Home : Features : 2009 : Year of the NCO : Journal

CSM Deborah J. Collins

CorporalI am Command Sergeant Major Deborah J. Collins, the State Command Sergeant Major for the Arkansas National Guard. I am honored to serve and represent over 7,000 Soldiers of the Arkansas Army National Guard around the world. I have served in this position since March 2003 and previous assignments include CSM at Battalion and Brigade.

"No one is more professional than I. I am a Non commissioned Officer, a leader of Soldiers!" These are the first 2 lines of the NCO Creed. The Army has declared 2009 as the year of the NCO. I have a framed poster in my office that was printed in 1989 - it was also the year of the NCO. That poster pictures a bust of a Sergeant wearing a Kevlar helmet covered in woodland camouflage. Compared to what a Soldier looks like today in full "battle rattle" to the image on that poster is like comparing "Lost in Space" to the sci-fi movies of today. I truly believe we have progressed that far as an NCO Corps. Education, training, and technology have all contribute to this transformation. One thing that is always constant and has been since Baron Von Stuben wrote the blue book, NCOs carry out the daily business of our Army and continue to be the backbone of our Army and all other services. However, we can not just accept this and sit back and bask in pride. We all must continue to better ourselves through education and training in order to remain a viable part of the Army. NCOs must attend their required NCO Education Schools and other professional military training in order to remain current not only for combat operations but for non-combat operations and day to day business.

One of the purposes of declaring this the year of the NCO was to educate the general public on the contributions of NCOs. We too must be committed to educating the public about the contributions and quality of our NCOs. I truly believe we have the best NCO Corps in our history. What our NCOs have and are doing in the fight against the Global War on Terrorism is untold!

Just a short time after the Army announced this would be the "Year of the NCO", I ask my 4 BDE CSMs for ideas on how to commemorate this year. With no feedback, I later task them with coming up with something and making it happen during Annual Training but that I wasn't going to tell them what they had to do but they had to do something. Of course the results were outstanding. One BDE CSM told me, "Thanks CSM for kicking us in the butt and making us do something. I started out just fulfilling your requirement, but it became so much more to me personally and to my NCOs. We are going to make this an annual tradition." I share this with you to say this; we must take and make the time to honor these traditions and to teach our junior NCOs the lineage and honor of our Corps. We must do this so they to will carry that knowledge on and share it with others as they replace us. The NCO Corps in all our services is what makes us (the U.S.) the finest military in the world. We are what makes the difference and that is one thing I do not want to ever see change!


CSM Victor S. Angry

Acting CSM, Army National Guard

CorporalSergeant Major of the Army Preston said that “selfless service is the ability to endure hardships and insurmountable odds in the service of fellow Soldiers and our country. Placing duty and Soldiers' welfare before their own personal desires has always been a key to the uniqueness of the Army NCO."

I recall commuting to my office in Crystal City on the city bus one early morning and overhearing a conversation between two older ladies sitting in front of me. One was telling the other about how proud she was of her son being a Soldier but that it had changed him.

She went on to explain that he had returned safely from Iraq after a 12- month deployment. After being home for only a short period of time, he volunteered to go back. When she (the mom) asked him why, his reply was “I can't leave my Soldiers over there, they need me".

I don't think either of them understood then or understand now what it means to serve; what it means to be a part of something greater than self; what it means to unconsciously think less of self and more to serve others; or what it means to be a member of the finest Army the world has ever seen.

“Every man therefore that wishes to secure his own freedom, and thinks it his duty to defend that of his country, should, as he prides himself in being a free citizen, think it his truest honor to be a Citizen Soldier." (I Am the Guard)

I hold the secret of my success to two phrases that I refer to often. The first being L-D-R-S-H-I-P which we know as:

Loyalty- I've never bought in to the comment “Know where your loyalties lie, to the unit the individual, not." I remain loyal to the Army. As long as I do that, the unit and the individual will always have my loyalty.

Duty- Make no mistake about it, my family is very important to me and depending on the situation, the priorities becomes interchangeable. When things are synchronized correctly, the mission will go on.

Respect- If you can't respect yourself, you can't respect others. Simple, but true.

Selfless Service- SMA Preston said it best.

Honor- Tell the Guard story - let the public know who you are. I travel in uniform; I wear my uniform in my community and interact with neighbors I willingly protect.

Integrity- Are you the same Soldier out of uniform as you are in uniform? Soldiering is a 24/7 job.

Personal Courage- The only significant difference between an E5 and an E9 is our levels of responsibility. We all have the same responsibility to correct one another and ensure we are doing the right things as professionals. Choose to make the more difficult right decision then the easier, more popular wrong decision.

The second is the Creed of the Non Commissioned Officer: No one is more professional than I!

This simple statement sums up what an NCO truly is. It speaks volume to the professionalism displayed by our men and women who make up our all volunteer force which is the best in the world.

Citizen in peace, Soldier in war… of security and honor, for three centuries I have been the custodian, I AM THE GUARD!


SGM Darrell Stokke

CorporalI am SGM Darrell Stokke. I am privileged to serve as the Division Sergeant Major for the Army Guard Strength Maintenance Division at National Guard Bureau. Throughout the nation the Army National Guard has dedicated Recruiting and Retention Non-Commissioned Officers continuing to focus on manning a ready, reliable force and ensuring Soldiers are provided excellent mentoring and care throughout their military career.

In the recruiting and retention arena, we have the opportunity to interact with young Americans daily and we try to exemplify for them the best that the Army National Guard has to offer. Our Marketing and Advertising programs allow us to reach the American public in thousands of communities and focus on the most relevant parts of our service. The National Guard’s involvement with NASCAR is one particular avenue which has provided a very visible and public route for highlighting NCO accomplishments and our Corps.

During Jeff Gordon’s April 5th race, which he went on to win, the NCO of the Year for the Army Guard and the Army, SSG Michael Noyce Merino, was able to talk with several new enlistees in the Army Guard’s GED Plus program.

In addition to seeing an iconic NASCAR race driver such as Jeff Gordon, these new enlistees were able to see an example worthy of their aspirations; an NCO who strives for excellence in all aspects and has reached tremendous levels of achievement they themselves could set as a future goal.

It was also an opportunity for SSG Noyce Merino to talk to the drivers and fans to let them know what an NCO does and why it matters. On a daily basis, these drivers are visible in the media and on the race track. Having one-on-one time with several of these drivers allowed SSG Noyce Merino to shape community understanding of what we, as NCOs, embody and also project this image out into the mainstream.

On June 14th, the Jeff Gordon #24 Chevrolet lapped the Michigan International Speedway with a very unique and deserving paint scheme: The Year of the NCO. Before a national audience, it was yet another opportunity to put the focus on the backbone of our U.S. Army- our NCO Corp.

There are segments of the American public that have no idea of what an NCO is, or how we factor into the success our Army National Guard has had since our inception more than 370 years ago, and they will have questions. Our Army National Guard Non-Commissioned Officers provide the answers to those questions everyday as we are members within those same neighborhoods of America.


CSM Tim Newton

287th Sustainment Brigade COB Adder, Iraq

CorporalI have the honor and privilege to be the Command Sergeant Major of the 287th Sustainment Brigade of the Kansas Army National Guard. Our brigade consists of 3,000 soldiers across the National Guard, Army Reserve, and Active Duty. Our mission is to coordinate, move, and provide security for movement of all classes of supplies and we also provide maintenance, financial, and postal support in our Area of Operation. These missions would not be accomplished without the leadership and professionalism of our NCOs. On every mission you will find an NCO who knows their mission, equipment, and soldiers.

I am honored to have the opportunity to post my comments on the Year of the Non Commissioned Officer website and would like to honor and pay tribute to the Women Warriors of the Non Commissioned Corps.

As a brigade Command Sergeant Major, I have the opportunity and privilege to be able to speak and listen to all our great soldiers and NCOs in my brigade. Nearly 24 years of my military service has been in combat arms and now being the CSM of a sustainment brigade, I have the opportunity to see the Army from a different perspective. To start, I have always respected women in the Army, but after a year as the brigade CSM, I truly have a greater respect for our Women Warriors. When I go out to visit my NCOs whether it is in the motor pool, convoy staging lanes, or convoy mission briefs, I am always impressed with the professionalism and dedication of these NCOs. Our Women Warriors are First Sergeants, convoy commanders, assistant convoy commanders, truck masters, TOC NCOICs, maintenance sergeants, medical platoon sergeants, and even technical advisors to the Iraqi Army.

Throughout our history Women Warriors have demonstrated their patriotism and bravery and have proven that being a Warrior is not limited to one gender. From the American Revolution to our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our Women Warriors have demonstrated their patriotism and Warrior spirit such as Sergeant Crystal Johnson who was awarded the Purple Heart and received two ARCOMS, one for Valor in 2006 and SGT Leigh Ann Hester who was the first women ever awarded the Silver Star since World War II in March of 2005.

To conclude, I am extremely proud and honored to serve with all our NCOs, especially during the 2009 “Year of the NCO”. We wouldn't be the Army we are today without our noncommissioned officer corps. Without our dedicated NCOs, we would not be able to accomplish our missions. Our NCOs provide our soldiers with leadership, demonstrate commitment, selfless service, and personal courage to ensure that each and every mission is accomplished in the most efficient and safest way. Thank you for all that you do.


CSM Robert J. Sweeney, 81st HBCT

Washington Army National Guard Year of the NCO Blog

CorporalI have the honor of being the brigade command sergeant major for the 81st Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT) of the Washington Army National Guard. Our brigade is composed of 3,200 citizen-Soldiers from Washington, California, Texas and Montana. We are a SECFOR brigade in Iraq, which relies heavily on the NCO Corps to execute a myriad of missions daily.

The vast majority of these missions are executed by our sergeants and staff sergeants, the true backbone of our brigade. These non-commissioned officers might be young in age, but they have the maturity of a seasoned NCO. For many, this is their second or third tour here and combined with their NCOES education you will have some of the finest NCOs in the Army.

Our mission success depends on our Soldiers and NCOs to perform outside of the MOS they’ve trained and worked in throughout their Army career. Today, we have staff sergeants, who a year ago were 63B mechanics leading a team on maintenance operations. Now those same NCOs are convoy commanders in charge of five to six gun tracks running convoys up and down the Main Supply Routes (MSRs) escorting 30-40 vehicles at night leading his or her team through harm’s way. I personally believe no other Army has the ability to adapt and change as our NCO Corps has done over recent years, and I can attribute it directly to the quality of our NCOs within the National Guard.

The 81st HBCT is celebrating the accomplishments of our NCOs in a series of articles published in our brigade newsletter the “Desert Raven.” Our intent is to tell the complete story of the NCO. Not just what they are doing here, but what it means to be an NCO from their perspective and from their families’ perspective.

I believe NCOs are made, not born. And I attribute our successes as NCOs to those who came before us, who took the time to be a coach, mentor and trainer to all. Without their dedication and commitment to the NCO Corps, we would not be the “backbone” of the Army National Guard today.


Army National Guard

February 09, 2009 Noncommissioned Officer, Soldier, United States Army

As SMA Preston noted in his blog on 2 February, the Year of the NCO is an exciting year-long event based on three initiatives:

  1. to enhance policies and programs that support our NCO Corps;
  2. to recognize the NCO Corps for what it is and what it has done for the Army, and;
  3. to inform the public and our government leaders and institutions on the roles, responsibilities and the high level of quality that exists in the NCO Corps.

I urge each of our Army Guard Soldiers to participate in this endeavor. As a Citizen- Soldier, I know for a fact there are a great many Guardsmen doing tremendous things in your churches, civic organizations, in the workplace and as volunteers in your communities – and you know of other NCOs doing the same. It’s worth the time to bring attention to these outstanding Soldiers and submit stories, photos and videos of them to their NCO leadership, your state Public Affairs office – to the NGB Public Affairs office, or contact me so that we can give them the recognition they have earned and deserve in this Year of the NCO.

If your unit leadership isn’t talking about 2009 as the Year of The NCO, ask them why not? Ask them to contact the Senior NCO in their state for more information on what you and your unit can do to support this year long celebration of the NCO Corps, the backbone of the Army.

As Command Sergeant Major of the Army National Guard, I am proud to join the SMA on this blog site and look forward to posting several more times during the coming year. We are all Army Strong, but it is the NCO Corps who provides the “Strength from Within”. Thanks to each and every one of our Citizen-Soldiers for what you do on a daily basis and thanks for serving your Country.