The Sergeants Major of the Army: On Leadership and the Profession of Arms

June 8, 2009


A new version of this book, published in 2018, can be found here.


During the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting in 2008, the Secretary of the Army announced that 2009 would be designated as the Year of the NCO to recognize the vital contribution of noncommissioned officers as the backbone of the Army throughout its long and storied history.

An important milestone for the NCO Corps was the establishment of the position of Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) in July 1980. The Soldiers who have served as SMA have well over 400 years’ experience among them, from World War II through the war on terrorism. Their influence on the Army leadership has helped shape our NCO Corps into the not-so-secret weapon of America’s Army and the envy of other armies around the world— friend and foe alike.

The Army and its NCO Corps have changed a great deal since 14 June 1775. The Noncommissioned Officer Education System, with the Sergeants Major Academy as its capstone, is one of the many changes that have profoundly transformed the NCO Corps. We now have the best trained, best educated and most professional NCO Corps in the history of our great Army, and the thirteen individuals who have served as Sergeant Major of the Army deserve a great deal of the credit.

The Sergeants Major of the Army: On Leadership and the Profession of Arms, compiled by Marianna Merrick Yamamoto, was first published by AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare in 1996. This edition includes the words of the three Sergeants Major of the Army who have served since that time. It marks the occasion of the Year of the NCO and captures some of the wisdom of these thirteen great noncommissioned officers—words that might otherwise be lost forever—and includes tributes from those who have served with them and appreciate how invaluable the SMA is to the NCO Corps. Officers and NCOs alike will benefit from these thoughts, and every NCO should have a copy as part of his or her professional library.

“Still Serving.”

Jimmie W. Spencer CSM, U.S. Army Retired Director, Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier Programs Association of the U.S. Army