can for full political, social and economic equality for everyone and settle for nothing less.”
Following Hollis’ remarks, Malloy addressed the audience with a message that looked at the Army and the decision to open up combat specialties to women.
“As a father with a daughter and a son, one thing that every parent would like to have, I am sure regardless of which nation you are from, is that your children would have the same opportunities and the same rights that any other person would have to be successful no matter what they choose to do,” he said. “So as we continue to work and improve what was started so many years ago, what we have to do as leaders is to open our minds, take the blinders off, and embrace the change which lies before us in allowing our female Soldiers and warriors to serve in any position that is open to them in the Army.”
While attending the Sergeants Major Course students are involved in marking numerous heritage events with special observances that are planned and executed through the different committees. Students assign up for committees at the beginning of each course iteration. Besides the heritage observances, students also volunteer thousands of hours in the local community working on community projects, mentoring school children and participating in community events.
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.
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy held a graduation ceremony August 20, for the 34 students of Sergeants Major Nonresident Course Class 8-13 at the Centennial Club on Fort Bliss, Texas.After opening ceremonies Command Sgt. Maj. Jerome Jenkins, senior enlisted advisor to the Adjutant General, New Jersey Army National Guard, thanked everyone for attending and inviting him to be the guest speaker for the graduation. He then gave a short speech to the graduates recounting some of his memories in taking the course 14 years ago.
“This is not the course that I graduated from in 1998. Coming back from vacation, I found a stack of correspondence books sitting in front of my door and there were timeline sheets indicating clearly when I needed to get things done and mail in my tests and end of course exams,” he said. “This is totally different [today]. I love talking to my seniors NCOs who said they have problems with this and that and that I had it made back then. No we didn’t.”
Jenkins charged the graduates to not forget their obligation to take care of the Soldiers and their families in their time of need and to be the leader that enforces the standards.
“We don’t turn a blind eye to issues, such as inappropriate fraternization within our ranks, or toxic leadership, domestic issues and sexual assault,” he said. “Each toxic issue has no place in our Army and I don’t care who you or they are – whoever are creating these incidents – do something about it. We have an obligation to do something about it. Turn a blind eye and you will be the one on the hot seat.”
The Sergeants Major Nonresident Course (SMNRC) is a two phased self-paced program of instruction which leverages distributive learning (dL) in the first phase and students have two years to complete it. The second phase culminates with two weeks of resident instruction which students have up to one year to complete at the academy. The SMNRC mirrors the resident curriculum but in a distributive learning method of instruction.