CSM Sims on ‘Kids These Days’

CSM Sims on ‘Kids These Days’

CSM Sims speaks at AUSA Warfighter
Photo by: AUSA/Jared Lieberher

Army Forces Command’s top NCO gave an address about what’s different about “kids these days” that wasn’t what you’d expect of someone celebrating his 53rd birthday.

The keynote speaker on the second day of the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2023 Warfighter Summit and Exposition in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Sims said it is important to understand what makes today’s younger soldiers “tick” so leaders can be prepared to lead them and get the most from their service.

Talking July 27 to soldiers in the Crown Complex’s auditorium, Sims said, “I’ve seen you on the job, in training, on deployments and with your teams. I know what you are all about.”

He suggested the soldiers take notes so they could “learn something about yourself.”

“You are smart,” said Sims, who became the Forces Command senior enlisted leader exactly three years ago, on July 27, 2020. “When I travel around the force, I witness a level of insight and resourcefulness among junior soldiers.”

He added, “Kids today are smart. They have unfettered access to all the world’s information. Also, they know how to navigate that and apply it in useful ways.”

Sims admitted that not everyone enjoys a smart young soldier. “Sometimes it can drive us crazy,” particularly when they ask lots of questions, Sims said, but they also have new ideas and solutions. “They invent new ideas. They challenge us to think differently,” he said.

“Here’s the secret: Smart young soldiers have always been one of the Army’s biggest competitive advantages,” he said.

“Many of today’s new soldiers haven’t yet proved themselves in combat,” Sims said, but he added that he’s seen how they act. “I know they will be tough and ready when the next fight comes,” he said.

“I’ve joined the newest generation of soldiers in some of the hardest PT sessions, longest days and most complex field exercises I’ve been part of,” Sims said. “Kids these days are tough. That is good news, because large-scale combat will be the toughest thing our Army has faced in decades. I will go to war with any one of you.”

Today’s young soldiers are also “impatient,” Sims said, noting that today’s 20-year-olds spent more than two years under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. “Kids these days are impatient, and they have every right to be because they’ve done enough waiting,” he said.

Another thing to recognize, Sims said, is “kids these days know their worth,” a trait sometimes described as being “entitled.” He sees young soldiers, instead, as being focused on mission, purpose, respect, inclusion, communication and buy-in. They are also interested in predictability, good food, comfortable housing and work-life balance. “These are not entitlements,” Sims said. “These are reflections of trust.”

“Kids who join the Army these days trust us to deliver, and that’s what leaders have to do,” Sims said.

He added that it also is important to recognize that the next war will be fought by today’s young soldiers. “Let’s give them worthwhile problems to solve,” he said. “Let’s challenge them and build stronger teams. I cannot wait to see what they achieve.”