CSM Lee rises from platform to USASMA director

Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, commandant of the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence passes the unit colors to Command Sgt. Maj. David Lee, signifying the passing of responsibility of the USASMA from Command Sgt. Maj. Nuuese Passi during ceremonies Feb. 1. (Photo by David Crozier, Command Communications)

By Danielle O’Donnell, Public Affairs

With the passing of the unit colors during ceremonies held Feb. 1, at the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence, Command Sgt. Maj. David Lee assumed the responsibility of director of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy from Command Sgt. Maj. Nuuese Passi Jr.

Officiating the event, Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, commandant, accepted the Academy colors from Passi and handed them to Lee signifying the change of responsibility. With the ceremonial transfer of responsibility complete, Sellers addressed those in attendance.

“It’s always a great day in our Army when we can take time out of our schedules to recognize, and pay tribute to, Army professionals,” he said. “I can’t think of two NCOs who personify professionalism more than Command Sgt. Maj. Nuuese Passi and Command Sgt. Maj. David Lee.”

Lee, a member of cohort 1 of the USASMA Fellowship program, is the first Soldier to move from the platform to being director of USASMA.

“Lee’s rise is a testament to the NCOL CoE, USASMA and the fellowship program,” Sellers said. “We are producing smart educated leaders who come from a history of education and technical backgrounds.”

Sellers added the USASMA director position is now a part of the competitive process of within USASMA.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, commandant of the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence addresses the crowd during the Feb 1. USASMA Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Nuuese Passi and Command Sgt. Maj. David Lee. (Photo by David Crozier, Command Communications)

“The new broadening position as USASMA director will now serve as the foundation and framework for how future leaders are selected into the NCOl CoE,” Sellers said. “Command Sgt. Maj. Lee is a game-changer and an absolute right fit for the institution given our operational environment.”

Lee and his new deputy, Sgt. Maj. James Halchishick are now charged to effectively lead and manage the large portfolio of courses consisting of the Sergeants Major Course; resident and distance learning course; the Master Leader Course, resident and distance learning; the Spouse Leadership Development Course; and the Battle Staff NCO Course.

Sellers said, the command team at USASMA worked tirelessly prior to the change of responsibility ensuring the resident SMC receives accreditation under the academic governance of the Command and General Staff College, and also effectively transitioned the contract instructors to Department of the Army Civilians professionalizing the civilian instructor cohort. The team also codified and improved the instructor development and recognition, as well as the badging program raising the number of badged instructors from five to 64.

Command Sgt. Maj. Nuuese Passi makes his outgoing comments as the director of USASMA during the Change of Responsibility ceremony Feb. 1. Passi and his team were responsible for ensuring the Sergeants Major Course was ready for accreditation. (Photo by David Crozier, Command Communications)

In making his farewell remarks, Passi thanked the leadership for the honor and privilege of being able to serve as the USASMA director. He went on to thank the staff and faculty for “the lessons in my development, for the grace, mercy for understanding, and the wisdom and humility. To the students, before we are deprived of your company, I would like to let you know you do matter, to the Army, this institution, and us more than we have ever said, or you will ever perceive.”

Concluding his remarks Passi addressed the support he and Gooden received from their wives.

“You took on many roles you didn’t ask for, but when you did, you did so with your own grace and compassion,” Passi said. “Thank you for your unconditional support.”

Lee said he was privileged to be chosen for this position.

“I attended this institution as a fellowship student (several) years ago,” he said. “This is not something I could have dreamed of. Success for me was defined by the people who I have had the enormous honor and privilege to serve with and learn from.”

Sellers said Lee becoming the new director of USASMA has proven all things are possible.

“He displays a strong understanding of the complexities associated with educating USASMA’s class 69 and beyond to meet the challenges NCOs will be faced with during large scale combat operations, while fighting in a multi-domain environment,” Sellers said.

Command Sgt. Maj. David Lee gives his remarks during the USASMA Change of Responsibility held Feb 1 at the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence. Lee a member of Cohort 1 of the USASMA Fellowship Program is the first to rise from within to take the directorship of USASMA. (Photo by David Crozier, Command Communications)

Lee ensured all that he is there for them and understands he works for them.

“You have to remain approachable, available and accessible. I promise to do that for all of you,” he said.

The NCOL CoE provides professional military education that develops enlisted into fit, disciplined, well-educated professionals capable of meeting the challenges of an increasingly complex world. For more information about the USASMA fellowship program please visit http://ncolcoe.armylive.dodlive.mil/usasma-fellowship/. Additional photos of this event can be seen on our Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/sgmacademy/albums.