NCOs Should Focus on ‘Master’s Degree’ in Warfighting

NCOs Should Focus on ‘Master’s Degree’ in Warfighting

Sergeant Major of the Army’s Professional Development Forum at the AUSA 2023 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. (Tasos Katopodis for AUSA)
Photo by: Tasos Katopodis for AUSA

The 17th sergeant major of the Army encouraged all NCOs to get advanced degrees in warfighting and master the basics of soldiering.

“I worked on my bachelor of science, finished it online, but what we’re really going to focus on is a master’s degree in warfighting, because if we’re called upon with the adversaries we have now, that’s the one that’s going to matter the most,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Weimer said Oct. 10 at a senior NCO forum during the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C.

Weimer, a career special operations NCO who became the Army’s top enlisted leader on Aug. 4, made his remarks at the conclusion of a panel discussion with the senior enlisted leaders from Army Forces Command, Army Training and Doctrine Command, the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Army Materiel Command and Army Futures Command.

He reinforced the tenets of a professional NCO corps and highlighted some of the key points from their discussion. Ensuring soldiers are “brilliant at the basics,” he said, “is our responsibility. Teaching is nonstop.”

Weimer urged NCOs to get their soldiers to schools, even if it means taking a risk with unit manning strength, and he echoed Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hester of Futures Command who said that while technology will be part of any future warfare, it will be the basics of soldiering that ensure victory in battle.

“We should not necessarily throw all of our eggs in the technology basket. Technology is going to help us fight and win without a doubt, it’s going to bring a particular capability to our formations,” Hester said. “But I also flip that on its end and say technology’s also going to punish the untrained, the ill-disciplined, the unprepared organization. Fighting is about people.”

Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the Army’s efforts to instill and maintain a warfighter mentality, especially with the service’s youngest soldiers, Weimer reiterated the need for the Army to get beyond the crisis and begin to strengthen the profession by being focused on mastering the basics.

Weimer plans several changes to get the force back to a warfighting ethos while acknowledging that change is hard. But, Weimer said, what he plans for the force is more than just change. “I would argue some of it is pure change, and some of it is just getting back to what we know right looks like,” he said.

— Gina Cavallaro