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NEWS | Jan. 30, 2024

Command Sergeants Major Council Tackles Citizen-Soldier Issues

By Staff Sgt. Daisy Broker, National Guard Bureau

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Senior enlisted leaders from across the 54 states and territories and the District of Columbia converged this week for the Command Sergeants Major Advisory Council with Command Sgt. Maj. Spencer Nielsen, senior enlisted leader of the Utah National Guard, chairing the event.

During the two-day conference Jan. 17-18, the senior enlisted leaders addressed core issues affecting Soldiers, focusing on streamlining systems, updating policies, and instituting necessary reforms for enlisted personnel.

The value of time for National Guard members emerged as a critical topic, setting the stage for conversations on efficient time management and the importance of respecting the dual roles of Guard members.

“Time is one of our most precious commodities in the Army National Guard,” said Command Sgt. Maj. John Raines, the 13th command sergeant major of the Army National Guard. “Our units have a unique challenge of fitting an active-duty month into a weekend; the more we can do to get the right people, doing the right things, at the right time and place, the more we can achieve.”

Nielsen addressed the council’s achievements the past year and outlined future goals, highlighting the council’s success in streamlining the decentralized promotion system to allow units more time to prioritize training.

Nielsen also drew attention to improvements that address the challenges faced by “Gray Area retirees,” those who retire from the Guard but are not yet eligible for retirement pay and medical benefits.

With Raines’ support, Nielsen said the council has reduced the backlog of retirements in the Utah National Guard by 90%, shortening processing times.

“What was taking a year, or more, is now taking just weeks,” Nielsen said. “It’s not a perfect system, and we can always improve, but we have made significant improvements and are proud of that.”

The CSMAC’s current focus is on revising promotion regulations, he said, to strike the right balance for the Army National Guard and continuously improve through persistent reform.

Nielsen discussed the need to update Army Regulation 350-1 to incorporate the Army Combat Fitness Test, replacing the outdated Army Physical Fitness Test. Additionally, the council is examining the Select-Train-Educate-Promote-Program to ensure noncommissioned officers are well-trained leaders.

Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport Sr., former command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, emphasized the STEP program. He said STEP will be a talent management tool, ensuring that NCOs are competent leaders.

Nielsen also noted the CSMAC is responsible for planning the Best Squad and Best Warrior competitions, which require meticulous attention each year.



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